Want To Lead a Fulfilling Life? Then Get Your Story Straight

This five-part framework will help you figure out the who, what, why, how, and fuel you need for leading an increasingly fulfilling life.

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Imagine you’re at a cocktail party and someone you’ve never met before sidles up and asks you, What’s your story?

How would you respond?

Probably with something boring and vague like this:

“Umm… I’m Chris. I live in Vancouver with my wife and son. I have a blog and I like nachos, traveling, and sports.”

Sounds ok, but not extremely fulfilling. This is better:

“I’m Chris. I’m a husband and dad who runs a business called The Zag that brings together people from all over the world to push ourselves to pump up our lives into our potential in exciting ways. I also like nachos.”

Not perfect, but an improvement, right? I’ll keep working on it.

Here’s why:

The more confidently, clearly, and concisely you can explain your story, the easier it will be for you to live a more fulfilling life.

It’s difficult to do, but not that complicated because while no two life stories are the same, they all follow the same framework:

Fulfillment Framework

Once upon a time there was you. You wanted to enjoy a fulfilling life but obstacles made it difficult, so you had to develop your abilities to overcome them and make it happen.

Here’s a quick start guide finding your way to a more fulfilling life by filling in the details.

Part 1: Who Are You?

Once upon a time there was you. You wanted to enjoy a fulfilling life but obstacles made it difficult, so you had to develop your abilities to overcome them and make it happen.

Like Luke Skywalker, James Bond, Katniss Everdeen, and Dumbo the elephant you’re deeply flawed and don’t know what you’re truly capable of.

A fulfilling life is the story of you figuring yourself out.

Part 2: What Do You Want?

Once upon a time there was you. You wanted to enjoy a fulfilling life but obstacles made it difficult, so you had to develop your abilities to overcome them and make it happen.

What does “a fulfilling life” even mean?

Many lifetimes’ worth of brainpower has been spilled contemplating the answer.

One thing’s for sure: If you don’t have a solid personal definition of “fulfilling,” you’re going to come up empty in your pursuit of it.

So let’s help you picture fulfillment.

This is you today:

Circle depicting your status quo, aka comfort zone.

And this is your life’s theoretical potential.

Diagram of your comfort zone and your theoretical potential that you can expand it into.

The “fulfillment” you, I, and everyone wants is a matter of steadily expanding into as much of that potential as possible.

And what substrate do you fill your life full of?

Not hot air.

Anti-regrets.

Anti-regret (noun): The opposite of regret. A completed action that has a lasting benefit on one’s life.

Anti-regrets include:

  • Relationships forged
  • Skills and knowledge acquired
  • Problems eliminated
  • Contributions made
  • Memories accumulated.

Finding ways (ideally enjoyable ones) to steadily accumulate these anti-regrets is the path to a fulfilling life.

Or, for those who aren’t as big of fans of Venn diagrams as I am, here’s another way of understanding fulfillment:

A fulfilling life is deciding for yourself how you want to measure success in your game life, then finding pleasurable ways score as many points as you can before your time runs out.

Part 3: Why Aren’t You Getting It?

Once upon a time there was you. You wanted to enjoy a fulfilling life but obstacles made it difficult, so you had to develop your abilities to overcome them and make it happen.

If filling up your potential were easy it wouldn’t be fulfilling.

Luckily, it’s impossible to be easy, no matter how gifted you are genetically (and you’re not). That’s because of the evil and invincible two-headed monster: Complacency and delusion.

Person facing obstacle in life.
If you’re not scared of this monster, it’s because delusion’s got you bad.
  • Complacency pushes us to toward the path of least resistance. It’s warm bear hug feels cozy in the present, but leads to sever discomfort and fragility.
  • Delusion tricks us into following unfulfilling paths, even if we manage to hold off complacency. It blurs our sense of direction, biases our thoughts, and distorts our perception of reality.

Additional obstacles like unfortunate health conditions, economic downturns, and shallow gene pools make fighting this two-headed monster extra difficult, but they’re out of your control. Fighting them is yelling at clouds. All you can do is suck it up, not use them as excuses, and battle complacency and delusion as best you can.

Part 4: How Can You Do It Better?

Once upon a time there was you. You wanted to enjoy a fulfilling life but obstacles made it difficult, so you had to develop your abilities to overcome them and make it happen.

You’ll do more damage in your fight against complacency and delusion and make it further into your potential if you continually hone your strategies and skills:

  • Reapply best practices. You don’t have to learn everything the hard way.
  • Be systematic. Goals give us directions to shoot for, but systems are what drive us.
  • Figure out what you’re made of. You can’t do anything you put your mind to, so proactively seek out feedback and carefully filter it to improve your self-awareness.
  • Develop well-rounded excellence. Your life’s only as strong as its weakest link, so proactively push yourself to make steady progress in all areas: relationships, career, finances, physical health, and mental health.
  • Get help. Seek mentors and coaches and team up with others.

Part 5: Do You Really Want It?

Once upon a time there was you. You wanted to enjoy a fulfilling life but obstacles made it difficult, so you had to develop your abilities to overcome them and make it happen.

Achieving fulfillment is like building strength at the gym. Your potential may have a theoretical upper bound, but you won’t get anywhere close to getting there. All you can do is find ways to enjoy pumping up your lives in ways that are helpful, not harmful, to others.

Some people don’t feel it’s worth the effort. They coast along complaining about the boring stories they let fate write for them while watching others’ more exciting stories on their screens.

I rather not. And a big part of the story I’ve chosen for myself is helping others make their stories more fulfilling. That’s why I write on this site and in my newsletter and why I created The Pump.

The Pump is a virtual gym for our comfort zones where we push ourselves to get better at challenging complacency and delusion in order to fill our lives with as many anti-regrets as possible. If you’ve been paying attention, the gibberish in that sentence should make some sense to you.

Go Fulfill Yourself

You don’t have to join The Pump to live a more fulfilling life. But you better get your story together.

One last time, here’s the framework for doing so:

Once upon a time there was you. You wanted to enjoy a fulfilling life but obstacles made it difficult, so you had to develop your abilities to overcome them and make it happen.

About the author

👋 I'm Chris. Everything you read on TheZag.com is my fault. This site is like a gym for your comfort zone, full of challenges to make your status quo sexier. Join my 'Consider This' newsletter for a fun new challenge every 10 days. Try it!

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