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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Fulfilled!: Book Review


Have you ever wondered why, as North Americans, we have such high rates of stress-related illnesses, anxiety and depression, despite being among the wealthiest nations in the world?

The reality is, though we may have food to eat, clothes on our backs, shelter and a peaceful society, privileges many folks around the world do not have, a lot of us feel extremely unfulfilled.

What about you, are you fulfilled? If not, do you know why? Maybe its because you were pushed into a career by your parents that you never wanted.  Or maybe you married someone who doesn't make you happy because you were together a long time and everyone expected you to.  Or perhaps you decided to pursue a career to make a lot of money because you thought material wealth is the key to happiness, and yet you realize you were wrong.  All of us end up in places we didn't expect, and often aren't ideal for us, but what can you do about it? Often we feel stuck and assume there is no way out, unfortunately, this often leads to greater discontent.

Recently, I was sent Fulfilled! a book by William A. Schiemann, PhD., CEO of the Metrus Group, a U.S. based consulting agency.

The intent of the book is to be a guide for those feeling unfulfilled with their life - not just in the area of work, but in personal relationships, physical health, etc., too.

The book provides case studies of everyday individuals, like you and I, as well as various celebrities and public figures, to show how it is possible to feel satisfied with your life, in all spheres, regardless of your age, and where you are right now.

According to Schiemann, there are 3 critical ingredients necessary for fulfillment (ACE):

Aligned - alignment with your interests, aptitudes and values;

Capable - having the capabilities to be successful; and

Engaged - being engaged/energized by what you do.

Now, this stuff isn't really new to me. As a sociology undergrad, I learned a lot about this in my sociology of work and organizations courses.  It was an area that always interested me.  What makes us enjoy certain activities? What determines if we feel fulfilled by what we do?

Ironically, after an MA in sociology, I, accidently found myself in a career I hated.  Fortunately, I eventually switched paths and now I love my work, and am very grateful for that!

So, how do you tell how much alignment, capability and engagement you have? Don't worry, the book provides all sorts of quizzes and exercises to help you determine this!

I did some of them, even though I know I love my work, but they aren't all applicable for someone self-employed.  Most of them kind of assume you are employed by someone else.

Though the book isn't that long (219 pages), it packs in a lot of information and useful tools.  It doesn't just help you determine if you are fulfilled or not, but it basically provides a blueprint for achieving fulfillment if you aren't yet there.  Like anything else you want to achieve, having a plan and setting specific goals are critical.  Having a way to measure your progress is essential.

The final chapter provides some basic tenets of living a fulfilling life, which include:

1. Keep the end in mind
2. Nurture your body
3. Build a social network
4. Seek things you are passionate about
5. Take reasonable risks
6. Never stop learning
7. Stick to your values and spirituality
8. Resilience - find the silver lining
9. Give and get
10. Check in with yourself regularly

So do I recommend this book? Absolutely! Its well written and Schiemann clearly knows his stuff.  In fact, I am going to give it to a friend of mine who is currently trying to find a new direction for her career.

Disclosure: I was sent this book to review but all opinions on this blog are my own.