I’ve achieved success – why don’t I feel fulfilled or satisfied?

What you will get from this article:

  • Practical strategies for learning how to feel fulfilled
  • Why a sense of fulfillment and achievement are essential to a happy life
  • The 3 forces of creation that result in ultimate achievement
  • The impact that feeling fulfilled has on your life


Have you ever felt unhappy after completing an important goal? It happens to many of us. We’ve been focused for so long on a particular outcome, but when it comes, we find ourselves thinking, “Is this it?” Instead of feeling joy and excitement feeling fulfilled we’ve become blasé. 

How can that be the norm? Why isn’t the achievement enough? When do we fully grasp how to feel fulfilled? Learning how to feel fulfilled is not just an added benefit or perk – it’s vital to our feeling grounded in life.

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Real fulfillment doesn’t come from material possessions, wealth or success alone. Harvard professor Todd Rose advocates that individuals transform their understanding of how to feel fulfilled. Rather than look to success to provide contentment, we must turn our attention to fulfillment itself. Life is not an either/or where we are either “successful” (trapped in a rat race to keep up with the Joneses) or “fulfilled” (sacrificing outward success to tend to “softer” emotional needs). Success and fulfillment are complementary pursuits. 

Learning how to find fulfillment is within your reach. Understand Tony’s two master lessons to living an extraordinary life – the science of achievement and the art of fulfillment – and you have the tools for a sustainable life of happiness that enriches not only yourself, but those around you.

Feeling fulfilled part one: Mastering the science of achievement

The first step to feeling fulfilled is to commit to CANI: Constant And Never-ending Improvement. After all, if you’re not growing, you’re dying – and it’s hard to discover how to feel fulfilled when you feel like you’re running in place. The science of achievement is the ability to turn any dream into reality. It’s a formula for success that allows you to produce the results you want in life. It comes from following the 3 Forces of Creation, which pushes beyond just having an action plan.

Force 1: Focus

In order to make something happen, you must channel the power of absolute clarity and commitment. To awaken your sense of fulfillment, remember that where your focus goes, energy flows. You must have a desire and hunger to get started without that, you won’t have the ability to see the process through to the end.

We often start out completely focused on our goal: We’re going to get that promotion, live a healthier lifestyle or find a loving and supportive relationship. Your goal is fun and you’re making good strides. But the road to feeling fulfilled isn’t always smooth. You hit a setback or your growth plateaus, and this is where the real challenge begins. Those who have mastered the science of achievement overcome obstacles with a growth mindset and inner strength that helps them stay focused on their goals.


Force 2: Massive action

massive action

There is no success without taking massive determined action. Set goals, track your progress and recalibrate. If your current approach to feeling fulfilled isn’t working, change it. Think about a child learning to walk. If they gave up as soon as they fell down, no one would ever learn to walk at all. Instead, kids keep trying and trying until they’ve figured out walking, then running. No one ever says to them, “Listen, walking is just too hard. Just give it up, kid.”

The other key to taking massive action is to find a model for effective execution. Take someone who’s achieved what you want whether your goal is to earn a billion dollars or lose weight and find out how they did it. Role models and mentors help us learn how to find fulfillment faster and more effectively; follow successful models and we get results weeks, months or even decades more quickly than by trying to figure things out on our own.

Force 3: Grace

We can take all sorts of actions in order to start feeling fulfilled, but what about the other elements on the path to success, the things we can’t control but help us along anyway? That’s grace. We think of this concept in different ways; some call it “God,” others “luck” or “good fortune.” But grace is more than luck: it’s a way of looking at the world. It means understanding that life is about what you give, not what you get. It’s your chance to create meaning in your life.

The more flexible you are, the more you acknowledge grace in your life, the more it shows up – this is the law of attraction, an essential piece of how to feel fulfilled. And every experience of grace is an opportunity for you to do something greater than yourself and gain valuable insights along the way. As Tony says, “Life is really about creating meaning — and meaning doesn’t come from what you get; it comes from what you give.”


Feeling fulfilled part two: Living a rich and meaningful life

Achievement alone can only take you so far. There are plenty of people who are incredibly successful, yet remain unhappy and discontented. It’s like they don’t know how to feel fulfilled at all. To live a rich life, you need more than just success. You need to live. And living requires fulfillment, not just achievement. Feeling fulfilled comes from finding what makes you happy, what brings you joy and what you can give back to others. It’s about “we,” not “me.”

How to feel fulfilled

1. Start small

To really grasp how to feel fulfilled in life, it’s okay to take baby steps. You probably won’t be able to build an unshakeable sense of fulfillment overnight, but with consistent effort, feeling fulfilled can become your new norm. Even when you’re starting small, remember to set goals and stick to them. Change your morning routine to include a short priming exercise. Write in a gratitude journal each night. Every small action you take adds up to greater fulfillment.

2. Trade expectation for appreciation

Tony’s approach to truly understand how to find fulfillment? Trade expectation for appreciation. Instead of expecting something – falling into the trap of familiarity – appreciate that it’s there. Your mind alone won’t make you happy – we’re programmed to search for and find faults and failures, not focus on how to feel fulfilled. But choose to take delight in the ordinary, like a smile or the sun on your face, and you become the richest person you know, no matter how much you have in the bank.

3. Choose your relationships carefully

Humans are social creatures – and that isn’t always a good thing. When you surround yourself with people who bring you down, your focus will be drawn to the negative. But you can leverage this need for social contact by surrounding yourself with positive people who make you feel uplifted and inspired. You want extraordinary relationships, not mediocre or destructive ones.

4. Celebrate your achievements

With loving and supportive relationships, you’ll be able to share your successes with people who will celebrate them, not make you feel like they’re not enough. That makes each achievement even sweeter. It encourages you to appreciate what you have and reflect on how to feel fulfilled in the moment, rather than always looking for the next best thing. When you do this, you’ll give more to those around you, creating a positive feedback loop of energy. You’ll be able to truly celebrate instead of feeling empty.

choose your relationships carefully

push yourself

5. Stick to your values

The path to feeling fulfilled is surrounded by distractions. It’s easy to be fooled into thinking if you could just have a bigger house, a nicer car or the corner office, you’d suddenly know how to feel fulfilled. And it’s tempting to compromise your values to get a fleeting sense of fulfillment. But if you’re acting against your values, the feeling of fulfillment is false – and it won’t last. When you’re true to yourself, you can trust that when you find what you’re seeking, it’s the real thing.

 6. Focus on yourself

While relationships are an essential part of life, you can’t depend on them entirely for fulfillment. The majority of your journey to feeling fulfilled must focus on your own actions. Stop being a spectator to your own life – step off the sidelines and take action. Realize that life is happening for you, not to you, as long as you choose to take control. You can improve almost any situation through your own choices, but you can’t influence someone else’s actions.

7. Make balance your goal

Many people who are extremely driven also have a perfectionist streak – and that can often be traced back to a fear of failure. Limiting beliefs like these will only hold you back from feeling fulfilled. Rather than drift to extremes – perfection on one end and sloppiness on the other – learning how to feel fulfilled means living in the middle. Align your life with your values, give it your best effort and be content with the results.

How to feel fulfilled

Ready to learn how to find fulfillment?

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