Why understanding what you want is key to finding fulfilment
We all seek to find fulfilment in life. Fulfilment in work, love, friendships, in our homes – finding joy in your life is, I believe, the key to a happy and meaningful existence. I define fulfilment as the feeling you get when you are operating in a ‘flow’ state, believing in everything you do. It’s a joyous thing to experience, yet many of us experience it only fleetingly – or never at all.
I believe the key to fulfilment is living with intent. That means knowing what you want and taking conscious, intentional actions to help get you there – and also being able to recognise ‘enoughness’ across your life’s spectrum so you can intentionally top ‘it’ up or bask in ‘it’.
By understanding what matters to you, you can find satisfaction in life – because you understand that everything you do is justified to meet your own needs. If you can live a life that’s true to your values and beliefs, then you will find inner peace and fulfilment. Sounds straightforward… but if it were that easy, everyone would be doing it!
How the pandemic has disrupted fulfilment
The last 12 months or so have put a huge strain on many of us, as so many of the elements that make up our worlds have changed. Our work, which so often forms a key part of our self-identity, may have transformed into a remote-working shadow of its former busy office-based self.
Or it may have been stripped from us completely in the form of redundancy or furlough. For high-powered executives, used to leaving the house early and returning late after a full and challenging day, the change in pace has been staggering and, even if welcome at first, it’s natural for the novelty to wear off.
Many of our relationships have been strained. Marriages and cohabiting relationships have been placed under enormous pressure as we’ve been forced into confined spaces 24 hours a day. Our relationships with our parents, our friends, our colleagues and our children have all changed. We aren’t just adult children to our elderly parents any longer; we’re also their protectors. We aren’t simply mum and dad to our own kids – now we’re teachers and playmates, too.
Work pressures combined with home school, financial insecurity, concern for older parents and isolation from our usual coping mechanisms – be that the pub, the gym, meeting friends, whatever – are taking their toll.
All of this is going on without any extra hours in the day, so it’s little wonder that so many people are approaching burnout.
How can intentional living help?
Living with intent will be different to each of us because we are all individuals with different values and beliefs.
So, being able to live with intent requires an honest and thorough understanding of the most important person in your world: you. Then, the rest of your jigsaw starts to appear and you begin to understand how you fit into your world – and what you need to do to make that right for you.
Living in a way that’s true to your values takes discipline and vigour. Think of the ‘eyes on the prize’ approach that sports elites have, when every single element of their lives is trained on a single goal. Each small action combines to achieve growth and success as part of a bigger whole.
Where do I start?
It all starts (and ends) with you.
The person you are is made up of thousands of events that have happened to you in your life. Your ‘now’ self is a consequence of your past. But, your ‘future’ self can be shaped by intentional living.
Everyone operates with a system of beliefs we have regarding ourselves, which shape our mindset and our feeling of ‘enoughness’. It’s these beliefs that enable that little niggling voice in your head that casts doubt on you and your decisions. Busting these myths is vital to success.
Take a long, hard look at your values and be brutally honest with yourself about these.
In truth, most of us rarely consider or assess our values and, if we do, we often water them down to something that’s palatable and easily expressed. But, crucially, that’s rarely the truth of the matter.
Knowing your values is vital because if these don’t align and aren’t represented in your life then you won’t ever feel completely fulfilled: something will always be wrong.
Understanding your values is time-consuming. Living in such a way that’s true to them takes an incredible amount of discipline.
Together, values and beliefs create purpose. Your purpose is the root of all your engagements in your life – at work, in your family, in your community. If your purpose isn’t defined properly, it will bring you down.
Then, you can find your ‘why’ – for now. Your why will change over time, as you enter different life stages and experience new challenges. But once you know how to find it, you can keep it in your sights.
Joy, fulfilment, health and wealth are products of a life that’s aligned with your purpose: an intentional life. Understanding who you are and who you want to be is the key to finding fulfilment.
Claudine Robson is an intentional coach. She works with people to help them define their purpose ‘in’ life and then strategises the steps required to deliver this.
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