Fast-forward to the last day of your life. Assuming you're given a moment or two for reflection, are you satisfied with the choices you've made? It's a matter of fulfillment, which only you can control. That's according to Dr. William Schiemann, who interviewed more than 100 "successful" people--some fulfilled and some not--in the process of writing Fulfilled! Critical Choices: Work, Home, Life, which will be released October 1. Here's what he learned about the things the most fulfilled people do every day.
1. Have strong values--and stick with them.
Do the people you surround yourself with support the ideals that are most important to you? Or do they influence you to behave inconsistently with what you believe in? Don't let it be the latter--operating in opposition to your values is soul-crushing.
2. Practice resilience.
There's no denying adversity is part of the human existence, whether it's divorce, failure, disease, or the death of loved ones. Be the kind of person who has grit and can bounce back when bad things happen. The most resilient people share some common traits, including having a strong, supportive network of family, friends, and mentors. They also tend to overcome setbacks by digging deep into their long-term vision or spirituality. "It's how you get up that makes the difference," Schiemann says.
3. Take risks.
They will stretch you and can lead to achieving things that wouldn't have happened had you failed to try something new. "This is one of the most difficult lessons in the art of fulfillment, but you can help yourself by have a longer-term vision, with many intermediate lighthouse goals along the way--stepping stones--that allow you to see the big picture," Schiemann says. "Imminent risks are often much less threatening when viewing the big picture."
4. Build and maintain your network.
Yes, it takes time to connect with people in person and online, but doing so could mean the difference between success or failure when it comes to scoring your next great job, finding a life partner, or getting into the right school. "If you are not building your network continuously, you are falling behind," he says.
5. Give back.
Many of the interviewees talked about the importance of investing time and support in others. Schiemann himself volunteers for a program which helps inner city youth get ahead in life by teaching them stage skills. "I first heard the back story of so many of the disadvantaged kids--crack houses, abusive parents, abandoned, homeless--and then I saw these kids performing with huge smiles on their faces," he says. "One child...said that he was excited about his future--his chances. And with a tear in my eye, I realized that one of our greatest sources of fulfillment is enabling others to become fulfilled."