Who doesn’t want a fulfilled life? My bet is that no-one would opt for an unfulfilled life if they felt they had a choice. In my experience, there are two common reasons people don’t live fulfilled lives. The first is that current circumstances are genuinely too challenging and simply surviving each day is everything that’s possible. But the second, for those who don’t live in those extreme situations and do have capacity to make change, is that people don’t know the steps to take to get started.
The Fulfilment Five is my formula that you can use to help you get started on your track to more fulfilled living.
Step 1: accept responsibility
Only you know which of the above two circumstances is true for you. The vast majority of us live in the second camp and either don’t know how or haven’t taken the time to really invest in ourselves. Most of us could create the time we need to develop ourselves if we were to prioritise our own wellbeing over other things. The first step to living a fulfilled life is knowing and believing that you are the only person who can create fulfilment for yourself. Anything that anyone else does on your behalf will only have a surface level impact on your life and the little glow it gave you will fade away in time. Only when you accept that the key to your happiness is in your hands and is based on the decisions you make and the way you respond to and create your world, will you be on track to genuine and sustainable fulfilment.
Step 2: know what you want
Once you’ve decided to take control of your destiny, the next step is to understand what you want, and you need to be specific. Vague ideas and loose goals will not get you where you want to be – and that, I am assuming, is living a fulfilled and happy life. So, ask yourself, if you were truly fulfilled and living your life as your best self, what would your life look like? What would you be spending your time and energy on? How would you be engaging with others?What would you be achieving? If this is hard to envisage, it can help to look at it the other way. If you were in your rocking chair, old and happy at the end of your rich and satisfying life, what would you be looking back on and be proud to have done? Again, be specific. You’re looking to build a picture of a ‘future you’ that will act like a beacon to guide you forward.
Step 3: identify barriers
Now, assuming you’ve always wanted to be happy and fulfilled, there are reasons you haven’t achieved what you truly want so far. It’s now time to identify the perceived barriers to your fulfilment. The first things many of us think about here are financial or time limitations, which are important ones to consider. But if time and money were not limited, is there anything else that could be holding you back? As an example, are you surrounded by a supportive network of cheerleaders or are there doubters that you need to face/ignore? Identify all the possible barriers to you achieving what will make you feel fulfilled and then decide what action you can take to eradicate or minimise each barrier. It may be that you hold limiting beliefs about yourself as the result of a past experience that holds you back at a more unconscious level. If you think that might be the case then consider having an exploratory chat with a Cognitive Hypnotherapist who can help.
Step 4: feed your strengths
I have found both personally and through working with my clients that one of the most effective ways to live a more fulfilling life is to identify your character strengths and then fuel them on a regular basis. There is a great, free 15-minute scientific survey of character strengths .It is a central tool of positive psychology and identifies the core qualities that come most naturally to you and make up the unique individual that you are. There are 24 strengths and through this survey you can gain a unique character profile that will rank the strengths in order of their significance to you. Character strengths fall into six categories which are wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence. Once you know your top strengths you have the key to what makes your heart sing. Do things that feed those strengths regularly and you’ll notice your wellbeing improve considerably. I was amazed at how many of my top character strengths I’d been abandoning before I trained as a therapist and learned about this stuff – it was no wonder I felt so flat!
Step 5: create new habits
The key to sustainable change is to create new positive habits that nudge you forwards to becoming the person you want to be, in small steps, every day. These don’t have to be huge life changes, in fact they need to be small enough to be possible but big enough to make a difference. Simple habits, built through repeated and consistent actions add up to incredible changes. Ultimately, results (and what we’re looking for here is a fulfilled and happy you) are defined by the choices you make each day. And consistency is key to shifting an act from a conscious one to an unconscious one. Once a habit becomes something you do unconsciously it’s so much easier to keep it up. Identify the positive habits that will help you achieve your goals and feed your strengths and enjoy the changes they bring.
If you’ve got to this point in the article then you’ve already acknowledged that the responsibility for your fulfilment lies with you and you’ve invested time in reading this and working out the formula to get you there. Follow these steps wholeheartedly and create the life you deserve.