Bill Gates won life. He became the richest man in the world doing what he loved–building a company that makes software. Yet today, he spends his time directing research and giving billions to charities that address human suffering. Bono fronts one of the most popular and enduring rock bands in the world, but uses his fame as a currency for helping the needy in developing worlds. Our world is full of stories like these, stories of people who achieved their dreams, but then started over with work that serves others.
There is a lesson for us all here: Don’t aim for success–seek fulfillment.
Here is one of the greatest myths: “If I can just get my life straightened out, then I will be happy and successful.” There’s a lot of problems with that line of thinking, but the most important is the assumption that success will bring a sense of satisfaction. Success doesn’t equal fulfillment. How many times have you put off satisfaction until 'that thing' happens? Until you get the job? Until you get the boy/girl? Until you get the big break?
You’ll never find fulfillment until you learn what you want out of life. Start there: learn what you want. After all, the best stories are the ones where everyone knows what the main character wants. Frodo wants to destroy the ring. Rocky wants to be the Heavyweight Champion. . Katniss wants to save her sister and survive. You have to know what you want.
Once you do, set your intentions and begin living them on a daily basis.
Do you want more adventure in your life? Don’t wait until you have the time to go on an adventure. Create little moments of adventure in your life every week. Borrow some kayaking equipment and carve out a mini 3-hour adventure every Saturday. Do you want great love? Start loving those that are in your life right now with great purpose and intentionality. Don’t know who to start loving greatly? Try the people closest to you. Say those things that you find too embarrassing to share. Do you want more financial freedom? Begin making choices now that will lead you to that end. Get rid of cable, stop eating out so much, and start putting aside money. Do you want to get paid to do work that you love? Don’t wait until you find the perfect job. Wake up an hour earlier tomorrow and do what it is you love for free. Start now.
This isn’t rocket science. You know these things already. When we say ‘this has to happen before I can do that’ we lie to ourselves so we don’t feel bad for not living life on our terms. Begin living the kind of life you want to live in the midst of your frustrating circumstances. It will create an avalanche of momentum and will help to give you the energy to do the hard work required to succeed. More important, taking action now and living into your intentions will begin to fulfill you the moment you act. That energy will rise within you and transform every area of your life. It’s contagious. Before you know it, you will forget about the frustrating circumstances in your life or see the solutions before you as if you're in an IMAX.
There is a way to create fulfillment in your life. But it doesn’t come from waiting. Set your intentions, write them down, and then live into them as soon as you stand up from your seat. If you aren’t sure of every intention for your life, start with one and don't let the sun go down before you've acted into that intention.
You can’t afford to put this off. Don’t let someone else’s agenda for you life dictate what you want and what you do. You’re the person responsible for you. Get to it.