​How to have a fulfilling life — apply a little science

​How to have a fulfilling life — apply a little science

We all want to become more fulfilled, right? You don’t have to find a guru or go to a mountain top!

Much work has been done to understand whether there are principles — a science if you will — that can be applied to becoming fulfilled.

Dr. William Schiemann and his team at the Metrus Institute have studied this area for some years. They recently interviewed more than 100 successful people, only some of whom consider themselves highly fulfilled, to discover their secrets. His new book Fulfilled! Critical Choices: Work, Home, Life describes many of the drivers of fulfillment as well as some of the street-smart strategies for becoming fulfilled.

When I caught up with Dr. Schiemann recently, he shared five principles that stand out for discovering and achieving your purpose in life and becoming fulfilled.

1. Develop life goals

Many people interviewed had some vision about what fulfillment meant for them. But a strong majority did not have clear life goals — only fuzzy notions of what they would like to achieve by life’s end.

Still others he interviewed seem to be drifting along from job to job, relationship to relationship, not feeling very fulfilled at all.

Schiemann recommends a simple test you can apply to check your “fulfillment pulse.” Picture yourself on your deathbed with your family or best friends surrounding you. What would you like to tell them about your life and what you achieved? This thinking will help you get a handle on the three to four things that really make a difference for you.

2. Translate your life goals into lighthouse goals

These are intermediate stepping stones on your way to life goals. If your life goal is becoming a judge, Schiemann counsels, you’ll want to formulate a lighthouse goal of getting a law degree. This will require good grades and strong test scores, each stepping stones to your life goal.

3. Assess yourself

Schiemann advises, “Be honest with yourself.” While you might have a plan to be a great singer, if you can’t carry a tune, it is unlikely that hours and hours of work will get you there. We each have a variety of skills, knowledge, experiences, and interests that shape us. These have to be factored into any future goals and plans.

When you look at your life goals and lighthouse goals, ask yourself what knowledge, skills, and experiences will be needed to achieve them?

4. Make a plan

Couple your lighthouse goals with your key strengths — the skills and abilities from your candid self-assessment — to build a plan for your actions today. What will you do tomorrow, this week, this month that will propel you toward your goals? If your goal is becoming a judge, then hitting the books in school and studying for entrance exams to a good law school is a good investment of your time.

Schiemann suggests listing all of your major activities for the week and mark down which ones are most aligned with your goals. How much time that might be wasted could you redirect to achieving your goals?

5. Measure your progress regularly

Any top athlete, Olympian Michael Phelps, for example, will tell you that their success is measured in micro-seconds or millimeters. While you may not be competing in the Olympics, you are competing in life for key jobs, relationships, or a role in your favorite club. Says Schiemann, “The most fulfilled people that I interviewed measure a lot. Did they achieve certain milestones such as a degree or a certificate? Are they spending sufficient hours to become competent? And, even asking themselves how fulfilled they are on a regular basis.”

These five principles may help you achieve your greatest fulfillment. Happy journey!

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