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

How can I reach a sense of fulfillment in life?

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

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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 that 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 feeling grounded in life.

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The keys to feeling fulfilled

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. It’s our ability to build relationships and our own self-confidence that drive our capacity for success. The more supported we are in life via getting our needs met, the more we’re able to nurture feelings of contentment.

Mastering the science of achievement

Learning how to feel fulfilled is difficult if you haven’t achieved anything – so the first lesson for living an extraordinary life is mastering the science of achievement. Think of this as a formula for success. Mastering achievement means that you can take your dreams and make them real. To be successful, you must go beyond having an action plan and understand the Three Forces of Creation.

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.

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Force 2: Massive action

massive action

 

Here’s where you start moving toward what you want. 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 faster and more effectively; follow successful models and we get results weeks, months or even decades more quickly than by figuring things out on our own.

 

Force 3: Grace

 

We think of this concept in different ways; some call it “God,” others “luck” or “good fortune.” Yes, we can take all sorts of actions in order to make something happen, 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. The more flexible you are, the more you acknowledge grace in your life, the more it shows up. Grace will also help you better understand how you can give back, which is another key to understanding how to feel fulfilled.

 

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Understanding the art of fulfillment

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. Call it the law of familiarity – the more used to something you become, the less you appreciate it. But your life doesn’t have to stay that way.

To live a rich life, you need more than just success. You need to live. Feeling fulfilled comes from finding what makes you happy, what brings you joy.

Tony’s approach to the art of fulfillment is to 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. Even better, you’ll give more to those around you, creating a positive feedback loop of energy. Now when you achieve something, no matter what it is, you’ll be able to truly celebrate instead of feeling empty.

How to feel fulfilled

Learning how to feel fulfilled is within your reach. Master 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.

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. Cultivate positive emotions

No one is happy all the time – but you can feel fulfilled all the time. Cultivate positive emotions like joy and gratitude by choosing to focus on the good. Stop overanalyzing. Appreciate the abundance in your life. Smile, even when you don’t want to. Positive thinking will transform your entire perspective on life.

3. Forgive easily

Forgiveness is a healing force in our lives and a powerful element in feeling fulfilled. Holding on to blame and guilt – toward others and yourself – only causes pain and suffering. Release those emotions and you are free from negativity.

4. Choose your relationships carefully

Understanding how to feel fulfilled centers on the fact that humans are social creatures. When you surround yourself with people who bring you down, your focus will be drawn to the negative. When you surround yourself with positive people, you feel uplifted and inspired. You want extraordinary relationships, not mediocre or destructive ones.

choose your relationships carefully

How to feel fulfilled

5. Stick to your values

In the search for contentment, 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 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. Find balance in life

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.

7. Accept what you can’t change

Part of building relationships and feeling fulfilled is focusing on your own actions. You can improve almost any situation through your own choices, but you can’t influence someone else’s actions.

 8. Take a time out

Don’t get caught up in the rat race, only to look around once you reach the top and finally wonder how to feel fulfilled. Fulfillment starts today. Take a break to do something you enjoy. Spend time on self-care and family activities. These are the moments you’ll remember when you look back on your life.

how to deal with self-doubt

give back

9. Live in the present

Tony has said that “Every moment you live in the past is a moment you waste in the present.” The past is done, and the future is never guaranteed. Allow yourself to be fully present in the moment. Put down your phone and connect with the people you love.

10. Give back

Contribution is one of the Six Human Needs and can have a massive impact on your ability to feel fulfilled. Whether you volunteer, give to those less fortunate or mentor a young person, when you lift up others, you lift yourself up as well.

Discover how to feel fulfilled

Take steps toward lasting fulfillment by uncovering what drives your every action with Tony’s Driving Force quiz. Begin creating new patterns in your life today.