Don’t Just Aim For Success, Aim for Fulfilment.
There’s a famous saying that states ‘your level of success does not equal your level of fulfilment.’ In fact, research shows that high-achievers are even more likely to suffer from anxiety, stress or burnout.
I’ve travelled to over 30 countries and picked people’s brains about their dreams, desires, and what they believe would lead to a more fulfilling life. I wanted to know why some people are fully alive, while others, no matter how good their life looks, never feel content. I was certain that the answer was to be your own boss, have financial freedom and to travel around the world, living in the most beautiful places.
However, the moment I created that for myself, I realised that no matter how amazing my life appeared, there was still something missing. I was miserable and felt a constant longing for a sense of deeper fulfilment and a life full of meaning.
Most people falsely believe that once you get to your destination or reach your biggest goal, you will finally feel content. If I was already living the life of my dreams and I still didn’t feel happy, then I must have taken the wrong approach.
At that point, I took a journey of self-discovery to find out what I needed to do to discover fulfilment and establish a sense of emotional wellbeing. I started to understand that the only way I could change people’s lives was to help them change themselves.
During my many years as a Personal Coach I have found that there are three reasons why you might feel unfulfilled despite living a life that outwardly looks ‘successful’:
1. There’s a hidden reason behind your drive. There are two different types of motivation. The first is fuelled by desire and inspiration that moves someone towards a desired outcome. The second, moves you away from pain. It’s fuelled by fear and avoidance. Being dedicated, ambitious and successful is not a coincidence. Type A personalities are driven, and tend to work harder, persevere longer, and are highly disciplined. Yet, trying to make yourself feel better by finding purpose in success can lead to achievement addiction. If drive stems from hurt and pain, it’s impossible to create peace, contentment, and fulfilment. The anguish is just beneath the surface, which creates immense pressure, tension and stress. It is emotionally draining. How you measure your self-worth?
2. If you tie your self-worth to your professional achievements, being successful becomes your identity. Your fear of failure can be greater than the joy you experience by reaching goals, and you’re very hard on yourself. High-achievers are focused on the outcome and don’t enjoy the process of creating, which leads to endless worrying. The problem is that when you’re not able to love and approve of yourself regardless of the circumstances, you become your own worst enemy. It also means that in between ‘wins’ you hate yourself, and have high levels of anxiety if you feel like it’s been a while since your last accomplishments.
3. The Imposter Syndrome. Many people deep down feel like complete frauds. Success is rarely satisfying and you always believe you could have done better rather than taking pride in your achievements. When faced with a setback and failure, you experience shame and embarrassment. Discontentment is the indicator of an ambitious mind. But the need to do more, have more and be more can be incredibly exhausting, as well as leading to burnout and anxiety.
To help create more fulfilment, emotional wellbeing and happiness it’s essential to uncover where your drive is coming from. What are you trying to prove? Who are you trying to impress? Dig deep into the past experiences that might have shaped your values, probably even as far back as your childhood.
It’s a misconception that you’ll lose drive when you don’t push through. In reality it’s actually the other way around. The moment you change how you treat yourself and learn to empower yourself instead of threaten ourselves, you create space for more creativity and workflow.
Try to detach your self-worth from your accomplishments and develop a relationship with yourself. Focusing on your problems instead of enjoying your accomplishments will make you miserable, so celebrate your wins. Creating a sense of fulfilment is deeply connected with being able to appreciate what you have, what you’ve done and who you are. That alone will give the quality of your life a major boost.