There is a lot to find these days on happiness, but it seems like there is a neglected little brother called fulfillment’ So why is it that fulfilment is swept under the carpet and why does it deserve more attention?
Let me start of by making a clear distinction between fulfillment and happiness. As Simon Sinek mentioned in one of his presentation:
“Fulfillment isn’t another word for happiness. All kinds of things make us happy at work: hitting a goal, getting a promotion, landing a new client, completing a project — the list goes on. But happiness is temporary; the feeling doesn’t last. Nobody walks around energized by the memory of a goal hit twelve months ago. That intensity passes with time.
Fulfillment is deeper. Fulfillment lasts. The difference between happiness and fulfillment is the difference between liking something and loving something. We don’t necessarily like our kids all the time, for example, but we do love them all the time.”
So, happiness. I have asked myself the question many times: What does make me happy? How do I achieve happiness daily? One of these questions is more than normal to ask yourself, the other toxic — you guess which one is which.
Striving to achieve happiness daily is unrealistic and you put yourself under needless pressure. Not every single day can be a party and life comes with ups and downs. This can be the case in your relationships, work but also with the little things. Just a slight push in the wrong direction can already throw you of course.
Even if we can’t necessarily find happiness in our job daily, we can feel fulfilled by our job every single day. A why to make us fly. This is where, in a business environment, a great leader would jump in. They are required to have a vision for the organization and team, something to work towards and a reason why things are done a certain way. It can make the team feel like they are part of something bigger and that they are contributing individually and as a team. The distinction has been critical for me as I progress throughout my career, making sure to know who I work for and what I am working towards. Reaching a goal can be satisfying but the main reason for that would be to know that it contributes to a higher cause, not just a bonus.
Vision, mission, purpose?
Now I am not going to confuse you with any of the above terms as I am quite certain that you have ran into these terms before in your career or outside of work. Instead, I am going to try to simplify it for you as it has helped me gain a better understanding for myself through a certain methodology.
I have heard it too many times before. “Follow the job you love”. “If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your whole life.” But what if you do not know yet what you love, then what? More on that in a minute….
In the end, everybody is concerned with their own life and their own happiness. Some people have become true happiness seekers. Hedonists, looking for the next stimuli that will boost their pleasure and happiness levels. This eternal hunt for happiness in your personal life can leave you empty inside.
Your true merit is calculated by seeing how much value you have created for others. And how much have you mattered to others and how have you contributed to other people’s lives.
“On their deathbeds, people don’t think about their work or their life experiences or the items remaining on their to-do lists. They think about love and family.” — Rick Rubin.
Fulfillment does not come from what we can do to get something. It comes from what we can do for others. By doing so, you can create value in their lives and harvest a meaningful relationship. But what else?
Find your why. Call it passion if you will. Easier said than done of course but try things out. Get out to try new experiences and experiment to figure out what is in in your life that you want to do.
Find a job which gives you a sense of purpose (there is it again so allow me to elaborate). You can serve others and/or find a place where you can be of real use and where you are valued.
Focus on helping other people achieve success instead of always focusing on your own. The altruistic approach.
Set goals for yourself based on what you find important. Long term goals to9 have a vision to work towards to keep you focused. If the long-term goals seem scary, divide them into smaller goals that are easier to tackle.
Stop comparing yourself to others. It is not a race or competition. Do not try to compete with the people you run into and instead look at them with a different mindset. What can you gain and/or learn from these so called ‘competitors’. If this does not work for you, instead try to stick to your own fishbowl and your own goals instead of getting distracted from what matters.
Work on your personality and who you are. Focus on the positive and see how you can put your best self to use. Strengthening your strengths will lead to greater fulfillment than strengthening your weaknesses.
Balancing fulfillment and happiness
To have a little loop back to the beginning, the relation between fulfillment and happiness. I thought that my happiness might be dependent on my day-to-day activities; whether I met with friends, did some exercise or experienced something new. For me, happiness comes from within as it is based on how you perceive and process certain things you encounter. And fulfillment? Well, life is not all about fulfillment either, see. Try to find out what works for you and what makes you feel good. Not short-term good but a certain feeling of fulfillment and happiness combined.
Being a fulfillment junkie will not get to be where you want to be. Take my own life as an example. I love the hospitality industry and I do travel a fair share which is often also part of the job. But besides the feelings of fulfillment I get from doing my job and serving others, there will always be the need for other things that bring me happiness.
Having friends around me, getting understood by others, and being able to do the things I like that are not necessarily fulfilling do contribute to my overall wellbeing. I don’t think there is any harm in that. On the contrary, a fulfilling life could also be hollow when there is no one to share it with. I believe that friendship and companionship are essential cornerstones for living both a fulfilling and a happy life.