Avoid these misunderstandings about living a meaningful life.

self-esteemthumbsup-main_FullClients come to see me with specific goals in mind: I want to get promoted OR I want to improve my relationships OR I want to find a partner OR I want to manage my finances better OR I want to be happier etc…

That’s what I call their immediate goal.

99% of the time there is an underlying desire which is much harder to articulate. This desire comes from a deep yearning to live a more valuable life, a more meaningful life and a more fulfilled life.

Understanding that you want to live a more fulfilled life in one thing, but living it is another!

This is because there are some common misunderstandings about living a meaningful and fulfilled life.

One misunderstanding is that

living a more fulfilled life

is about having more.

This comes directly from the language we use when we describe the situation: I want to have a more fulfilled life. It also has to do with the word ‘full’. To get full you have to have more to eat!

If you assess your life by looking at the gap between what you have and what you don’t have, then the goals you naturally work towards will be about filling the gap with things, tangible (like a promotion) or intangible (like a better marriage).  

These things, especially the tangible ones, result in fleeting satisfaction. Once you have those things, you will discover that the underlying yearning is still there.

Another misunderstanding is that

fulfilment equals feeling good.

Ellen, a woman I admire hugely, is a wonderful example. Ellen spends 4 mornings of 40 weeks every year running workshops in various prisons around Johannesburg.   These workshops rehabilitate inmates and teach them how to lead better lives. (see www.heartwork.co.za). When she is not in the prison, she is preparing for the workshops, negotiating with prison officials, raising funds, organising family days and graduation ceremonies for the workshops.

Don’t for one minute assume that Ellen feels good every day. She is often exhausted. She is often hugely frustrated with the red tape she deals with. Her heart breaks when one of her participants gets unfairly treated or abused in some way. She experiences a variety of emotions, some good, some not so good, as she goes about her life’s work.

While Ellen does not feel good every day, she certainly feels fulfilled.

This is the paradox of fulfilment.

You can experience inner peace while fighting  an outer struggle.

Leading a meaningful and fulfilled life is about:

  • Fully expressing who you are by doing what is right for you
  • Making choices
  •  Feeling significant
  • A life of purpose and satisfaction.
  • Living authentically according to your values.
  • Being the person you were meant to be

You’re probably thinking –

this is great, but how do I get there?

Watch out for my next blog post- I’ll give you some pointers and exercises to start you on your journey.

“To be what we are, 

and to become what we are capable of becoming,

is the only end of life.”

 Robert Louis Stevenson

About Kirsten Long

Coach. Toastmaster. Prison-worker. Wife. Mother. Friend.
This entry was posted in Fulfillment, Goal-setting, Life Mastery. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Avoid these misunderstandings about living a meaningful life.

  1. Pingback: The ONLY way to fulfillment | Kirsten Long, Coach 4 Life

  2. Pingback: The One gift to Give Yourself in 2014 | Kirsten Long, Coach 4 Life

  3. Loren says:

    So true… But right now.. Its a beautiful sunny friday morning, yet i feel scattered, confused, irritated and frustrated.. Im a stay at home mom, there’s so many things to do, yet to do it feels impossible, i feel unfulfilled and nothing that i can do today is gonna bring me any happiness of feelings of fulfillment.. I love my 3 year old… But i get no time to do things that would make me feel fulfilled from the inside.. My dad died and I run this household and im basically looking after my mom and bro, who are depressed. I feel smothered, and i feel like “Loren” is being lost in the process. I wanna get a job, get married and move out, goals that seem so far in the distance.. So im really looking forward to your next blog post, on more of an action plan. I read a lot of blogs and books, etc.. So ive got the tools, just not sure how to use it, or rather, the push i need to start to use it.. I am tired of living a mundane, unfulfilled, unhappy life.. To live, doesnt mean you’re alive.. Im not living..

    • Kirsten Long says:

      Hi Loren,

      Thanks for your comment and for sharing when you are feeling so down. It does sound like you are having a tough time. You have the emotional intelligence to realize that you are the one who has to change things, and yet I hear your frustration at not knowing how to do that.

      Sometimes when we are stuck, and feeling hopeless it’s difficult to see the way out. This is because we focus on how much has to change which is overwhelming. Focusing on all the changes that have to take place leaves us believing its impossible.

      Rather focus on a small change, one that you can do today. Maybe take two minutes to sit in the sun with a cup of tea, or write in your journal while baby sleeps/ eats.

      Believe me the smallest steps will get you there in the end.

      And you are quite correct when you say you have to take action. Change comes from learning ( which you are doing lots of) and taking action.

      Hold onto this thought: This too shall pass.

      In five or ten years time you will be in a different place to where you ar now.

      Keep in touch!

  4. Wilma Knottenbelt says:

    Dear Kirsten,
    Thank you so much for your wonderful e-mails. It is amazing that a person know all these things, but somehow you need to hear it again to affirm it and act on it again. Thanks too for mentioning Ellen’s work.
    May 2014 be a blessed and happy year for you and your family.
    Kind regards

    • Kirsten Long says:

      Thanks Wilma, its a strange thing about humanity – that we sometimes forget important things and need to be reminded! All the best to 2014 to you too.

  5. Leo says:

    “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire” – St Catherine of Siena

    Further useful reading from a spiritual point of view: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theanchoress/2013/04/29/you-will-set-the-world-on-fire-catherine-echoed-in-pope-francis/

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