What is the key to feeling fulfilled 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 three 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 that when it comes, we find ourselves thinking, “Is this it?” Instead of feeling joy and excitement – feeling fulfilled – we become indifferent.  

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 expecting 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

Finding fulfillment in life 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 progress. 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

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 going until the figure 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, and 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.

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 your success 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 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. Find an exercise you enjoy that gets you outside into the fresh air. Take up a relaxing pastime like gardening. 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. Positive thinking will transform your entire perspective on life.

Changing your physiology can even affect your emotions. Smile, even when you don’t want to – you’ll trick your brain into believing you’re joyful. Throw your shoulders back and adopt a power pose – you’ll instantly feel more confident.  

choose your relationships carefully


3. Let go of the past

It isn’t easy to let go of the past, but it is essential for finding fulfillment. Recognize that while your past made you who you are, you don’t have to live there.

Forgiveness is a healing force in our lives and a powerful element in finding fulfillment in life. Holding on to blame and guilt – toward others and yourself – only causes pain and suffering. Release those emotions and you will be 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.

This is the power of proximity: You become who you associate with. If you want extraordinary relationships, not mediocre or destructive ones, learn to use it to your advantage.

5. Stick to your values

Our beliefs create our world. What are your values and beliefs? Are you living in a way that is true to them? Have you achieved your goals in life in an ethical and honest manner?

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

Perfection is the enemy of happiness. You know you can never achieve perfection. If you continue to seek it out, that prevents you from finding fulfillment. Life isn’t about being perfect. It’s about living.

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

how to deal with self-doubt

7. Accept what you can’t change

Like perfectionism, the need to control everything in life only leads to frustration. There are many things you’ll never be able to control: the weather, traffic, outside events and especially the choices other people make.

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

8. Take a time out

We all have blueprints for our happiness. We work and work to earn the big salary, buy the fancy car and get the house with the two-car garage. But when we finally reach our material goals, we still feel like something is missing.  

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. Go on vacation.


9. Be fully present

As you’re vacationing or spending time with family, ask yourself if you are being present. Are you practicing deep listening with your loved ones? Are you taking the time to notice the beauty all around you?

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. These are the moments you’ll remember when you look back on your life.

10. Give back

Contribution is one of the Six Human Needs and can have a massive impact on your ability to feel fulfilled. There is no better way to feel gratitude for everything you have than to spend time with those who are struggling. Whether you volunteer, give to those less fortunate or mentor a young person, when you lift up others, you lift yourself up as well.

Ready to find your purpose and start feeling fulfilled?

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