We’ve become so consumed with the notion of achievement that we’ve lost the fulfillment in it. But the answer is, it’s always both.
Life has a way of reminding us that the only thing we have any true control over is what we choose to focus on and how we choose to act and react. So often, when the unexpected “bad” happens — a personal tragedy or trauma, a natural disaster, evil doings, war, sickness, a pandemic — it’s the universe’s way of guiding us back home to ourselves and to our truth; of reminding us to focus on the things that really do matter, to appreciate what we have, to connect with the people we love, and to do the things that bring us alive and give us deep and meaningful fulfillment.
It’s so easy to conflate and confuse achievement with fulfillment. But there’s a difference. Understanding that, and knowing that the two are not necessarily synonymous, nor are they necessarily antithetical, really matters. Achievement and fulfillment often do go hand in hand, but not always. They’re not always mutually exclusive, and they’re not always consistent and congruent either. You can want and have one, but not the other. And you can also want and have both at the same time, as separate ideals or as complementary ones.
Having specific, clear-set, tangible goals and milestones, and then achieving them can be extremely fulfilling. No doubt. Just the mere setting of those goals can be fulfilling because it can help us define and get clarity on what it is we really want, and simultaneously inspire and empower us to take the next necessary action steps towards actually achieving that. Just that process of working towards a goal or milestone and making progress towards it can be extremely fulfilling in and of itself.
It’s also true that you can have achieved all sorts of goals and milestones that you feel quite accomplished for, and still feel unfulfilled nonetheless. That doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful, and it doesn’t mean you’re not proud of all that you’ve achieved. It simply means you’re a deep, soulful human. It’s a universal, age-old, existential human condition to yearn for a greater sense of meaning, purpose, passion, and fulfillment regardless of how much or what you may, or may not, have already achieved.
We eventually come to realize and understand that the greater, deeper, and truly meaningful sense of fulfillment we all yearn for, can not and will not come solely from our goals and achievements. It will come from Connection. Feeling truly connected to our authentic self — who we really are, who we’re meant to be, and who we want to become; feeling truly connected to another person or if we’re lucky, to several; feeling truly connected to an activity, a pursuit or an interest; and/or feeling truly connected to some idea or ideal that is bigger than ourselves.
So often, the key to living a fuller and more joyful life is simply by engaging in something or with someone that brings us alive, gives us joy, or makes us feel good and at peace — without it being related to any specific end goal or “achievement.” We’ve become so consumed by the notion of achievement that we’ve lost the fulfillment in it.
It’s not about throwing away your goals, and it’s not about no longer striving to achieve. It’s about recognizing the wholeness of who you are, what you want, and what you need. It’s about remembering to focus on and act on not only your goals and achievements, but also the parts of you, the people, the activities, and the ideas that are truly connecting. All the things that help you feel present, engaged, and true. All the things that light up your soul and feel right. Even when those things have nothing to do with any sense of achievement or specific end goal. That’s fulfillment. It’s always both.
As always, and now more than ever, do more of what you love and be more of who you love! Seize Your Passion!
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