Let’s be real. There are tons of reasons that you aren’t feeling fulfilled, and rather than getting all Eat Pray Love and ditching your current life like last season’s dress, I encourage you to do the following:
Step 1: Lift your arms into a shrug
Step 2: Say these words “eh, sometimes life is just life.”
Chasing “fulfillment” and throwing in the towel when the going gets even remotely mediocre is, I am ashamed to say, a very millennial thing. Do not chase me with a pitchfork just yet — I am saying this as a millennial and as a person who wants to live a “fulfilling” life. So I have created this for both you and myself: the list to explain why we aren’t feeling fulfilled, and what to do about it.
1. We are putting all of our eggs in one basket
I don’t know about you, but I have quite a few baskets: a full-time job, a part-time blog, a boyfriend, a dysfunctional & cross-country family, a varied group of friends, and last but not least, myself. Expecting all of these things to all be performing at 100% fulfillment 100% of the time in a synchronized harmony is not only unrealistic, it is just plain bananas. Some weeks (heck, some months), work is just work. It isn’t necessarily scooting around Google HQ on your bike, sipping your green juice kind of work. It is just plain, old-fashioned work. You know, the kind our parents and grandparents did. And my grandparents didn’t scoot from one job to the next every time they felt the grind.
And do you know what? No matter how much I love Brandon (the aforementioned boyfriend), we might not always be skipping around a field, with our fingers interlocked singing happy songs. Just because our relationship is not a cupcake of fulfillment does not meant that it’s not adding immense value to my life. Even when our relationship is just chugging along, we are still making a conscious decision to choose each other every single morning when we wake up. This steady foundation allows both of us to seek fulfillment in other aspects of our life. I find this especially helpful during the times where another element of my life is pulling more focus and energy (*cough* work *cough*).
The long-winded point I am trying to make here is that if I 100% relied on work for fulfillment, I would be sorely disappointed. Just as, if I solely relied on Brandon and our relationship for fulfillment, I would be sorely disappointed. You cannot rely on a single thing to provide you with 100% of your fulfillment! Spread your eggs out into different baskets.
2. You are looking outwards, not inwards
When I talk about “looking outwards,” I am referring to two things:
- Seeking fulfillment from other people
- Looking at other people with the “grass is always greener” blinders on
Looking outwards to seek fulfillment from other people is a dangerous game that you do not want to play (although we are all guilty). And let me tell you why:
Your fulfillment is reliant on their mood. I don’t know about you, but just because my best friend is having a particularly shitty day, it doesn’t mean I want to have a shitty day, too.
What happens if that person was to leave your life? Would you really want them to take your fulfillment and happiness with them? Hell no! They can take their baggy shirt you like sleeping in, and that is it!
- It is plain selfish to expect anyone to fulfill you. Putting that much pressure on your partner, friend or family is not fair. It is your responsibility to fulfill yourself, just as it is your responsibility to bathe yourself.
The other way people “look outwards” is the good ol’ game of viewing someone’s life and thinking it’s so much better than their own. Not to get all 90-year-old grandma on you, but I blame social media (and I also kind of blame @elisecook — I love her but damn she makes life look good). If you jump onto an influencer’s Instagram, it is easy to assume that the world is a heavenly place full of oceans, rainbows, and fulfillment. Guess what? Not the freaking case. I have no doubt in my mind that your favorite influencer and their partner have petty fights, that they poop somewhere on the national average spectrum, and that they don’t feel fulfilled across all aspects of their life 100% of the time, either. Making any decision based on your perception of someone else’s life will lead you down a crazy road that will not take you to Destination: Fulfillment.
What we need to do instead is look inwards. Look into our souls, brains and being, and seek fulfillment from there. A sure-fire shortcut to seeking fulfillment? Personal development. When you develop yourself and are performing to your standards, life is a pretty cool place to be — but more on this soon.
3. Your diet/fitness is less than desirable
Food is medicine. Dedicate more time to improving your diet and increasing your fitness, and you will be well on your way. I am in no way an expert on this, so I am not even going to try to delve into this topic.
4. You are a hormonal freak-of-nature
Personally, it is hard to feel particularly fulfilled when my uterus is busy shedding and my insides are cramping. But guess what? There are another three weeks in our wonderful 28-day cycles, which is full of hormonal peaks and troughs. Let your body feel through this and don’t expect yourself to be on cloud nine all of the time.
5. You have plateaued
In my opinion, the biggest reason that you feel like you are lacking fulfillment is that you have hit a plateau. How do I know this? Because, like me, you are a go-getter. And us go-getters do not like standing still. We feel anxious, guilty and dissatisfied which leads to feelings of unfulfillment. For me, the definition of success is not driving that car or going on that holiday or wearing that label. Instead, my definition of success means that I am making a significant contribution to my field of expertise and/or passion. When I feel as though I am not on the upwards trajectory to hit that goal of “success,” I do not feel like I am living each day with purpose, and therefore I am not being fulfilled.
So, what do I do? I educate myself by reading books, studying behaviors, furthering my formal education, seeking mentorship, and utilizing the world wide web, which is literally bursting at the seams with resources. My definition of success is very work-oriented, but I also know that work (as much as I love it) will sometimes just feel like the daily grind. That is another reason I started my blog; it is yet another basket to help me feel fulfilled. I can work on my craft, upskill, and utilize tools and techniques without relying on work.
Okay, breathe. I know we have covered a lot today, but I do not want you leaving this page without some concrete actions.
A few things I want you to do right now:
- Write down five different ways you can source fulfillment
- Write down this affirmation five times: “It is unrealistic of me to want to feel fulfillment every single moment of every single day – not even Oprah is on that level.”
- Make a plan of how you are going to add value to your own life through education (it can be as simple as listening to a Podcast episode every day this week)
- Remember that when life isn’t particularly fulfilling you have the option to shrug and say out loud “eh, sometimes life is just life.”
- Think of one element of your life that is making you fulfilled right this very moment. LEAN INTO THAT!
- Sign up for my newsletter (click here or scroll to the bottom of this page) so I can feel fulfilled (whoops, sorry I am seeking fulfillment by looking outwards — did I learn nothing?!?!)
Thank you so so so much for reading.
Carly is a four-eyed, caffeine-addicted and severely-clumsy girl living down under in Australia. She regularly publishes rants, braindumps and even some tricks to survive life on her blog, The Chronicles of Carly, and on her Instagram, @thechroniclesofcarly.
Image via Unsplash