Achieved A Lot But Still Feel Unfulfilled? This Is Why That's a Good Thing.
Here is what you can do to feel fulfilled in life as you achieve great successes.
When I first started my private practice in Washington DC, I was faced with millennials seeking counseling for a presenting problem that I was not fully prepared to face as a young professional: “I have achieved all this but still feel something is missing.” And by “all this,” they meant going to Ivy League schools, getting six-figure jobs at the age of 24, powerful and influential positions working on the Hill, top-notch social life, and freedom to do whatever they wanted do and when. I was very impressed with their achievements. These young individuals had it all together, if you will, when it came to external achievements. However, internally they were miserable and still lacked true Self-worth after all these achievements. “How could someone be sad, anxious, or even slightly worried when they have all that and have achieved all this in life?” I would think to myself. They were looking for more fulfillment, satisfaction, and peace of mind internally. Achieving “all this” didn’t get them the fulfillment they realized was missing.
Achievement ≠ Fulfillment
Working with these high achievers made me realize that achievement does not guarantee fulfillment and true self-worth, which you really get when you go within and get in touch with your true Self (the Source) rather than identifying with the ego. In my previous article, we addressed that lack of self-love or low self-esteem is at the crux of any mental or emotional distress that get us into manifesting illness or undesired outcomes in our lives that make us unhappy. The lack of self-love or feeling inadequate is existential phenomenon for the whole human race because we feel separated from the Source whether you are aware of it or not yet. We are always connected with the Source and that is who we are at the core, but we get lost in the illusion of separation.
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Most of the organized religions teach that we are “sinners” or “impure” in some way or form, therefore, we have to worship “God” to feel wanted, loved, and blessed. We are taught that we are less than or not enough all on our own. This illusion of separation also comes with the development of ego (self-importance) when the child learns that she is separate from her parents. Most of the upbringing, pretty much in all the cultures, teach us to compete and get in the race of proving to others that “I matter.”
Ego ≠ You
I bet you know that you are not just your ego. You are far greater and powerful than just your ego, but it does get in the way. However, the ego is not your enemy. It is needed to live in this world because it is hard to live without boundaries in a world that is full of boundaries and laws. The ego actually helps you shatter the illusion of separation and makes you realize your greatness. In The Road Less Traveled, Scott Peck suggests that you have to harden the walls of the ego before you can attempt to dissolve them. And attempting to dissolve your ego is a developmental step towards a higher level of growth or consciousness. From the last hundred years or so, psychologists, psychiatrists, and philosophers have classified physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual development models, for example, Erickson’s stages of psychosocial development and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Becoming aware of the void or emptiness or “something is missing” is also a developmental stage (self-actualization) that comes after the lower-level needs have been met according to Maslow. When you reach this level of development, you can’t find answers externally. You have to turn inwards for your further development, which is to connect with or become aware of your true Self. And connecting with your true self means you are dissolving your ego so you can feel one with the universe and realize your full potential.
Growth = Fulfillment
Achieving results is one thing, but if you are feeling frustrated, annoyed, or not fulfilled along the way, you might be on the wrong path that will not lead you towards the next level of growth. "Something [that] is missing" is the connection with your true Self that makes you feel not loved. According to the existential theoretical framework, your whole purpose in life is to realize your greatness or self-transcendence. Your passion, desires, and achievements guide your journey towards your greatness helping you reach your highest potential.
Self-love = Fulfillment
Being an entrepreneur is not easy. Achievements are necessary. But I argue that internal satisfaction triumphs over achievements. Doing the busy work might rob you of your true joy and fulfillment of the work you are so passionate about. When you are in touch with your true Self, you serve better. You are a better leader because you know who you are. You create your reality and it begins with self-love. You feel the lack of love because you feel separated from your true Essence. Achievement does not necessarily mean fulfillment in life unless it is helping you grow so you can realize your greatness. And I claim that you can realize your greatness by simply loving yourself. I know self-love is not an easy pill to swallow. First of all, not many people know what it means to love yourself. I will talk more about what is self-love, what it is not, and how to practice it in future articles. Right now, it is important to know that self-love is a mindset that requires practice and dedication, which is what I help my clients create. When you make the commitment to love yourself unconditionally, you allow your old wounds to heal and realize your true Self. In the next article, we will explore more about your true self.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor