5 Things People Living Lives of Fulfillment Never Do
You will never reach complete fulfillment until you stop doing these 5 things.
Fulfillment: the achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted.
Fulfillment comes in various forms. For some, fulfillment means landing the career of their dreams while for others it's winning the state championship in a sports setting. Regardless of what fulfillment looks like for you when placed in the context of a specific event, complete fulfillment is what most humans are after.
Total fulfillment is less applicable to one facet of a person’s life and most relevant to achieving complete satisfaction in all areas that make up the human experience: spiritual, professional, romantic, academic, social, etc. But there is something to be noted when it comes to those who have found this to be possible in their life specifically.
In nearly all scenarios, you can notice that it isn't what comes into your life that makes this level of fulfillment possible, but rather the things that exit your life that make it so.
It is easy to live your life in a way that implies every milestone is just before the next and is short-lived for that same reason. Your high school graduation warrants celebration only until you go off to college and the same with your college graduation until you land a career. This inevitably implements a system of ‘boxes to be checked’ throughout the course of your life and before you know it, decades have passed and you realize you have been on autopilot through it all.
You didn’t appreciate the high school diploma because it didn’t have the name of a university at the top of it. You stopped appreciating your college diploma because you feel your specific degree hasn’t served you well in the workforce. You didn’t give yourself the credit you deserved for landing an apartment entirely on your own because it wasn’t the house your classmate just made the down payment on. Though each circumstance is unique, it is all relevant to the things that make us feel fulfilled when we look back on our days and eventually, our lives.
So what is standing in our way of total fulfillment? The short answer is ourselves. Below are five things people who are living their most fulfilled lives stopped doing and it has made all the difference:
It is so easy to play the victim card when something doesn’t go according to plan. Perhaps it’s the end of a relationship and your immediate thought is what the other person did to cause the outcome. Or maybe it’s your weight and the easiest thing to do is blame the way your parents used to feed you as a child. You might fail a test and now it’s everyone else’s fault but yours so rather than learning from the ‘F’ and choosing a more appropriate study tactic for the next test, you spend your time focusing on all of the material that you are ‘sure wasn't covered in the lesson.’ Regardless of the source of blame and the events leading up to the censure, you are engaging in a habit that is never going to cater to a fulfilling life. Why? Because you have yet to take responsibility for your circumstances.
If you choose to focus on how everything that has gone wrong in your life is somehow everyone else’s fault, then you would be making the most toxic implication when it comes to your future and that is the notion you don't have one. Think about it: if everything that goes wrong in school is the teacher or professor’s fault, everything that goes wrong in relationships is the other person’s fault, every setback in the workforce is a colleague’s fault, and every fumble on the football field is because of someone or something else, then we are all quite literally doomed for failure.
Look in the rearview mirror
You’ve probably heard the quote, ‘Don’t look in the rearview mirror. You aren’t going that way’ as it applies to the direction of your life. In other words, don’t spend your time thinking about the past when you are living for the future. It is a simple and true observation and one we can all relate to. When we spend our time focusing on the past, we lose sight of not only what is in our present lives, but we miss out on today’s opportunities to make for a better future. Those who are leading lives of fulfillment knowing that the past should be left there and each moment today, tomorrow, and the next should be seized if they wish to continue moving in a direction of progression. Do not spend your wheels thinking about ‘what could have been’ or ‘what should have been,’ because if it is already in the past, it’s too late to go back and change it. Now your focus should be on how to learn from it, grow from it, and apply the lessons taught by it into your future.
We are our own worst critic and we all know it. It is easy to jump on the self-deprecation bandwagon when things go amiss. You don’t get the job you interviewed for and now you’re ‘incompetent, unlikeable, and undeserving of a fulfilling career.’ Your partner ends the relationship and now all you can do is think about every mistake you have made and how the possibility of finding love is growing more and more unlikely because ‘who would want to love a person like me?’ You cannot seem to lose those last 5 pounds between you and your goal weight and now you have forgotten all of the progress you have made simply because of those few stubborn pounds. (P.S. The last few pounds are always the most difficult for everyone).
If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, partner, or child, then don’t reserve time to say it to yourself. It is possible to own up to your mistakes without redefining who you are as a person as a result. A bad grade doesn’t mean you’re stupid. A break up doesn’t mean you’re unloveable. Getting fired doesn’t mean you’ll never find another job again (in fact, they could be doing you a favor like my previous employer did for me).
This isn’t about you dishing out forgiveness to others, but about recognizing the need to do so for yourself. Mistakes are inevitable. Forgiveness is not. How quick are we to tell others, ‘it’s okay,’ even if we feel it isn’t entirely at the moment? Almost immediate. Why do we do it? Because we are concerned about their well-being and the negative repercussions of not allowing for forgiveness. We think about the impact the absence of forgiveness will have on another person, yet rarely consider what it is doing to our own human experience.
Denying yourself forgiveness is no different from drinking poison. Denying others forgiveness works just the same. Grudges can be looked at as the consumption of poison with the hope it will kill the other person instead. We don’t forgive others for their sake, we do it for us so when we stop holding steady that belief when it comes to ourselves, it causes the same harm a lack of forgiveness towards another would ensue. Recognizing your shortcoming doesn’t have to precede self-hatred. In fact, when you notice the opportunities for self-improvement, you are demonstrating a skill many people have to work to achieve every day: self-awareness.
Giving up is the first thought that crosses most minds when sh*t hits the fan. You’re drowning in debt and now the thought of ‘throwing in the towel’ feels a bit more like home. Another relationship reaches a toxic end and now the idea that relationships are a waste of time feels like an appropriate assumption to make. Every time you sit down to take an exam, everything you’ve studied up until that point goes out the window, and now ‘I’ll never graduate.’ All of these are very real points we make to ourselves and when read aloud, can feel a little ridiculous despite how true they might feel in the moment. Taking a step back and seeing the situation for exactly what it is is imperative to forward movement.
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Sometimes giving up on a specific thing is important to do in order to free up mental capacity to dedicate to something more suited to your life, but this takes time for evaluation in order to come to a rational decision. There is also a difference between giving up entirely and putting certain priorities on hold while you nurture others. If your relationship didn’t work out and you realize through self-discovery that it’s due to a lack of closure or emotional independence from your previous relationship, then giving up on dating for a period of time might be your best next step. If law school isn’t clicking and you come to terms with the fact it’s your parents’ dream and not yours, then revisiting majors (and giving up the law school path) might be necessary.
But even if it feels like giving up on something is the right fit for a next step, it shouldn’t be a thought that bleeds into every other aspect of your life. This is the difference between those leading lives of fulfillment and those still striving to get there. Giving up the dedication of resources and reallocating to other facets of your life is quite different than giving up on life entirely.