The long winding road to personal fulfillment

An interesting day today. I find myself yet again consumed with the quest for polishing, clarifying, and if necessary, redefining my sense of personal fulfillment. I have come to realize (like many many others I’m sure) that personal fulfillment is a state that is acquired and maintained from within, not from without. In my opinion, it is one’s own feeling of success and well being that is requisite enough to sustain a state of personal fulfillment because in the end, that is all Gadgetsthat a person really needs anyway. Material stuff is just stuff after all. People are terribly connected to their ‘things’, so much so that not having a blackberry, iphone, mp3 player, etc around is reason enough to get depressed or hopelessly bored.

Well that’s quite a lot for a first paragraph, so let’s break that down into smaller bits to digest.

While people have a distorted sense of fulfillment – i.e. absolute nonsense like working a job, getting married young, having kids while you’re still young, buy a house/condo, end up in a financial mess, and plan for retirement as if you were still in the 1950’s, retire old, die without having lived – I look to differentiate myself, not for profit’s sake, but for my own sake! Can you imagine running around in a rat race all your life, waking up every morning to work for someone else, do the things that you complain about the most over and over again, and come home to watch tv shows so you can be further dumbed down, and then rinse and repeat the process.

Vomit. Excrement. The typical modern life has turned out to be pretty nasty. And that’s even when you’re not in any financial trouble.

See, I’ve always been told that it is absolutely invaluable to clarify my goals, to refine them to the point that the only option to take decisive action, to write them down, to draw them up, vision boards, laminated cards in your wallet, etc. Over the course of my life thus far I have done these things, and they work, simply because you set a clear goal. There may be a magical way of writing them down, but just writing them down makes a world of difference. I have achieved 4 of my 7 most important goals for 2010, and I can see this and ride this momentum because I wrote those goals down on Jan 1st.

However, aside from knowing what you want, I think it is equally important to know what you don’t want! This isn’t negative thinking (as long as you don’t get caught up in this area for more than a few minutes) but in fact, helps polish your positive thinking. Take for instance these set of goals for any one day of the week:

Wants:

  • I want to go to bed at the end of today knowing that I have accomplished all that I set out to accomplish today
  • I want to maximize my hour of power immediately after I wake up – jogging, working out, protein rich breakfast
  • I want to set up a broad to-do list, narrow it down with 80% – 20% (find the 20% tasks that create 80% of the results) and execute them
  • I want to grow by reading, learning, introspecting, networking, and focusing

Don’t Wants:

  • I don’t want to waste my time because that will take away from my play/enjoyment time
  • I don’t want to eat lots of carbs or anything fatty that will drain my energy
  • I don’t want to get lost in other people’s “stories” because that will not help me focus on the solution to the problem

Wouldn’t you agree that these overall goals for any given day in a week would help you accomplish outstanding results in your own life? Isn’t it possible that by understanding and clearly stating what you want and do not want to do, you can enhance your daily experience? While it may seem trivial, this example shows that actually putting it down on paper makes a world of difference, doesn’t it?

I have been using this method to help me gain more time and better results out of my days. Too many people in the rat race say this all the time, “I don’t have time to set goals”. I’m sure you’ve either said it yourself, or heard it from Some things are more important than otherssomeone you know, haven’t you? Paradoxically, it is precisely because you don’t have time that you must make the time to remove yourself from the mess you may be in. Your first thought in reaction: easier said than done. Yes, I acknowledge that, yet I’d like to make a small suggestion if I may. On a planet of 6.5 billion people, is it possible that at least 1 other person has been through a similar situation before? In fact that 1 other person may be going through that similar situation right now, especially since we’re all living in a small digital world, wouldn’t that be fair to say?

The hardest part for a lot of people I’ve met is letting go of this idea that a problem in their life is absolutely unique to them and no one else on this 6.5-billion-people-planet is capable of having a similar issue. Really? In fact, one of the most liberating moments I’ve found is when a person lets go of the idea that they are the only people going through a problem. As soon as that wall is broken down, a flood gate of solutions and alternatives opens up.

Personal fulfillment is a constantly changing result, a process that is continually modified because the goals that we achieve become our stepping stones towards bigger and more elaborate goals.

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