Have you forgotten how to enjoy life? It’s a bigger and more common problem than you probably realize.
I was having a conversation with someone about this just recently. She’s a friend of mine, but like most of the people I talk to, she was also something of a secret client. When you become a coach of any kind, it comes with the territory.
She had an interesting story that I’d like to share with you, because I’m sure you can learn something from it.
If you’d prefer the video summary, you can watch it below:
This girl is a funny critter. You wouldn’t know it by looking at her, but she’s a firecracker. She’s ambitious and bold. She has dreams so big they scare her sometimes, which makes her a girl after my own heart. Yet, somehow, she strikes most people – and myself – as quiet and reserved most of the time.
She’s living what many people would see as “the dream”, because she has a job doing what she loves. She’s a multi-passionate girl, and she’d found a job that lets her live out at least two of those passions at once. Even better yet: this job basically fell into her lap.
Her passions were writing, creating art, and helping people. As an art director and a social media manager, she was able to get a taste of each. For her client, she creates beautiful digital artwork with inspirational words or powerful words of wisdom on it.
Here’s the kicker. Just as it seems so typical of most humans, still, she wasn’t satisfied. How on earth?
For a moment, I have to admit that I couldn’t help but look at her like she was nuts. At the same time, I get it. That itching feeling that something is missing. That complete disregard for just how good you have it… all because it’s not exactly what you had in mind.
What was eating her? She had a dream to own a business herself. That, in itself, wasn’t truly THE problem on her mind… it’s that she doesn’t feel like there’s enough time to make both happen.
Worse, she’s driving herself crazy with how focused she is on not moving fast enough toward her dream. She’s rushing this phase of her life. She’d fallen into the trap of “I’ll be happy when…” and she couldn’t get out.
So, what was the REAL issue? There are a couple of lessons on living a fulfilled life that we can learn from this.
#1: She hadn’t learned the strategies needed to have it all. She’s totally closed her eyes to managing her time any differently, because her standards are out of whack.
#2: She’s looking at how far she still has to go, instead of appreciating where she is. She’s projecting her happiness into the future instead of feeling at peace in the present.
#3: Her situation was benefitting her with necessary experience that she just couldn’t see. She wasn’t able to look for the lessons hidden in this opportunity because she was too focused with moving on.
What we realized was that she was looking at things the wrong way. Actually, she was already working within the field that she wanted her own business to be in. How crazy is that?
When I brought it to her attention, it was as if a lightbulb went off. It’s funny how we can’t see things right in front of us until they’re shown to us by someone else. This, I believe, is why we ALL need a personal mentor or a best friend.
She wasn’t satisfied with her work because she was not in the moment to see how it was already helping her future goal. By working in this industry to begin with, she was gaining experience and knowledge she would need to advance on her own.
She often did virtual assistant work, which involved a great deal of time spent on social media. It was the part she dreaded most. Yet, that was the part that would teach her the most about how to make an online business thrive.
Unlike many people starting their own business, she already had insider knowledge of how a business ticks.
Changing her perspective helped her, but we realized that the problem ran deeper than that. She was not satisfying some of her basic human needs in her work.
Having an understanding of basic human needs as a whole, as well as which are most important to you personally is CRITICAL in knowing how to feel fulfilled.
Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs as simplified by modern psychologists is this:
- Love and connection.
- Significance. Feeling important, or like you matter to someone.
- Certainty. A feeling of sameness and security in your life. Having something to rely on and expect.
- Variety. A bit of the unexpected to spice things up from time to time.
- Growth. The sensation of being bigger and better in some way.
- Contribution. A feeling that you’re giving to something bigger than yourself. It’s why humans are all natural helpers.
With this knowledge, take a look at your life. Try to see which of these needs you’re not satisfying. Examine the needs you ARE satisfying, and how you’re doing it.
If my friend’s situation sounds like something you’re going through, you should start brainstorming ways of meeting these needs for yourself.
For her, the needs she was not fulfilling were a sense of Growth and Contribution. For you, it could be something entirely different.
We each typically have two needs that we seek to fulfill most of the time. Because of who we are and the kind of life we’ve led, each of us have our own pair of needs we focus on.
Beyond just work, you should look at your relationships. What needs are not being fulfilled in those? When we don’t get what we need from our relationships, this is where dangerous addictions or even cheating can come from. It doesn’t justify it, and it never will – but it helps knowing.
How can you communicate your needs to the other person? One of the toughest questions to ask is… are they capable of fulfilling them at all?
Look at your activities, too, and make sure that they all align with your values. When your habits don’t align with your values, you’re sure to feel miserable.