How to feel true fulfilment


I wonder if you feel truly fulfilled? Do you look forward every day with glorious anticipation to the day ahead? Does your heart sink at the thought of what the next day will bring? Do you love bits of your life and wish that the rest of your life matched up?

I believe that living a fulfilled life is largely a matter of choice. Now before you tear the article up or switch off the computer I ask you to hear me out. How many of you aspire to having a truly fulfilled life? I expect that the vast majority of you would want a life which offered them an ongoing sense of satisfaction and happiness. 

I find it really interesting that most people I speak to or read about are waiting for something even better to come their way so that then true fulfilment will be theirs. They present it in so many different ways the list below is a tiny example of the conditions people put in the way of feeling truly fulfilled in the here and now.

When things get back to the way they were when I was young, slim, fit, wealthy, carefree etc. 

When I have the perfect relationship, job, family, bank balance, figure, house etc.

When other people see how good, clever, helpful, talented etc I am.

When I reach my target, complete the course, become something else etc.

Fulfilment is a state of mind. I believe it needs to be tackled at three levels.

Firstly being fulfilled is about learning to love who you are now, warts and wobbly bits too. So many of us feel we are not good enough. Early experiences have installed

beliefs which are limiting. These can be based on a remark offered for the best of motives but leave a legacy of self doubt and anxiety. The problem is that we then begin to interpret everything within our experience through that belief. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. 

Loving yourself for who you are is not about being complacent. Far from it, holding oneself accountable to be the best one can be is vital. Being the best you can be is far more about looking for the learning when we make a mistake so we don’t make the same mistake again rather than beating ourselves up because we failed to get it right. So if you get something wrong admit the mistake, take the learning from it and move on. 

This leads on nicely to the second level of fulfilment which is all about learning. Learning is about being curious about the world and how it works. Learning from others present and past, being open to the possibilities which present themselves and the learning which those possibilities offer. Learning is also about using the experience of failing and when things go wrong to inform us how we might do things better. The fulfilment comes form being determined to use the learning in the future. Success is built on adjusting and learning from previous failures. Reflecting on personal growth is a huge source of fulfilment.

The third level of fulfilment is all about contribution to others. I think there needs to be a distinction between when doing things for others is the way you get your sense of self worth and contribution from a sense of who you are. Those who gain their sense of who they are only through what they do for others are likely to find limited fulfilment until they learn that being them is enough to feel of value.

It is where giving is done selflessly with no wish for personal gain that there is the potential for the greatest fulfilment. Try making random acts of kindness to complete strangers, where there is no sense of needing acknowledgement, giving anonymously or contributing where the only motive is to contribute with no thought of any return. Watching the outcome from such an action can be incredibly fulfilling. 

How ever trite it may seem you can choose to find fulfilment in ordinary every day life as everything has the potential to be extraordinary. From the moment you open your eyes you make a choice conscious or other wise to notice (or not) the wonder of each moment. It is your choice to remain in a loveless relationship or a job you hate to change them or find away to find love or satisfaction within the initial situation. 

Plan your life to achieve fulfilment. Take time to notice all the little things which nurture your spirit and plan to tackle anything in your life which gets in the way of your living your life to the full. Take control by choosing to choose how you live your life rather than being a victim to circumstance.

Organizations - Creating organizational fulfilment

I read a survey recently which stated that over 50% of people were dissatisfied with their job for one reason or another. That’s a significant amount of dissatisfaction. At a personal level that is a huge shame. At an organizational level it is a performance and economic disaster.

The most productive and enthusiastic employees are those who find their job fulfilling. Creating the right sort of culture, ensuring effective two way communication and matching the right people to the right jobs can have an enormous impact on employee satisfaction and their sense of fulfilment. That in turn impacts on the quality of their performance and on retention figures both of which have a direct impact on productivity and profits.

There are many ways to create the sort of infra structure which underpins a sense of fulfilment for individuals within an organization. None of them are rocket science but each element can have a profound impact on the way people feel about their work and how well they perform.

The flowing approaches are based on personal research working with individual clients, within my own organization and on the work I have done in a variety of organizational contexts. 

Fulfilment comes from feeling you are making a real difference. This works at a number of different levels. Some jobs are in themselves seen as making a positive difference, health, care and education are good examples of this. However many of those employed in these sectors find the fulfilment of the role undermined by the way the institution is organized. What ever the organization and its purpose it is important that every individual feels that their contribution is valued. The cleaner who keeps the working environment healthy and pleasant is as important as the person who makes the strategic decisions. They are just important differently. How does your organization show it values the contribution each person makes? Having the conversation with staff about what makes them feel valued is well worth the effort. It is often not about money.

Fulfilment comes from having a sense of control. Involving staff in the decision making process makes sense at a number of levels. If you involve your people in the process not only do you expand the skill pool, sharing expertise and experience which can save valuable time and money the process also reinforces the sense of being valued and listened too. That sense of having some control over what goes on impacts positively on a sense of fulfilment. I am not suggesting management by committee. There are times when it is both appropriate and necessary for managers to make decisions without consultation. In these cases it is important that staff understand the rationale. It is here that trust and integrity become vital. Even the most unpopular decisions will be accepted when it is clear that the decisions have been made for the right reasons and in the right way.

Lack of fulfilment is heightened by poor communication. To underpin fulfilment there needs to be clear channels of communication through and across organizations. Feeling left out of the loop or that decisions are turned over on a whim makes us feel of little worth. It is the sense of engagement and of being worth listened too which promotes fulfilment.

Working in an environment where individual values are at odds with the company values will begin to impact on the fulfilment of the individual. Those values should be made clear throughout the recruitment process so there are no surprises after appointment. The organizational values should be reflected within the culture and daily practices of the organization if you are to maximize fulfilment of your work force. A mismatch of values is likely to impact negatively on your long term relationship with clients and customers so it well worth the effort to get it right. 

Creating a sense of personal success is vital to long term fulfilment. Appointing the right person to the right job is at the heart of long term success for any organization. The recruitment process, your induction and ongoing training programme, the way jobs are apportioned, delegation, succession training all play their part in creating an effective workforce. There is a huge cost to recruiting new people, retaining the skills and expertise you have paid so dearly to create must be a better option. 

Understanding the level of challenge which people find exhilarating rather than frightening, looking at levels of boredom and whether work practices offer the best possible working experience can be useful tools to ensure you make the best of your work force and they get the best out of working for you. Where there are repetitive or unpopular jobs which need to be done it is worth engaging with staff to find the best way of tackling them so you ensure the job is done well and people get the best experience doing it. I have always been curious that the most creative minds are sought by organizations which then offer little opportunity for creative thought. Is it any wonder that so many highly intelligent and creative people are lost to the industries which appoint them once disillusionment or burn out sets in?

Many organizations create a sense of shared fulfilment by contributing to their local community or to a cause which everyone feels is important. It has a profound impact at a number of levels. It offers a shared experience. It provides an opportunity for everyone to share values of contribution which makes people feel good about what they are doing. It often allows people to shine in a very different context; traditional roles are often blurred allowing people to step out of preconceived limitations. These activities are often fun, laughter is such a wonderful way of getting people to work better as a team. It has the advantage of releasing endorphins which make you feel good and have a positive impact on the immune system and general feelings of well being. The organization has a raised profile within the community and ultimately on the order books.

Making sure that organizations encourage employees to have a good work life balance is essential to long term wellbeing and fulfilment. Short term gains from creating a culture of long hours, poor work life boundaries are soon lost through absence because of stress or burn out. 

Creating a fulfilling life is the responsibility of each individual. Offering a working environment which actively supports the fulfilment of all its employs makes sense at a personal and business level. May be it is time to review your own organization to see how fulfilled your team are and what else can be done to maximise organizational fulfilment.

Recommended Reading

by Herman Hess

This book explores how we go on reliving the difficult situations until we finally take on the learning they offer so we can then move on. The book offers insights to learning to live with the silence and be at one with yourself. Readers report that they have found it has had a profound impact on their personal journey.

The book is autobiographical.


"How YOU Can Manage Your Staff More Effectively (And Pave The Way To Your Next Promotion)" by Gina Gardiner

Offers lots of practical strategies for managers to help get the very best of their staff as individuals and as a team.

Everything in the book has been tried and tested in a variety of organizations; it is a distillation of over 30 years experience of developing leadership at every level.

The book does not attempt to teach grandmothers or grandfathers to suck eggs, but offers tried and tested principles, strategies and ideas which have been proven to work.

Time, energy and money are all very precious resources and all three seem to be in short supply for most busy managers.

How YOU Can Manage Your Staff More Effectively (And Pave The Way To Your Next Promotion) Can help! Dip into it if you are facing specific issues or use the comprehensive approach to underpin ongoing and sustained individual and team development.

It has relevance for experienced managers who want to share good practice and for aspiring leaders who want to develop and deepen their leadership skills.

The book covers a wide range of issues including:

  • Developing strategic vision

  • Creating your dream team

  • Creating a ‘Can Do’ culture

  • Effective delegation

  • Holding people to account

  • Developing a solutions approach

  • The power of anticipation

  • Giving positive feedback

  • Having those “hard conversations”

  • Managing stress for you and your team

  • Creating a good work life balance


How YOU Can Manage Your Staff More Effectively (And Pave The Way To Your Next Promotion) will stand alone but you will find it useful to use it in conjunction with the companion book Kick Start Your Career.


"Kick Start Your Career" by Gina Gardiner

This book is designed for new initiates into the business world and graduates who are ambitious and want to create a successful career for themselves. It is a no nonsense, jargon free manual, full of practical ideas and strategies to support the development of leadership from day one.

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