Career, family, love, religious, social fulfillment and internal fulfillment seemed notions that to me were independent of one another, especially given the ideal of leaving work at the office and enjoying home life. The interesting thing for me is that this view has turned around 180 degrees. I did not really expect that, but I have taken a lot of this coursework to heart.
As a professional, I can probably expect that my work will be hard and the hours long. But I also know that if I choose the right profession, and conduct myself in the right way, I can enjoy total fulfillment. Each element of my life is going to need to be in harmony, and for that to occur all the different areas in which I want to be fulfilled cannot be viewed as independent. Rather, they must all play a role in my fulfillment. Career ambitions cannot compete with family and personal fulfillment, they must support those areas. Career, because it is the one aspect of life that is truly a necessity (for most of us!) is one area where the right choices matter the most.
I know understand that finding the right career fit is a big step on the way to fulfillment. The skills one needs as a professional are varied, but those same skills can underline a wide range of career choices. If success in a mining company is something that will make me feel good about my role in the world, then that is something I should pursue for my fulfillment. Conversely, fulfillment may come from applying my professional skills in a governmental or not-for-profit setting. I am in control of those choices, and whatever choice I make will go a long way to me achieving total life fulfillment.
Being a professional is not, as I once suspected, a part-time job. One does not simply behave as a professional in the workplace only to return to home life with an entirely different approach. Being a professional is ultimately about applying that outlook, that way of life, to all aspects of your life. Now that I have come to this realization, I can begin to do the things necessary to bring about a consistency and uniformity of focus in my life, and in particular to cultivate consistency in my habits. If I uphold the same professional standards of behavior in my non-work life as I do in my work life, I believe I will be that much closer to achieving personal fulfillment on all levels.
Leading a fulfilling life, therefore, is something that is possible. Because life today is so complex, we need to gain an understanding of what we want out of life and take the time to think about how we might go about getting there. Ultimately, the lesson I take is that life is not really about achieving an end state called 'fulfillment'. Fulfillment is the state of doing the right things the right way. It is a state of feeling that I am no longer working towards something far down the line, but feeling like I am already in the place I want to be. I feel that before this course I had viewed such a state more as coasting or being complacent, but that was when I was not sure I could accurately identify the things that would fulfill me. If you know what is going to fulfill you, then when you reach that state it is not coasting but a sense of knowing that know matter what life throws at you, you are ready for it.
Fulfillment, therefore, is not an end but a means. I see the different types of fulfillment as working together, all the time, to meet my needs and the needs of my friends, family and community. If my behavior as a professional is consistent with my personal behavior and both work towards achieving the world that I want to see, and want to live in, then I am already fulfilled. So my very definition of fulfillment has changed as the result of this course, and in that way my understanding of what it will take to achieve fulfillment has also changed. I believe now that I do have the tools to achieve fulfillment on my own terms, and that is a very powerful feeling indeed.