Five Secrets Fulfilled People Use Everyday

Fulfilled Book Cover

Feeling like you’re surviving not thriving? Author Dr. William Schiemann shares his secrets to fulfillment in this week’s guest post.

Are there real tricks to becoming fulfilled in life? You bet. My research and that of others suggests that there are key street-smart actions that those who are most fulfilled use every day. I interviewed over 100 successful people—some who were fulfilled and others who were not—to understand why success does not always bring about fulfillment. There was amazing convergence around several things that fulfilled people do. Here is the top five:

  1. Have strong values—and stick with them. Do your work environment, family and friends allow you to behave consistent with your values? Having to behave contrary with your values can be debilitating.
  2. Practice resilience. The ability to face adversity and bounce back. One part of resilience is having grit, a firmness of character, or as psychologist Angela Duckworth describes it based on her studies, the “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” It was a rare person who could pursue their long-term goals without setbacks in their lives—divorces, failed promotions, cancer, family members coming off the rails. Many people who I knew to be successful in their professional lives had many hidden stories of failures and bounce backs. They used a variety of approaches to get around those adversities that you can borrow in your own life, such as building a great support network of friends, or family that can support you as you plough through challenges. Those who had developed mentors found them particularly helpful. Some dug deep into their long-term vision or spirituality to help them overcome setbacks. We all have setbacks, it’s how you get up that makes the difference.
  3. Take risks. A really interesting finding in my research is the quantity of people who either took risks and vouched that those risks stretched them and enabled them to reach new heights, or those who regretted not taking more risks. It appears that wisdom brings with it perspective. What appeared to be huge risks to many when they were young, now seems insignificant in hindsight. Although hindsight is often 20-20, it would be too easy to dismiss this advice simply as sages looking through the rear view mirror. Instead, many felt so strongly about this that they have gone overboard in encouraging their children to take more risks. This is one of the most difficult lessons in the art of fulfillment, but you can help yourself by have a longer term vision, with many intermediate lighthouse goals along the way—stepping stones—that allow you to see the big picture. Imminent risks are often much less threatening when viewing the big picture. Another key is talking to those who have faced those risks before, often providing sage advice that allows one to reduce the fear and anxiety that comes with perceived risk.
  4. Find a good network. One of the most frequent pieces of advice among our sages was taking time to build networks. One out-of-work pharmaceutical executive told me that the only time he networks is when he is out of work, lamenting that he has not learned from past mistakes. It takes so much longer to reconnect with people and build trust, he shared. This is an increasing challenge to those who are overloaded at work today. Many interviewees commented that time pressures reduced their attendance at meetings outside work, limited hobby and family time, and reduced the time to simply keep up with friends and professional colleagues on Facebook or Linked-In. Most realized that having a good network is a key skill, particularly in the world we live in where networks and connections are increasing key to scoring the next great job, or finding a life partner or getting into the right school. If you are not building your network continuously, you are falling behind.
  5. Give back. An often forgotten element that brought fulfillment to many was giving back. Sharing your skills and experiences with others can bring an incredible sense of fulfillment when you see what it can do for others. I began volunteering for not-for-profits later in life and I can attest that it has been one of the most rewarding experiences. One group I encountered during my investigations was Rosie’s kids—a program to help inner city kids go ahead in life by teaching them stage skills—dancing and singings their hearts away. I first heard the backstory of so many of the disadvantaged kids—crack houses, abusive parent, abandoned, homeless—and then I saw these kids performing with huge smiles on their faces—and one child summed it up for me when I spoke with him at the end. He said that he was excited about his future—his chances. And with a tear in my eye, I realized that one of our greatest sources of fulfillment is enabled others to become fulfilled.

Take a moment to think about your own fulfillment. Do you have a vision, are you taking enough risks, have you built the networks to help you during difficult setbacks, and are you giving back to others more in need? Try it. I think you will find yourself more fulfilled.

William Schiemann HeadshotWilliam A. Schiemann, Ph.D. is CEO of Metrus Group. He is a thought leader in human resources, employee engagement, and fulfillment and author of Fulfilled! Critical Choices – Work, Home, Life, scheduled to be released October 1, 2016. For more information follow Dr. Schiemann on Twitter, @wschiemann and connect with him on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/wmschiemann.

 

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The Gift of Creativity

Painting

I have and continue to struggle with this. How do I put paintbrush to canvas, fingers to keyboard and present my thoughts and beliefs to a large audience when I’m not sure what will happen to it once I release it into the world. In other words, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

If I create and no one reads, sees or hears it, does it matter?

As a self-employed creative person, I rarely get feedback except for the negative kind. No response is often a sign of a job well done. But at a very deep part of my soul, I wonder if what I’m doing is having an impact. Would I still be able to create without validation or the knowledge that I’m making an ounce of difference?

But then I read this:

I think sometimes we get confused and believe that our gift must bring us money or success or fame. Sometimes those things do happen, but not usually. The only thing a gift needs to do is bring you joy. You must find the thing that brings you joy in the doing of that thing, and not worry about the outcome.

Writing brings me joy and satisfaction. My gift has happened to turn into a career, and parts of that are wonderful and parts of that are not. I am happiest not when I am congratulated on a book deal, but when I have finished an essay that says what I mean. That’s all. Expressing myself effectively brings me great joy. You will know your gift because it will bring you joy and satisfaction, even if it’s hard for you to do.” – Glennon Doyle Melton, Carry on Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life 

That’s it! It doesn’t matter if you receive validation, applause or recognition. What matters is the feeling you get when you exercise your gift. You may feel a tingle of excitement, a surge of empowerment, a quiet knowing, or a feeling of unfurling your soul.

Allowing your gift to come through you is a gift to the world so don’t block it. Give yourself the joy and pleasure of doing what you’re most passionate about and you will have also discovered your life purpose.

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5 Reasons You’re Still Stuck

Cat starting out the window

It’s been several years since your last big idea. But you’re still reading or watching about other people’s dreams while yours fades in the distance.

If you’ve wondered why you haven’t “made it” yet. Scroll through the following list to see if you’re guilty of the following obstacles that are keeping you stuck.

1) You’re playing safe.

People who risk big are often the most successful and the happiest. Taking a risk means different things to different people. For some, joining toastmasters or a choir is huge in the department of facing their fears. For others, starting their own business is a risk worth taking. If you’re still stuck in the same place you were last year, you may be too comfortable where you are. True enjoyment comes from taking risks. Find out what would make your heart race and take the leap.

2) You’re on the wrong path.

Maybe you dream of great things. But the things you’re dreaming of has nothing to do with what truly matters to you. If you’re fantasizing about financial wealth, but your real goal is to help others, you’ll stay stuck in a false facade of what can really make you happy. The sooner you realize you’re on the wrong path and return to the one that will lead you to your true purpose, the faster you’ll be on the road to happiness.

3) You expecting something or someone to change.

Life doesn’t happen because you’re lucky. Life happens because you take the necessary action to fulfill your dreams. If you’re waiting for the circumstances to be right before you venture into your life, you will be waiting a very long time.

4) You’re burnt out.

Perhaps you’ve run out of steam and inspiration on the path towards the life you want. The key is to mix things up, take a break, reimagine your vision. Change won’t happen while you’re emotionally or physically drained. Things will happen when you take care of yourself and feel refreshed enough to go after your dreams.

5) You haven’t taken any baby steps.

Big dreams do require big steps. But they also require small ones too. Skipping steps won’t get you there faster. Hard work, patience and continually chipping away at the small tasks (from paperwork to research) to get to the larger ones will eventually lead you to your dreams. Sometimes we need to face the small fears in order to give us courage for the really scary ones. If you haven’t made any changes in years, it’s time to reflect on whether you’ve taken all the necessary steps to get there.

Need help finding your purpose? I’d love to help! I offer phone and in-person dream coaching for those who need direction in following their dreams.

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The Importance of Play in Inspiration

{Etsy art by spunkyfluff}

{Etsy art by spunkyfluff}

Many people get caught up with words like, “progress,” “certainty,” and “maturity.” They worry when they don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. They beat themselves up when two steps forward leads to one step back. They are self-critical and ashamed when they are “acting immature.”

But it’s all part of the process. According to Care of the Soul author Thomas Moore, it’s neglecting the complexities of our inner child (the part of us that is playful, creative and spontaneous) that hurts us most. He says progress and growth are prioritized in our society, but they are not always necessary or relevant. Sometimes in order to grow or heal we need to take a step back. Sometimes in order to know what we want, we need to honor the child. To go forward, it’s imperative that we look back. He believes that taking care of your soul requires that you accept, nurture and pay attention to all aspects of yourself. And in fact, ignoring or attempting to deny your childhood desires, your inner joy, spontaneity, and your creativity can cause significant suffering.

Who you are right at this moment is a conglomeration of who you were, who you are and who you are about to become. To neglect any part of your soul in disgust, distaste or disdain will work against you. It’s like a critical and demanding parent who controls you into being the person they want you to be. You will never know your true purpose or calling if you continue on that path. The only way to awaken the part of you that asks the following:

Who am I?

What do I really want in life?

What do I want to be when I grow up?

…is to listen.

This means prioritizing play in your life. Respect the time you devote to reading, playing, creating and protect it as well as you protect time spent working. Embrace your inner child’s wants without judgment, criticism and reprimand. You’ve had enough of that in your life and that’s the reason why you are where you are in this moment. I’m afraid the only way you can free yourself from the hold of a stifling past is to release your fears and finally respond to the part of you that you’ve been hiding for so long.

It’s a frightening, but worthy cause.

For today, let yourself be immature,

open your eyes to life as if you’ve never explored it before,

and be okay, just for this moment, with not knowing what’s through that unopened door…

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What is My Purpose In Life? The 3 Stages of Finding Your Purpose

{Etsy stamp from MountainsideCrafts}

{Etsy stamp from MountainsideCrafts}

I’ve spent about a decade trying to answer that question. I looked for it in books, from gurus, school counselors, life coaches and even psychics. But it only took revisiting my childhood passion to figure out what I always knew:

wish list for a typewriter + hours of making up stories + writing poems when I was 10 + obsessive reading & journal writing =  writer

It took remembering what brought me joy that helped me to find my purpose in life.

Through my own struggles, I’ve learned that there are several stages to the path of finding your purpose.

Stage 1: Actively Looking

You might be in high school or college or have years of work experience behind you, but feel like you missed the boat when it comes to living the life of your dreams. If that sounds like you, you’re in stage 1. This is when you’re most actively searching. Like me you might be taking career quizzes, searching the internet, talking with friends, family and a career counselor or a life coach, or reading a book to help you get clear.

Stage 2: Soul Searching

I’d call stage 1 more of a superficial search. You need to get to that point in order to start getting serious about what you want to do with your life. But to really find out what you want and who you are, you need to reach in deep. To bring out my passion for writing, I had to explore who I was as a child, what mattered most to me, and what brought me the most joy. It’s seems easy, but recalling who you are at your very core takes a bit of courage. There’s a reason why you’re not doing what you love right now. Someone told you a) that you couldn’t do it or b) that you shouldn’t do it so you buried that passion way in deep.

Stage 3: Trusting Your Instincts

Bestselling author of The Purpose Driven Life Rick Warren says, “Your purpose is not about you.” It’s less about what you want, then about how you can use your innate gifts in service to others. How do we determine what those gifts are? When we learn to not just accept our flaws, but to think of them as strengths we can finally uncover our unique gifts. For example, since I was 7-years-old I would hound my mom with questions. I’ve always been this way annoying new acquaintances and old friends by my curiosity and need to know attitude. I realized after many years that this so-called flaw has enabled me to ask the right questions when it came to interviewing subjects for my writing.

Somewhere deep inside you already know who you are and what you’re meant to do with your life. The answers have been left like breadcrumbs on your path toward your purpose. You’ve just been too afraid, unsure or distracted to notice. All you need to do is to stop the outside noise (your family, your friends, the media that tells you what you should do) and listen to the gift that wants to direct your life.

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Loving What You Got

{flickr photo by QuinnDombrowski}

{flickr photo by QuinnDombrowski}

It’s not always easy to look down at your cracked shoes, your too light wallet, your larger-than-life thighs and say to yourself, “Gee, I love my life!”

But I’m going to tell you why it’s hard not to.

Even though you could list hundreds of things you don’t like about yourself, your situation, your life, there is within every single person so many GOOD reasons to legitimately say, “Thank you!” And it’s all the things you think you hate about your life that actually make it so.

It’s me when I’m being too vocal, expressing my distaste for a certain food or dislike for a restaurant. In afterthought, I cringe wishing that I could have swallowed my voice instead of spoke up. It makes me feel too diva-ish, too brash, too much. But it’s also the thing I love most about myself if only I allowed myself to embrace it.

You might find that same conflict within yourself. The thing you criticize about someone else-they’re too judgmental, complain-y, immature, etc.-are the very shadows that you try to hide within yourself. There’s a fear that if you were to let that aspects of your self out, you would be teased or worse hated. In Care of the Soul (a book that found me in Glen Ellen, California, in a “keep-a-book, give-a-book library”), Thomas Moore says:

“It appears to me that as we open ourselves to see what our soul is made of and who we really are, we always find some material that is a profound challenge.”

And oftentimes what makes us feel ugly and weird are actually just reasons for celebration. Why? It provides evidence of our uniqueness, our individuality, what makes us different. And sometimes that can be the answers to our life purpose.

Maybe I’m not supposed to stay small and quiet, but to be bold and expressive. And letting that side out is the only way I can release my fears and express my soul’s purpose.

That isn’t to say every bad habit or behavior is justified. But it’s also not about repressing or hating them either. In silencing our inner complainer, for example, we may be neglecting ourselves. Moore says the way toward healing is through love. And that means loving even the so-called hard parts and then listening to why they are there.

Holocaust survivor, Nobel Laureate, and writer Elie Wiesel said on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday:

“Whatever you do in life remember, think higher and feel deeper.”

I believe it’s only in completely surrendering to who we are in this moment that we can completely live and love our life. If we do anything less than that, we will miss our calling. We miss our purpose for being here. We become disconnected from our truth because we’re too wrapped up into what we don’t have, what we never got, and why so-and-so is so much better than us.

Thinking higher means we grasp onto an elevated way of thinking of our lives and our self. Feeling deeper means that we don’t hold back. We feel the highest of highs and lowest of lows and know that if we stay true to who we are, we will always land on our feet.

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Finding Your Life’s Purpose

I used to think that finding your purpose was as impossible as finding your keys on a busy morning. It was something you couldn’t do on your own. And it had to involve a little hair pulling and be stress inducing.

So I did that. I confronted it the way I did any problem. I used my left brain, researching like crazy, spending hours in bookstores and libraries pouring over job descriptions in the hope that I would eventually find my answer.

Of course, I didn’t find it. Because digging for truth from external resources never gets you to where you want to go. The only way to find out what you were meant to do is listen. You already know.

{I took that frame with my iPhone so forgive the wavy lines.}

The moment we’re desperately seeking something we’re forgetting our own inner wisdom. The intuitive voice that says, “Remember how you used to love creating stories when you were a kid,” or “think about all the time you spend taking pictures as a teen.” It’s that little spark of energy you feel when you’re doing something you thoroughly love. It’s the activities that make you feel like you’re in the flow. It’s an experience that years after it happened touched you and now you’re changed forever.

A dream isn’t something that needs to be discovered. A dream is already there.

It could have been planted as a seed from the time you were born or it could have grew into an entirely different plant as you’ve gotten older.

Your dreams are an already existing garden. Why haven’t you found it yet? You’ve let the weeds grow over your passion because of time, fear, and the dream killers who you’ve allowed to dictate your life.

If you’re feeling lost, stuck, confused about what you want to do with the rest of your life, stop asking others for help. Stop perusing the career section in your local bookstore. Instead, peer down into your neglected past. Remember your roots and nourish the moments that you used to love, but forgot about. Cultivate your passions and you will eventually rediscover that garden and those precious seeds you planted as a child.

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