An insider's guide to a fulfilling life
In part 1, I took a look at the meaning of fulfillment and how it challenges us to design a life that reflects who we really are. I believe that this is a lifelong project, but we can also start the journey at any time and still benefit from feeling the harmony of this way of living.
FULFILLMENT underpins much of the career change work I do, and it also drives the changes my clients are seeking. So I’m deeply curious about what this concept holds for any of us intent on creating a full and rich life.
A FULFILLMENT lexicon
In one of my earlier careers I was an English teacher. I also studied Applied Linguistics and write poetry – I love words! So forgive me - I’m channeling my inner linguistics nerd here!
Each letter opens a door into the world of fulfillment. Read on for tips and resources to bring each word to life every day.
UNIQUE to you
This is about more that surviving, going through the motions, doing your time. It’s about growing fully and exuberantly - realising your very personal potential. It’s turning your face fully towards the sun, planting your roots in rich soil and giving it your all.
TIP: ask yourself where you really come alive. When does time disappear and your talents flow without constraint? When do you feel that buzz of everything engaged towards an absorbing end? When and where do you flourish?
RESOURCE: Try my free workbook ‘Discover Work that Sets you Alight’
UNIQUE to you
This is important. It is your potential you are aiming to release, which means creating life on your terms and for your deeper purpose. This is not about parents’ expectations, peer bragging rights or an arbitrary degree choice. It’s about recognizing what matters most to you, what your strengths are and what you are going to be proud of when you look back over your life.
When you’re 93 do you really think you’ll be proud of a legacy that says you ‘didn’t rock the boat’?
TIP: get to know yourself. What interests you, motivates you, plays to your strengths, suits your personality, matters to you, makes the contribution you want? You’ll be on the way.
Can you really make a living out of doing what you love? It certainly wasn’t the expectation I was brought up with. ‘Work is called work for a reason and don’t confuse it with enjoyment’ were mantras of teachers and parents when I was at school. But times change and expectations grow. Purpose and enjoyment are often part of the career choice discussion these days. So what do you love doing? And how can it be part of a sustainable career? Great questions! And don’t forget that what you love doing need not be confined to what you get paid for. Nurture your passions in other areas of your life, even if they don’t always lead to getting paid.
TIP: Make friends with what you love doing. Write a list and start doing something that really lights you up today. Nurture a talent, dedicate some time to mastering a skill you love to use. Notice what you loving doing in your current career and see if you can do more of it.
RESOURCE: the Direction phase of the Quickstep Career Change Programme gives this topic space and air for imagination to take flight. You have full permission to explore what you have never seriously considered before. Or try this article.
When do feel 100% alive? How can you get some more of that into you working life? Does your work trample on your spirit or allow your heart to sing? What purpose does it have? When you choose a fulfilling life, you’re committed to life-affirming endeavor. You’ve thrown in the corporate towel (in my case) in favour of your own path that has deep personal meaning. It celebrates life rather than sucking the joy out of you. Does that sound too dramatic? Not if you’ve had a brush with your own mortality and know the value of this ‘one wild and precious life’ (Mary Oliver)
TIP: Dance in your sunny spots. Do more of what matters most.
No, not the targets your boss sets in your annual review but your own carefully considered and chosen impact. What do you want to achieve in life? What contribution do you want to make and who do you want to benefit? This is the key to unlocking your true purpose in life – and it’s never too late to re-consider what that might be.
Unless you do, you are in danger of living someone else’s life
TIP: One of the visualisations I use with my career change clients asks what your message would be if you had 5 minutes on a prime –time TV slot. Why not give this some thought - what matters most and what will you say? What do you care about?
Everything lines up beautifully – talents, purpose, values, personality, interests – they all come together and find expression in your working life. This is what alignment means. When you have it, you have solid ground to stand on and you won’t be felled by storms and fashions. Getting to know your values is an easy and wonderful place to start – have you asked yourself recently what matters most to you? Knowing 5 or 6 of your core values and their order of priority in your life opens the door to fulfillment. This knowledge also empowers you to understand why your current work or life may not be fulfilling you. Which values are being trampled at work and is this why you feel so drained and anxious?
TIP: Identify your highest 5 or 6 values and you will have clarity on what is most important to you in life. this is a huge help when you’re making important decisions as well as fuel for the journey. Starting to activate them is the next step - learning to live your values on a daily basis brings you closer to a fulfilling life.
This doesn’t mean you give up and stop trying – actually, the reverse. You are content that your life is full of alignment and deep satisfaction. You are using talents you love, making a difference for the people who matter most to you, and expressing your highest values. It all adds up to a fulfilling life. You are complete. Keep going. Keep checking in that it’s all in alignment – but you’ll soon know if something’s off-kilter and that won’t worry you. You’ll have all you need to find what you need to re-calibrate and get the harmony back.
TIP: Invest in yourself. Know what matters most and honour it. This means acting on what you know. Read, reflect then do something to express your true self. Listen to your intuition, create some still space to know yourself. When there is dissonance in your life, spend time to find out what’s happening and put it right.
Most of my career change clients are looking for this. They woke up one morning – often midway through their career – and wondered how they got to that place. What was the point of their work? Who does it help and why doesn’t it satisfy them any more? How can they explain what they do to their children in a way that they can be proud of? Our need for meaning changes over our lifetime and what satisfies our ambitious wide-eyed 20 year-old selves may not cut the mustard with our 40-something midlife selves. Is this IT? What is your work for? This is the time when people often toy with the conundrum of living to work or working to live and the question:
“Are you making a living or a life?”
TIP: Values and purpose unlock the answers to these tough questions. Flexibility may now be more important than promotion. Freedom might trump predictability. Or meaning may trump them all. What are your highest values?
RESOURCE: In the CLARITY section of my Quickstep Career Change Programme we explore both your values and the deeper purpose you are seeking. This article is a great introduction and why some people choose to invest in this journey.
This one helps you rate your job satisfaction.
What are you great at? What do people always ask your opinion on and know you for? What inspires others about you? How have they been affected by knowing you? And are these questions making you feel uncomfortable?
In the UK, this line of inquiry often challenges the national virtue of self-deprecation, of not wishing to brag and shout about our talents! ‘Showing off’ is a swear word to some people. Time to get out of your own way if you really want to find fulfillment. Look your strengths square in the face and ask how you want to use them.
TIP: You probably already have a few ideas about what you’re really good at – what flows, requires little effort and continues to fascinate you? Answer those questions to find some great clues. How can you use these strengths more?
RESOURCE: Strengths are one part of the IKIGAI concept, which is also part of the Quickstep Career Change Programme.
This is about placing your attention upon what you want more of in your life. It means being aware and then acting on that knowledge. You might call this goal-setting, but that always makes me think of something clinical and hard. I prefer a more intuitive approach with a practical and committed follow up. What this involves is gaining crystal clarity about what you’re creating in your life (and why this matters) and then putting in place strategy and tactics to make it happen. Vision plus action. You’ll be acting with intention, which means there is energy and motivation to what you’re doing. Nothing fluffy about that!
TIP: Know how you like to work on creating your future. Do you prefer clear goals with a timeline and checklist or do you love creating something more visual and intuitive like a vision board or choosing a word for the year. In both cases the initial work on getting clear is essential, but its value will be lost unless you act and review your progress.
RESOURCE: My free guide to creating a vision board then activating its lessons is available on the career resources page of my website.
In the ACTION phase of my career change programme we build a bridge from where you are to where you want to be. You’ve created a vision and next we’ll develop a strategy and tactics that will bring it to life.
Twice a year I also choose a word for the year. This helps bring all my aspirations together in one word that inspires me to action and grounds me again when I have a bad day. You can read more and download the free guide here.
And if you’re starting a new chapter - moving house, re-locating to another country, starting a new business or experiencing a significant shift in your personal circumstances it’s important to pause and make the best start you possibly can: INSPIRED - Starting Again with Confidence.
What drives you to carry on when everyone else has gone home? What gets you out of bed in the morning? Most of my career change clients find there is a huge overlap between their motivations and their values. This is no surprise. Values are the things that matter most to us – it might be freedom, community, integrity or fun. When we can draw on these things to fuel our work then we can go far on seemingly nothing. We are fully motivated! Harness these to your deeper purpose and your strengths and there’ll be no stopping you.
TIP: get to know what your strongest motivations are – and be completely honest. No one is watching and you’re not trying to impress your boss, your parents or your friends. This is you. What drives you? Really?
RESOURCE: You can rate your job satisfaction here. I offer a 2-step Values Discovery service. Motivation is part of the CLARITY phase of the Quickstep Career Change Programme. You can also Discover Work that Sets You Alight here.
So how do you feel? Are you fired up to start your fulfillment journey, patting yourself on the back on how far you’ve come, or fearful that this is way beyond your grasp?
What’s most important of all is that you’re giving it some thought. You’re awake, engaged and care about what you do with your life. The real danger in my book is just not noticing.
If you need a hand to get clear on what your really want from your working life, just drop me a message
I offer a free 30-minute consultation to explore your current situation and what could help you take the next steps. Are you ready to start?