Is there a secret to understanding personal fulfillment?
First of all what is personal fulfillment?
“Personal fulfilment is the achievement of life goals which are important to an individual, in contrast to the goals of society, family and other collective obligations.” – Wikipedia
Understanding what really drives our personal fulfillment is a question that has been raised many times over the years.
Recently I wrote a blog on what makes us happy. The underlying message was really that personal fulfillment, whatever that looks like, is what makes us happy in the long run. And as I argued, it can be different things to different people. It is unique but can be similar.
You may have also seen information posted on a question asked to elderly people.
“If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?
None of us want to live in regret and look back on our lives with disappointment because of missed opportunities and failure to take action. But many do, because they do not think of their life and what it’s purpose is until it is way too late. We should all be asking ourselves this question long before we are in the retirement home.
So the answers varied. Some said they would reflect more, some said they would take more risks, some said travel more, some said experience more and some said they would do more things that would live on after they had passed away, a legacy. None of them said they would do less.
It is interesting to note that none of them said that they would focus more on what their purpose in life is. Or does it mean that they already accomplished it? For some people, their purpose in life is indeed to leave a legacy, whether they recognize it or not.
But what is a legacy anyway? Is it personal success? Is it an award, a monument, a building, a business, a gold medal, your children or is it continued impact after you are gone?
John C. Maxwell argues that it is the latter. He argues that only people can provide that continued impact well after you have passed away.
So if developing people is key to leaving your legacy and to your personal fulfillment, then it follows that doing something to help others is essential.
“Our greatest personal fulfillment comes when we contribute to improving the welfare of others.” – Gail Lynne Goodwin
We know that giving of ourselves does make us feel happy. Whether it be donating our time or money to help others. But does that fulfill us? Making others better, to have a better life, to know that you have made a difference in their lives, that is truly fulfilling.
As an example, nothing makes my husband and I more happier or fulfilled than seeing our children be successful. Guiding, then, teaching them, giving them the right morals and ethics and mentoring them so that they become successful makes most of us feel fulfilled. We have influenced them. We brought them into life, helped them along the way, and now they can go it alone and carry on our legacy.
So in essence, helping other, whether it be family, friends, or those in need, it is really more important to personal fulfillment than your own career success, your own awards and recognition, or your own large bank account… and goes a long way to leaving a legacy.
“When you focus on developing people rather than chasing achievement, you will discover personal fulfillment. But more than that, you will plant the seeds of significance in the lives of others.” – John C. Maxwell
“Seeds of significance” – what great words those are. If you plant these seeds, and the people grow from those seeds to be better off, better citizens, better contributors in life, followers of and believers in you, then that indeed is personal fulfillment and your legacy!
So take time to reflect on what personal fulfillment means to you. I have suggested that it could be developing and helping others to be more than what they are today. This has significance. It may not be what matters to you, but for many it is, because giving of ourselves is inherent in all of us.
“Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfillment.” – Tony Robbins
That IS the secret to personal fulfillment!