What Color Is Your Parachute? a 1970 classic, assisted people in choosing a career that fit their interests and abilities. Today, that question can be better rephrased as, “What color is a fulfilled life?”
Although Parachute aided us in planning our professional trajectories, today’s world is significantly more complex and fast-paced, necessitating individuals to consider both their general life objectives and plans, as well as their willingness to modify them over time.
In a Metrus Institute research, nearly every respondent expressed a desire to be fulfilled—to achieve a condition of long-term satisfaction and to live up to one’s full potential. For the most part, this meant “being everything you can be.” Surprisingly, nearly four-fifths of those polled said they were not completely satisfied.
Even more intriguing is the fact that the majority of respondents aspired to be successful in some way—a profession in business, government, or entrepreneurship; relationships with family, friends, or loved ones; avocations, or a religious or spiritual purpose. However, only a small percentage of people were completely satisfied.
Five variables distinguished the most fulfilled from the least fulfilled among the successful:
1) They Are Adaptable.
Success and fulfillment in today’s society are frequently a product of our changing circumstances. When I first started working for Bell System, the monopoly at the time, a manager informed me I might have a job supporting the payphone company for the rest of my life.
It seemed true at the time, but most millennials have never seen a payphone.
Change is constant, and the most fulfilled people are able to change their goals and desires as they go along. They adapt to the times, anticipating when a job will strike a brick wall or when a relationship will deteriorate, without sacrificing their beliefs.
The most fulfilled people accept their obstacles, adapt, move on, and reimagine their future. The most dissatisfied people, even those who have previously been successful, are increasingly finding themselves in professional quicksand, unable to adjust and adapt to new situations.
2) They Take Good Care of Their Bodies.
Although health and wellbeing may seem self-evident, it was one of the most frequently mentioned topics by many people, especially type-A types. Many people are so consumed by the professional achievement that they neglect to look after themselves, failing to exercise and eat well, refrain from overindulgence, and manage stress.
One respondent stated that every day was a high-stress event, which eventually led to a near-breakdown. She was one of the fortunate ones who took a leave of absence after becoming pregnant, giving her the time to understand she was trapped in a rat race that was killing her through terrible health practices.
For many, a heart attack or other life-threatening event is required to make the point—often too late.
3) They Have a Plan For Their Lives.
The happiest people talk about a life vision or goals that guide all they do, not just professionally, but also at home and in other areas of their lives. Many successful but unfulfilled people talk about chasing money, titles, or the expectations of others.
Ted, for example, was a bright student from a family of bright children who grew up seeing his father run a thriving transportation company. Ted received a solid education from a prestigious institution, with a special interest in philosophy and medieval arts.
But then Ted received a call from his father, asking him to return to the company because they needed someone who could handle a product line. Ted had some success in his role, but he wasn’t living up to his expectations.
4) They are Well-Balanced.
Life balance is one of the most important defining aspects. Many of the less fulfilled focus just on the job, whereas the most fulfilled consider their total life balance—career, relationships, family, education, health, hobbies, religion, or spirituality. Many people later regret prioritizing work over other aspects of their lives.
One respondent said, “I missed my three girls growing up—something I’ll never be able to replace.” “I relocated six times for my husband’s job,” another added, “and I never got an opportunity to create my own profession.”
And a cancer survivor informed me that following remission, she fully rebalanced her life. When she realized how much was at stake, she had a fresh perspective on what she truly desired in life.
5) They Return the Favour.
This factor is especially relevant to baby boomers who have reached a contemplative period in their lives. Many of the most fulfilled people talked about giving back to others and helping them achieve success and happiness.
Even if it wasn’t part of their work description, many people have volunteered as mentors or coaches. Some have served on non-profit and volunteer boards. Others volunteered for organizations like Rosie’s Theatre Kids, which uses song and dance to help inner-city kids find themselves.
After speaking with several of Rosie’s volunteers, I learned that they had located homeless children who had fled terrible homes and had a history of drug abuse and gang violence.
I saw these same kids perform, and after speaking with a few of them, I realized they had begun to see hope, a fresh beginning, and a possibility to be satisfied in their futures—something that would have been unthinkable if it hadn’t been for individuals who gave back.
Time is the only global currency we have—we each have 24 hours in a day to spend as we see fit. Take some time to make a list of the things you do with your time.
Consider the following questions:
- Which of my activities gives me the most pleasure?
- Which ones help me achieve professional success while not necessarily bringing me happiness?
- Which are the time-suckers that are preventing me from achieving my long-term vision or goals?Use these factors to help you feel fulfilled. They could be able to help you improve your job and life satisfaction, productivity, and inner peace. They may also have an impact on individuals around you, allowing them to achieve happiness, productivity, and inner peace.