There has been a lot written about success. Success can mean different things to different people. Lately I’ve found myself thinking more about fulfillment, and more specifically, what do I consider a fulfilling life? The Oxford English Dictionary defines fulfilment as, “the achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted, the meeting of a requirement, condition, or need.” Fulfillment sounds a lot like success, but I find the difference to be a matter of depth. One can be considered successful and yet be dissatisfied, joyless, and totally unfulfilled in life. It’s rare to find the person who considers their life fulfilling that doesn’t, despite the occasional setbacks, also experience joy and satisfaction with life.
During a period of introspection, I thought about what for me is the measure of having lived a fulfilling life. I concluded that fulfillment means at the very least, I can answer yes to these six questions:
Have I assumed full responsibility for my life?
This means focusing on the things I can control like my actions, reactions, attitude and mindset. It means not playing the victim by blaming others for the consequences of my decisions or, for what I do or do not achieve.
Do I have positive and meaningful relationships?
I’m referring to people that you can be completely open and vulnerable with.
People that love you unconditionally simply for who you are and visa-versa. Relationships that hold one another accountable and are concerned with lifting each other up rather than tearing one another down.
Do I have goals that I am actively pursuing?
Goals provide meaning and purpose to life. Goals get your juices flowing and adds an energizing spark to life. There is just as much enjoyment in the process of pursuing the goal as there is in reaching the goal.
Am I constantly learning and growing as a person?
It’s important to keep the mind active, stimulated, and to strive daily to be as good a person as one can be. It’s vital to engage in mentally stimulating activities that challenge and stretch the mind. Start each day fresh with the intent on being a better you than you were the day before.
Am I open to having new experiences?
Remain open to trying new things and having new experiences; within reason that is. Try new foods, different forms of entertainment, travel as much as you can, even if it’s within your local geographic area. Life is to be lived to the fullest, so as Morpheus said to Neo in the Matrix, “free your mind”. Stay open to new and exciting experiences.
Am I making a positive difference in the lives of others?
This can be done through any combination of ways. Through your work, through volunteering, or through donations to name a few. The key is doing something that helps someone else. There are few greater feelings in life than contributing to the wellbeing of a fellow human being.
These six questions are at the core of how I measure fulfillment in my life. I am by no means perfect. I absolutely fall short of my ideals on occasion; However, I’m pleased to say I can answer yes to all of these questions. I keep them in the forefront of my mind. They are what works for me.
Your measurements may be entirely different and that’s okay. We each have to work that out for ourselves. I can only hope that when you look back on your life, you can say with all sincerity that it was a life well lived, and that you feel at peace, content, and fulfilled.