Browsed by
Month: November 2016

Redefining a Successful Life: Fulfillment is Key

Redefining a Successful Life: Fulfillment is Key

Most people refer to success in our culture only as what you achieve. This is a big problem. Either we redefine what success in life means in life or we expand our discussion to include fulfillment. In this post, I’m going to argue that we need to redefine our definition of a successful life.

Many of the things I discuss are based on ideas that Tony Robbins has shared through various mediums recently. This blog post is my understanding of these ideas.

Tony says that to have an extraordinary life, or what I’m calling here a successful life, you need two key ingredients. You need the science of achievement and the art of fulfillment. Achievement without fulfillment is the ultimate failure. Accomplishment alone does not equal joy and it does not give you a sense of meaning.

One example is how often you hear of wealthy people being very unhappy. Excess income does not equal fulfillment. Many studies have shown how once you have enough income for a comfortable life by world standards, additional income does not bring more joy and happiness.

Science of Achievement

Achievements are what go on your resume though these things may or may not make you happy. They are mileposts along the way where we often get recognition. It’s the college degree, the promotion, or financial wealth. These things are important.

Tony calls it the science of achievement because these have a prescriptive action that are well-known on how to achieve these things.  Do you want to lose weight? There’s a body of science on how do that. Do you want to build wealth? There’s a body of science on how to do that. Do you want to graduate from college? There’s a body of science on how to do that.

One common thread on achievements is that the focus is primarily on the self. This will ultimately leave you hollow unless you couple it with fulfillment.

What is a great resume if you have no fulfillment? If you have no joy or appreciation?

Art of Fulfillment

Fulfillment is happiness or satisfaction as a result of fully developing our ability or character. It is different for everyone, just like art.  What makes me happy might not make you happy. There is no science or prescription for these things. This requires a deep personal exploration to figure it out.

Fulfillment is about growth and developing our full potential. Growth is what gives us something to give to others. We add value to ourselves so that we may add value to others.

When you hear about what older folks would change if they could go back and do things again, few say they would spend more time working. Many would say they would have worked less and spent more time with those they loved. I understand this to be less of a focus on achievement activities and more on fulfillment.

When you hear people speak of others at their funeral, you rarely hear just a list of achievements. You hear about their character: their passion and patience, their love and kindness. You hear about what made them happy.

Fulfillment is not a focus on ourselves, but more about how we bring our best so we can add value to those around us.

I’m proud of the things in my life that I’ve achieved. I’ve got a really good job, a wonderful house in an incredible neighborhood, and money in the bank. I have a graduate degree, a professional certification, and recently have lost 10% of my body weight.

But those things by themselves don’t bring me deep, intense joy and fulfillment. It’s when I get to use those skills and abilities to help solve a clients problem. Or give an employee the right career direction. It’s when I’ve invested in my body and mind through exercise, diet, and sleep so that I can still have energy and focus to spend quality time with my children each evening after work. That’s fulfilling.

While it is easier and more comfortable to focus on our achievements, a truly successful life is built on following the path of fulfillment and achieving some things along the way.

The Joy of Fatherhood

The Joy of Fatherhood

The joy that fatherhood can bring is unparalleled. A dear friend of mine, mired in the craziness of having a newborn, sweetly reminded me of this fact.

My children have touched my soul in ways that I couldn’t imagine. As my wife and I often say to each other, it hurts, but in the best way imaginable.

There are many moments while being a father that have brought me incredible joy.

I was amazed and joyful when our first child was born. But I was also exhausted. My wife went into labor at 3 am and was in labor for 25 hours. The first day of my son’s life I took most of the late night shifts so my wife could sleep and rest. I went on 6 or 7 hours of total sleep over 4 days.

The first moment of pure joy that was not mired by total exhaustion came about a day or two after we returned home from the hospital. My son was slightly jaundice so we were encouraged to put him in the sunlight if at all possible. Since he was born in January, the closest he was going to get was in our living room, as the morning sun poke it’s head through the leafless trees.

One morning, in the early sunlight, while my wife was resting, I took my son in his pumpkin seat over to the window. While he slept peacefully in the warm sun, I sipped on a mug of strong coffee. The quietness of the house allowed me to focus and appreciate the gift of my newly born son.

He was healthy and beautiful. The gift of life and beauty of creation moved me to be filled with joy beyond my ability to receive. I was overwhelmed with the glory and magic of it all. I sat and wept tears of joy in a moment that I will never forget.

Since that day, my children continually bring joy into my life in unexpected ways.

The first time my son said “Dada”.
The first time he smiled.
The giggles, the unsolicited hugs, and now the unsolicited “I Love you Daddy”.
The music we create, games we play, and mess we make.
The trips to the zoo, lake, museum, and park.

But regardless how much we hope and want to experience joy in our lives, there are steps we need to take to experience the full joy that fatherhood can bring.

Firstly, we need to be present to experience the joys of fatherhood. These moments won’t happen while you’re at work, or mindlessly playing on your phone. We need to set aside time in our daily and weekly routines just for them. To play, to live, to experience with them. I chose to eliminate and modify certain activities in my life and I don’t regret it for one moment.

And we need to be grateful and learn to fully appreciate these moments. I often hear people talk about how fast the time goes. In their voice I sense a slight longing to go back to the times when their children are young, slow down, and appreciate the joy just a little longer.

Knowing these times won’t last forever, I now take more time to just be with my children. I’ll watch them play or sleep. I give them extra hugs and kisses, willing or not. I tickle them again and again because I can’t get enough of the sound of their giggle.

Learn to be more grateful and appreciate them.

One of my favorite things now is the wonder, excitement, and joy my sons have in experiencing new things in life. Seeing the new hippos at the zoo, the first winter snowfall, or the excitement of Halloween.

Recently I was able to introduce one of my favorite activities to my oldest son for the first time: camping. On a warm beautiful fall day in October, we went to a nearby campsite along a beautiful natural river. Since it was October, we were almost alone in the campground giving us plenty of space to roam and play.

Being outside with my sons feels very natural. They explore, play, and tinker with a freedom that evades them inside. They can get dirty and physical without fear of punishment.

My son and I had a blast. We had sand in our socks and dirt under our fingernails. We played cards and duck duck goose. I showed him how to skip rocks, pee in the woods, and use a headlamp.

We watched the full moon rise and we stared at the stars for the first time.

The next morning, we woke up right before dawn and the first thing my son told me was, “Dad, I really like camping.” And then we had popcorn for breakfast.