(read time: 5 minutes)
How do we find fulfillment?
How do we find fulfillment? It’s a question many of us spend a lifetime trying to figure out. Some of us never find it. For others it is only when they experience loss and think back on the past that they can appreciate what they had. Some of us find happiness in tiny moments, but like a butterfly that has landed on our leg and flown away, its fleeting.
Others seem to live extraordinarily fulfilling lives. What is it that these people understand? What knowledge or wisdom rather, are they privy to that helps them to achieve this fulfillment? What are the pitfalls to avoid?
Below, I scratch the surface…
Experiences of the Rich and Famous
On a podcast interview called On Purpose with Jay Shetty, Mike Posner said “Achieving your goals in some ways can be more depressing because you’ve achieved them and realized ‘hey i thought this was going to solve all of the problems in my life. I thought my insecurities would disappear. In my case, I got a record deal, I got a sports car, a house in the Hollywood hills – the whole thing – and I’m sitting there and I realize that my experience of life, moment to moment is the same. I have all the same insecurities. I’m not a different person. I’m not any happier. It’s the same. Now what?”
Jim Carrey said “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
What were Mike Posner and Jim Carrey talking about? And what does this mean? Should we not be setting goals? Should we not be striving for improvement? How do we ensure we are on a path to finding fulfillment?
What is tied to fulfillment?
Jay Shetty, who was interviewing Mike Posner, had this brilliant response. He said:
“That is one of the reasons why I’ve loved missions more than goals for so long. The difference to me is goals are temporary milestones. A mission is a lifelong project, its eternal. For example – a goal is ‘I want to be a multi-millionaire’ – [this can be reached]. Next goal, I want to be a billionaire. Reached. That’s a goal. Its temporary. It moves.
A mission is something you are committed to on a day to day. A goal is something you experience every so often as a milestone. A mission is something you could experience every single day because it’s a path, a lifestyle, a cause you’re committed to. [It’s] something that you feel responsible for. [It’s] something that you feel your trying to drive a change or cultural shift around, which takes longer.
Take MLK, his mission of [wanting everyone] to be treated by the content of their character and not the color of their skin – that’s a mission you don’t just solve that overnight. That’s something that he wanted to implant into humanity and that can go beyond color, gender… that thought process of loving and trusting and being compassionate and empathetic to all people is something that goes way beyond, do we have independence? or did we reach the right goal? or get the right policy in place? – which is so temporary and doesn’t necessarily push or shift. It’s not a number.”
Do you see the difference?
What does this mean? How should this inform the way I live my life?
This is mind blowing wisdom to me because it articulates a mistake that millions make and do not realize until most of their life has come and gone and happiness has eluded them. I am a goal oriented person. I can see how this could have easily been me – how it could happen to anyone. Any good person, following the rules – listening to what they have been told could fall into this trap. You know, the “work hard and you’ll be rewarded” advice. Essentially it means, create goals, work hard to achieve them and then you’ll achieve happiness and find fulfillment. Please don’t get me wrong. I am NOT against goals. I am a FIRM believer in setting goals. In fact, my life is FULL of them and always has been. I just think it’s important for us to realize, to understand that, achieving our goals will not necessarily bring us happiness or fulfillment.
I’ve recently become more aware of the difference between achievement and fulfillment. I actually wrote a blog post about it last year. But to be honest, it can be difficult to define and Jay Shetty explains it so eloquently, so clearly.
What if your goal is to travel the world?
Ever since I’ve come to this realization, I’ve been trying to “catch” myself in a sense, before I find myself in another situation where I am chasing a mirage – a goal that isn’t fulfilling.
Lately, I’ve been very interested in travel. I think it’s hit me, there are 195 countries in the world (according to the United Nations) and so little traditional vacation time to see them all. Think about it, if we round this number to 200 this means that even if you visit 10 countries a year, it will take you 20 years to visit every country. This doesn’t even account for the different states or cities in a country! If you live in the U.S. you know that Miami is very different from NYC which is very different from Texas.
One of my goals lately has been to create a lifestyle where I am location independent and have the flexibility to travel as often as I like. I think the novelty of new places really appeals to me – as it does to everyone.
Whenever I think about this goal, or traveling it really excites me! I can get really carried away thinking about what life would be like to travel whenever I choose to.
Applying this Wisdom to My Own Goals
But at the same time, there is a deeper awareness that exists within me, that is not convinced that location independence will solve all of my problems. I know that just as any shiny new toy (a brand new house, car, or outfit) will eventually get “old” – the same is true with traveling to new locations – no matter how beautiful or exotic.
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that I am not grateful every time I get to see a new place. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have a goal to see the world – or that this goal is worthless. I think there are many benefits that come from exposing yourself to different cultures. Growth is definitely one of those experiences. It just means that traveling the world will not bring satisfaction unless it’s tied to a mission or to a larger vision.
In fact, I remember hearing from a youtuber, who said similarly to Mike Posner, he achieved location independence and he was surprised to find that it did not make him happy. Eventually he got sick of traveling and of not having a home base.
At the end of the day what we are REALLY chasing is fulfilment and happiness. I think in order to be fulfilled it is important to be aware of what is ultimately tied to fulfillment.
The perspectives above serve as a great reminder that I must consistently keep fulfillment and purpose at the forefront of my mind. I must understand what it is and what it is not. I shouldn’t get distracted with shiny things. I should define my mission. We all should.