Let’s Talk About… Fulfilment

By Jeremy Godwin

Welcome to Let’s Talk About Mental Health; I’m Jeremy Godwin and every week I look at one aspect of better mental health and I share practical and straightforward advice that you can apply immediately to improve your wellbeing. 

Today I’m talking about how to approach your life in a way that makes genuine fulfilment a priority — so get comfortable, and Let’s Talk About Mental Health…

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This podcast episode was originally released on 16 January, 2022.

Hello and welcome to Episode 114, and thanks so much for joining me!

This week I’m talking about fulfilment and I’ll be covering what fulfilment is, why fulfilment matters and how to feel more fulfilled in whatever you do for a living. So, let’s talk about mental health!

Introduction

Even though this episode goes out on January the 16th, it is in fact my first episode of 2022 in the sense that it’s the first one I’m writing after taking a much-needed two-week break over the Christmas and New Year’s period, so I’m feeling well-rested and excited for the year ahead (regardless of what’s going on in the news!)… and also very grateful for all of you lovely people who decided over the past few weeks to become supporters of my work on Patreon, so a very big thank you to you all! By the way, if you’d like to access exclusive content and help me to keep this show going, please check out the link to my Patreon in the episode description or just head to patreon.com/jeremygodwin.

Anyway, the reason I’m sharing all of that is that a lot of my focus lately has, funnily enough, been on the idea of fulfilment (it’s funny because this topic was planned nearly three months ago, and yet again it’s highly relevant in the week that I’m actually working on it). I’ve mentioned before that I’m working with a coach to help me be much more thoughtful and considered about what I do with my work, and even my life in general, and it’s a timely conversation to be having given everything that we’ve experienced over the past couple of years.

Feeling fulfilled by what you do with your life, especially at work, isn’t just for the chosen few; anybody can (and should!) feel fulfilled in what they do. And with so many changes over the past few years, many of us are thinking about how to bring greater fulfilment into our lives; there’s a reason why so many people are choosing to leave jobs (and even careers) that no longer feel rewarding and fulfilling (and yes, I’m talking about ‘The Great Resignation’, as it’s being called, where hundreds of thousands of people — if not more — are choosing to leave jobs that are unfulfilling and meaningless, which is currently having a massive flow-on effect into most areas of employment).

So although this episode isn’t just about feeling fulfilled at work (because the concept of ‘fulfilment’ applies to your entire life), the majority of the discussion today will be work-related, since most of us have to do some type of work in order to pay the bills… and that means that our work has a huge impact on all aspects of our life. So, with that in mind, let’s get into some definitions and let’s talk about…

What is fulfilment?

Fulfilment, in this context, is the feeling of satisfaction or happiness as a result of fully developing your potential, in addition to also meaning the achievement of something desired (and those definitions come from the Oxford Dictionary). I will note that there are alternative meanings in English (like having your order fulfilled when you shop online) but today I’m focusing on fulfilment as a sense of contentment and comfort. Now, I just recently talked about the topic of satisfaction (in Episode 110) and this one is closely related, that episode was about life satisfaction in general whereas today I want to drill down into the whole ‘how you make a living’ thing. 

Like I said at the end of last week’s episode, I was recently watching a video by the writer and speaker Simon Sinek where he suggested that doing work that makes us feel fulfilled should be the norm, instead of some magical concept that only an elite few ever get to experience; in other words, fulfilment should be a basic entitlement (especially since our work has such a big effect on every single aspect of our lives)… and it was such a good point that I decided to explore that here. And that leads nicely into the next part of this episode, which is…

Why fulfilment matters 

And it matters because it’s about the quality of your life (which, again, is something I talked about in the satisfaction episode, Episode 110). Fulfilment is not a privilege; it’s a basic right. What’s the point of doing something that leaves you feeling unfulfilled or, worse yet, miserable? Your life needs to be lived to the fullest every single day, so it’s up to you to make changes that help you to feel more fulfilled and satisfied.

This is why I find the ongoing conversation about The Great Resignation to be really interesting from both a sociological standpoint and a psychological one. There are lots of different reasons why so many people are choosing to leave their jobs or even their career fields — and since we’re all unique, it’s virtually impossible to pin the reasons why it’s happening down to just one or two things — but according to a recent article by Harvard Business Review (which I’ll link to in the transcript https://hbr.org/2021/09/who-is-driving-the-great-resignation), the highest resignation rates have been amongst those aged 30 to 45. That’s interesting because those of us in that age group have traditionally been focused on consolidating our place in life as we mature; in other words, putting down roots and settling in to who we are as independent adults. Even just 10 or 20 years ago, that was the phase of life where moving from job to job, or changing career fields, was seen as being risky, and yet now more and more of us are choosing to pack it all in and try something completely new.

Why? Because life is too short to waste it on a job or career that leaves you feeling unfulfilled. What’s the point of dragging yourself to work every single day and giving most of your energy away if it’s not adding any value to your life?    

When you think about what you do with your life, especially in terms of your work, it doesn’t specifically define you however it definitely plays a huge role in what your life looks and feels like. I’m sure I would be a very different person if I were working in a different field to the one I’m in; I mean, I’d fundamentally be the same person, but since my day-to-day work would be quite different then that would have a flow-on effect to all areas of my life. I’ve done the unfulfilling jobs before; I’ve worked in career fields where the main driver was money and climbing the ladder, and I can tell you that, for many people (not just me), the extra pay and the job titles don’t matter if your heart isn’t in it. I mean, you don’t have to bounce out of bed with glee every day to go to work, but it should feel at least somewhat rewarding… otherwise you’re just dragging your carcass back and forth to the office (or the home office) for no real return on the investment of your time.

So how do you create a greater sense of fulfilment in whatever you do for a living and in your life generally? Well, let’s get into the how-to part of today’s episode and let’s talk about…

How to feel more fulfilled

OK, let’s begin with a big one and it is…

Manage your mindset — and what I mean by this is that you can either choose to look externally for validation or internally, but since all you have direct control over is yourself and what you choose to do and say, looking to be validated by external factors or other people isn’t going to help you find a sustainable sense of fulfilment. It’s why finding your sense of identity in your work can be problematic, because it’s not within your direct control (since it’s so heavily influenced by external factors, like the market or what’s going on in the business, etc.), so really focus on creating a sense of fulfilment and joy from within rather than chasing it from external factors. I’ve covered a few topics relevant to this point in the past: I covered control in Episode 48, mindset in Episode 31 and identity in Episode 30, along with joy in Episode 93, so check those out for more advice to help you manage your mindset. OK, my next point is…

Identify and focus on your priorities — it’s really easy to go through life without ever stopping and consciously considering what really matters to you, but if you do that then it also becomes easy for the stuff that doesn’t actually matter to take over your life. Take time out on a regular basis to reflect on what is most important to you — for example, the people you care about — and consider how those priorities relate to all areas of your life. If you’re doing things that are taking away from the stuff that really matters, or which are making it harder to devote the time, energy and attention that your priorities truly deserve, then it’s time to think about how you might be able to adjust your life to focus more on your priorities. I talked about priorities back in Episode 3, so you might find that helpful, and I guess that, for me at least, I’ve discovered more and more over the past few years that if it doesn’t matter in the big scheme of what is really important to me, then it just doesn’t matter. I mean, sometimes I have to consciously remind myself of that fact and I think that’s a good thing to do, because it’s easy to get caught up in the bright, shiny objects that actually don’t matter that much… so take the time to be really clear on your own priorities and consciously choose to make them a priority every single day. And that leads to my next point, which is…

Be present — and this is a topic I explored at length back in Episode 83, and I mention it here because grounding yourself in the present helps you to feel more fulfilled in this moment, which is the only moment we have for certain. Life is lived here and now, so live here and now. That requires you to develop a healthy attitude towards the past (which I covered in Episode 94) and the future (which was the subject of Episode 100), as well as choosing to let go of the stuff that just doesn’t matter (and I talked about letting go back in Episode 32). Choose to celebrate the good in each moment, no matter how small, and find ways to learn from challenges so that you can grow a little every day. OK, next…

Listen to your heart — and besides being a song by Roxette, the idea of listening to your heart really is about connecting with your inner self and letting that guide you (at least when it comes to the big stuff in life). I think we sometimes overcomplicate life, whereas I think that our heart (in other words, our emotions) is more aligned to what really matters to us, and so our heart is a guide. When we have strong emotions about something then it’s up to us to consider what it is that they’re telling us; I think that if you love something then do it, and if you hate something then don’t do it. Yes that’s a fairly black-or-white way of looking at things, and there will always be many, many shades of grey in between, but if you feel strongly about something one way or the other, then listen to those feelings and make a decision that incorporates both reason and emotion. I talked about emotions back in Episode 57, so you may find that helpful as well. Alright, so my next point is…

Reframe success — and by this I’m suggesting that you focus on how you’re making a difference in your life; for example, I push myself to focus more on the feedback I receive from listeners like yourself about how my work is making a difference, rather than letting myself purely focus on the numbers and how well the show is performing (I’ll be honest and say that’s tough to do, because the numbers are generally much more tangible and easier to access at the push of a button, but they don’t tell me how my work made people feel and that’s what matters most to me). Speaking of, if you’re listening to me on Spotify and enjoying this episode then you can let me know by giving it a five-star rating (yes, Spotify has a ratings option now!) and that also helps new people to find the show; also if you’re listening to me on Apple Podcasts you could do that as well, and that would be very helpful (plus it would let me know that you’re finding my content helpful, which is what makes me feel fulfilled)! And as I’ve mentioned in previous episodes, I keep a ‘Nice Feedback’ folder on my phone where I keep screenshots of — you guessed it! — nice feedback that I receive via my two Instagram accounts (@ltamentalhealth and @jeremygodwinofficial), and those help to serve as a nice reminder of how what I do helps people, which is the main way that I choose to measure my success. So, consider how you can measure your own success in a way that feels fulfilling to you (and I covered success back in Episode 74). One way you can do that is with my next point, which is… 

Focus on true abundance — and this is about focusing on what you have in your life rather than what you do not, especially when it comes to the stuff that money just cannot buy, like genuine love and connection. I talked about abundance back in Episode 111 and gratitude in Episode 46, so check those out for more. Next…

Have a realistic attitude towards work — because it won’t love you back, and the fact is that you are replaceable… so have an identity that isn’t wholly and solely about what you do for a living! I remember at one of my more recent jobs there was a running joke about just how quickly they would advertise to replace someone when they resigned (it would be advertised within a matter of hours) and the joke was that if you had passed away they’d probably have your role posted online before the body was even cold. I know, I know, not the best thing to joke about, but the truth of the matter is that most employers focus on the fact that, ultimately, they have a business to run, so don’t expect sentiment to get in the way of that. Here’s my point: don’t let your work be your whole focus; make time for what really matters most to you, such as your family, friends and personal interests (and, again, I covered priorities back in Episode 3). If your work doesn’t allow you enough time to enjoy all the things you care about, there’s a problem! Speaking of, my next point is…

Find a job you actually enjoy — look, I personally do not think that you have to absolutely love your job, mainly because that can be dangerous in terms of it potentially taking over your life and taking you away from the people and things that really matter to you (and that’s where boundaries come in, which I’ll cover in the next point). But at the very least I think you need to enjoy what you do, in the sense that it makes you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile rather than just wasting your time at a dead-end job. We all have bills to pay, but if the work you do to pay those bills feels like it’s sucking the life out of you, then that is going to lead you to feel unfulfilled (and probably completely miserable), so find work that you feel good about doing. Next…

Set and maintain boundaries — and is anybody really surprised that I mentioned this one, since I talk about boundaries pretty much every single episode (plus I already warned you in the last point I was bringing this one up)?! Look, even if you really enjoy what you do and you feel fulfilled by it, you still need to make sure it doesn’t creep its way into every area of your life, otherwise you’ll wind up feeling exhausted. I should know; I was finding myself doing bits of my work seven days a week at one point and I was exhausted (something I just discussed in Episode 109, about the value of rest), and the fact is that that is just not healthy or sustainable. Think about your priorities and then set clear boundaries to make sure that you’re approaching your work — and your life — in a mindful and considered way. I talked about boundaries in Episode 53 plus I touched on this more in the work episode, which was Episode 87, so check those out. OK, so my next tip is…

If you feel like you can do better, then do better — and this applies to both work and life in general; honestly, if you ever find yourself in any situation in life where you’re thinking “I can do better than this” then guess what? You can do better. Because to get to that point means you’re probably already fairly dissatisfied in whatever the situation is, so it’s probably time to change. And bear in mind what I say quite often in this show: if nothing changes, then nothing changes. Speaking of change and new things, my next point is… 

Spice up your life — life is an adventure, so treat it like one! The point I’m making here (besides quoting the Spice Girls like I do on a regular basis!) is that variety makes life interesting; routines are great for providing us with consistency and stability (two very important foundations of better mental health), however you still need to have some fun otherwise you’ll likely find yourself feeling bored and unfulfilled. So, live your life to the fullest. Try new things, travel to new places (when it’s safe to do so), learn new skills and have lots of life experiences that feel exciting and rewarding, regardless of whether big or small. Alright, my next point is…

Choose who you spend your time with — because even though you’re in control of your own words and actions, the people you spend time with will have a direct influence on how you think, feel and behave. Spending time with people who have negative attitudes or who make self-destructive life choices will very likely have an impact on the choices that you make, or at least the way you feel about yourself, and that can lead you to make life choices that leave you feeling unfulfilled. Remember, you can’t change the people around you but you can change the people around you… so choose to spend your time with people who are positive and who leave you feeling inspired and uplifted. And by the way, I’m going to be talking about friendships in next week’s episode so I have a lot more to say on this subject! And that leads to my next point…

Enjoy your own company — because guess who you’re going to be with for the rest of your life? You! And that’s a long time, so you might as well like yourself! Sure, you might not be perfect, and sure, you might not have everything figured out, but do you know what? You’re still pretty fantastic! Focus on proactively improving your sense of self worth (which I covered in Episode 78) and treating yourself with self respect (which I talked about in Episode 96), and if you make a conscious effort to do that every single day then you’ll find that it helps you to feel better about yourself — flaws and all! — and that, in turn, creates a greater sense of fulfilment in your life. Speaking of, my next point is…

Allow yourself to be a work in progress — because nobody is perfect and we certainly do not have all of the answers, and I can guarantee you that every single one of us on this planet is just making it all up as we go along. And by the way, please remember that perfect does not exist (and I covered perfectionism back in Episode 98), so focus instead on enjoying the journey of growth that you’re on (and growth was the topic of Episode 37). And never forget what RuPaul says at the end of every episode: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”! And  so my next point is…

Keep it simple — and this is a bit of a callback to the thing I talked about earlier in the ‘listen to your heart’ point about not overcomplicating life; in general, the less complex your life is then the less complex your life is. Go back to basics and consider what simplicity looks and feels like for you (which I explored back in Episode 63) and don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to things that take you away from feeling fulfilled (and I talked about saying no in Episode 105). 

Summary and Close-Out

Because when it comes to fulfilment and mental health, what it all boils down to is this: How you feel about your life is up to you, and if you feel unfulfilled then something needs to change. We all have commitments and obligations, and I think we need to make decisions that are kind and which do no harm (to others or to ourselves) but the fact remains that feeling unfulfilled will have a negative impact on your mental health and wellbeing. Choose to find what brings you joy and satisfaction, and nurture your soul so that you can lead a life that feels meaningful and fulfilling to you.

The choice is yours, as it is with all things related to your wellbeing… so, what choice will YOU make today? 

Each week I like to finish up by sharing a quote about the week’s topic, and I encourage you to take a few moments to really reflect on it and consider what it means to you. This week’s quote is by the ancient philosopher Marcus Aurelius, and it is:

“Every living organism is fulfilled when it follows the right path for its own nature.”

Marcus Aurelius

Alright… that’s nearly it for this week. Next week I’ll be talking about friendship. The people we spend our time with, physically and emotionally, have a direct influence on how we think, act and feel… which is why it’s important to approach friendships in a thoughtful way, so that you can ensure you are surrounding yourself with positive and uplifting relationships — and that’s what I’m covering next time. I’ll be talking about what friendship is, why friendship matters and how to have healthier relationships with your friends.

I hope you’ll join me for that episode, which will be released on Sunday the 23rd of January, 2022. 

And catch my latest YouTube video on Wednesday over on my Better Mental Health channel; take a moment to subscribe to my channel using the link in the episode description or head to letstalkaboutmentalhealth.com.au where you can also join my mailing list for my free weekly newsletter (and you’ll find my website also linked in the episode description on whatever podcast service you’re currently listening to me on).

And, as always, find me on Instagram at @ltamentalhealth where I post extra content throughout the week.

Thank you very much for joining me today — look after yourself and make a conscious effort to share positivity and kindness in the world, because you get back what you put out. Take care and talk to you next time!

Jeremy 🙂

Let’s Talk About Mental Health is proudly produced by Reconnaissance Media, helping you find gratitude and meaning. For more information visit reconnaissancemedia.com

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Let’s Talk About Mental Health.
Simple ideas for better mental health.

Let’s Talk About Mental Health. © 2022 Jeremy Godwin.

4 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About… Fulfilment

    1. That happens! Take some time to become crystal-clear on what makes you feel genuinely fulfilled and then remind yourself of those things daily (and I mean every day, because it’s easy to get distracted by other stuff so we need to constantly remind ourselves).

      Like

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