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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

On Fulfillment...


Life is filled with small talk. You meet and greet people everyday and chat about the weather, traffic or other surface topics. It’s rare that you meet a stranger and get into a deep discussion about life. Leave it to me to fall into one of those rare moments at a barbecue.

There I was, enjoying the bit of sunshine peeking through the clouds, sipping a beer when I was introduced to a friend’s cousin. We exchanged pleasantries and he joined a group of us chatting around a picnic table. Inevitably, the “what do you do?” question came up. Everyone said what they did and most of us said it begrudgingly. There was a sense that each person wished they were doing something someone else at the table wanted to stop doing. Ok, that might be less than clear. Here’s the breakdown.

Person A: What do you do for a living?
Person B: I’m a lawyer. What about you?
Person A: Psychologist.
Person B: Cool.
Person A: Not so much. I’d rather be going to court. It seems exciting!
Person B: Are you kidding? You get paid to listen and help people solve their problems. It must be so interesting!
Person A: I’m burned out and bored.
Person B: Well, I’m pushing paper and completely unfulfilled.

Those types of conversations spread around the table and as we tried to one up each other over our bored misery, we ultimately came to the conclusion that we all felt unfulfilled in some way. Of course, the psychologist started asking people what they were doing to change their situations. That’s when the excuses started. Health insurance! Money! Cost of living! Golden Handcuffs! Comfort with the known! Risk aversion! Each rang out in a chorus of familiar excuses and my voice was certainly ringing out with everyone else’s. Then some of us started hedging by listing other ways we find fulfillment. For me, it’s through volunteer work, relationships, and faith/spiritual practice.

This intrigued the leader of our little makeshift group therapy session. He started to talk about his childhood and how hard his father worked to afford them meaningful childhood experiences. He said he is sure his dad wasn’t fulfilled by his job but the moments he created with the money he earned and the schedule he was able to craft fulfilled him.  He’d decided to stop looking for fulfillment in his job years ago and said he is a lot happier for it.

The notion of following your passion and looking for fulfillment in your job has gained momentum in the last few years. If you’re not fulfilled, it can leave you feeling deflated. The truth is following your passion doesn’t mean you have to earn a buck from it. It’s nice to be able to. Actually, I imagine it’s pretty awesome. But, you can also work a steady job and still make time to explore your passions. Find fulfillment any way you can but don’t depend on your 9 to 5 to complete you. Just make sure not to let it steal everything you’ve got. Walk away at the end of the day grateful for being employed and dive head first into something that gives you immense joy.


How do you find fulfillment in your daily life? Are you working in your passion or do you seek it elsewhere?  

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