"Accepting the notion that each person has some form of genius will not solve all the problems of life, but it can give more people the courage to develop a life of meaning and find ways to contribute to the world. everyone already has some talent or vision; what is rare is to find the courage to follow one's vision all the way to the destination to which it aims." -Michael mead, The GENIUS MYTH
Take a minute to remember your childhood. Think about the way you learned about success, about your purpose, or about your place in the world. Think about the ways in which you were taught about how you were supposed to behave, to act, to grow, to learn, and to be in different settings. Were you allowed to be yourself? Were you supposed to fit into a mold of an expectation?
Think about those expectations now. Do you still try to fit into the mold of who you think you should be? Did you reach the successful job, the house with the picket fence, the kids? Did you reach the expectation of having good friends, a stable income? If you have reached these, you may be happy. In all actuality, you’re expected to be happy once you’ve achieved these milestones in life. But what if you’re not? Happy, I mean. What if you’ve achieved all these things that you were taught you were supposed to have to be happy, and yet, there still is a part of you that feels missing?
Many of us confuse the need for achievement with the need for fulfillment. Achievement is more of a measurable concept. You set measurable goals for yourself, such as reaching $60k per year, and once you reach it, you’ve “achieved” that goal. At the same time, you may have set this goal for yourself with the idea that once you get there you’re going to be happy. What many people find is that they are achieving their goals, maybe even surpassing them, but it’s never enough. Once you hit $60k, you shoot for $100k and THEN you’ll be happy. Once you hit $100k, you shoot for $200k and THEN you’ll be happy. See a pattern? It’s a never-ending ladder that you’re always trying to get to the top to, except there never is an end.
Fulfillment comes from using your inner gifts. Fulfillment comes from knowing who you are and knowing what you want, the person you want to become, the purpose you were created to fulfill here on earth. Fulfillment is the feeling that of peace--that you know there is meaning in your actions, in your beliefs, and in the way you think. Many people have spent so much of their life reaching toward achievement that they have neglected what would fulfill them--what it would mean to live a life of meaning and purpose.
If you’re reading this and thinking “That’s me”, know that you aren’t alone and that millions of people are feeling the exact same way. Instead of focusing on the fact that you are unfulfilled, think about some steps that you can take in order to work toward developing this in yourself.
Ask yourself some of these questions:
“What am I good at?”
“What do I enjoy doing?”
“If I could do anything in the world, with nothing stopping me, what would it be?”
Or maybe you need to start smaller:
“What traits do I have that make me me?”
“What makes me different from the person standing next to me?”
“What makes me unique?”
Some of these questions can help get you started to making the changes to start living a life of fulfillment versus achievement. Once you start making the changes and feeling the difference, you will likely reach a level of achievement you never thought was possible. If you are struggling with these questions and would like some support along this journey, seeing a coach to help you find your meaning and purpose may be helpful.
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
Millennial Coach & Therapist