Feeling trapped? What does a fulfilling life look like anyway?


One way of a fulfilling life

In the last couple of months, my household has been a little busy. We did a sea-change.

Before I lose you – this is NOT an article about how everyone should do what we did. On the contrary, it shows that what success and satisfaction look like for each person is different, and gives you food for thought about what a fulfilling life could look like for you.

We not only moved house, but we moved countries and changed lifestyle

From the suburbs of Sydney, with long commutes and horrible traffic, to a village in New Zealand, where moving 15 minutes down the road is considered moving to another town (and a slightly crazy thing to do).

Why would we do this? Well with two young kids, we weren’t exactly experiencing the nightlife of the city, enjoying the extensive shopping, or going to museums and art galleries.

Instead, we were getting through each day and flopping into bed thinking, we ate, we worked, and we travelled… other than paying off a bit more of the horrendous mortgage, we haven’t really achieved anything.

Don’t get me wrong, we were blessed as we actually had a house, and we had jobs. But we both wondered if there was more to it all than this.

So we decided to give a sea change a shot – and once I was project managing it, it happened fast.

Everyone said what a great idea and how jealous they were

I can’t count the number of people who loved the idea and thought that it would be fabulous for them, except… their family were in Sydney, or they couldn’t get a job in a town, or they couldn’t move the kids from school at the moment… you get the idea.

fulfilling life

There are so many reasons for not causing major upheaval and moving the family across the sea.

But I think I’ve found the main one.

Because it is hard work.

And that is an understatement.

The work behind fulfilment

It has involved:

  • significant decluttering,
  • sprucing the house up for sale,
  • doing all the paperwork and meetings involved in selling a house at auction,
  • selling the car,
  • shutting down ALL the accounts and subscriptions (just think about it – Netflix, the newspaper, the food delivery, the phones, the power), and
  • redirecting the mail (now that is a story in itself, but I way too long to add here).

And lots more, but you get the idea. Then the removalists turned up and put all our stuff into a 40-foot container, and we drove away…

So then it’s easy, right? I mean, I’ve moved countries before (6 times to be exact), and I managed that fine each time.

Well, it’s not exactly that easy.

Let’s just say that relocating four individuals, two of which are barely verbal or toilet-trained, is significantly harder than moving country on your own.

But anything worth doing is hard work.

We’ve all heard that one before. You see the rags-to-riches stories, and the protagonist invariably spent many nights studying while keeping their day job, or working their way up from the mailroom to the top of the company.

The best discussion I’ve read on this issue is Mark Manson’s – it is definitely worth a read.

The Most Important Question of Your Life

There’s a theme to these stories, and Mark’s article.

There are no shortcuts. Most things you have to work hard, and even suffer a little for.

[blockquote align=”right” author=”William Goldman – Princess Bride”]Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.[/blockquote]

There are no surefire solutions that are going to make you happy, satisfied and fulfilled overnight. It is going to take some tenacity and some discipline.

But there are loads of dedicated, hard-working and smart people who are not happy, satisfied or fulfilled!

The issue is – what are they dedicated to? What are they working so hard on? Where are they applying their intelligence?

Make sure you are working hard on the right things.

So the last few months have been particularly challenging, and very hard work. But I am feeling much more satisfied than I would have if I worked that hard in a job I didn’t like.

Satisfaction in careers and a fulfilling life look different for everyone and are elusive for many.

If you would feel fulfilled by getting a promotion, you may need to brush up on some skills like improving your win rate on proposals. (Not fun I know, but worth working hard on if you want the fulfilment).

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Maybe for you, fulfilment might come from being able to convey your technical solutions more easily – so that your boss and client agree with you more readily.  How good would that be, writing a single email or report and they actually respond positively the first time!  To do that, you likely need to brush up on your writing skills. But not the basics of grammar – rather, how to convey technical content clearly, and concisely.

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If instead, you would feel happier by being able to get your work done quicker so you can get to your kid’s soccer practice, then you may need to work on some time management skills (and managing client and boss expectations!)

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So what is it for you?

I know it’s not January, but don’t wait until next January to do a stocktake of where you are putting all your valuable energy and irreplaceable time. 

Make sure you know what would make you feel fulfilled and how to get there.

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