A problem that I experienced during my 20s was that I was on a constant search for fun and stimulation and I believed that it would deliver me satisfaction. The search for that feeling of happiness and fulfilment was misguided – I looked for it in the things that I could buy and it was a life lived with short-term gains, quick fixes, night-clubs and other superficial things that I thought would improve other people’s perception of me.
And if there was one thing that I lacked, it was patience. I always wanted more and I wanted it in the shortest possible time.
From these experiences, I’ve learned that happiness doesn’t come from objects and that there is a big difference between me having short-term fun, and experiencing consistent levels of genuine satisfaction and fulfilment.
Don’t get me wrong, life without fun would suck. But searching for activities that bring short-term fun, due to the stimulation it gives to my mind, yet still leave me feeling shit about myself afterwards no longer make sense to me – and I no longer have time for them.
I remember the need I felt to go out every weekend chasing fun – in fact, I felt the need so much I did it multiple times each week. But every single time, I could have asked myself the next day, “Did I have fun? Was it worth it?” and the answer would be “No.” Feeling like shit for 2-3 days afterwards was definitely not worth it – for either my body and my mind.
The same can be said for those times that I used to reward myself for a long day at work, or for going to the gym, by eating chocolate or ice-cream. Within 5 minutes of finishing it I would have a gut ache and ask myself, “why the fuck did you do that?”
I built a career that was motivated by the title I believed would earn me respect, an income that would give me freedom, buying properties to prove a point and driving a fast sports car to create an image. When I obtained all of these things, all it left me with was the feeling of wanting more. There’s no satisfaction in always looking for something else.
Today, a much deeper sense of satisfaction and fulfillment come from focusing my time and energy towards purposeful activities. In my mind, the greatest activity worth improving is the relationship I have with myself, and that’s about how I treat myself through my health.
Fulfilment is finding a balance or a sweet spot across many different areas – career, health, relationships, energy, finances, spirituality. Putting all of my eggs in the one basket – career – just meant that I neglected everything else in the meantime.
It’s important to understand that fulfilment isn’t to be confused with feeling content – it’s more so a sense that everything is on track and heading in the direction that I want it to be heading. It gives me certainty and confidence.
It was when I found balance across these areas that I started to experience a real sense of fulfilment. I haven’t reached my final destination by any stretch and I’m honest enough to admit that there are still days that feel like a battle, but it’s important that I know what I need to do to regain balance.
Being healthy has been the key driver to what has influenced all of these areas. In my eyes, it’s taken me three years of prioritizing and improving my health and the way I treat myself to undo the 10 years I spent doing the complete opposite.
This has taught me the importance of being patient. Too often, I see click bait headlines promising fixes in 8, 10 or 12 weeks or fitness professionals focusing on 3-week holiday transformation programs. Do the authors not understand that, similar to my previous self, the damage could have been done over a 5 or 10-year period and the changes and habits required to see long-term change cannot be achieved in such a short period of time? The promise of short-term fixes is only setting the reader up for greater failure and potentially lowering self-belief and confidence even more.
The way I train, eat, sleep, supplement, recover, relax, wind down at the end of the day – and the way I ease my way into each day – all contribute to giving me the power to take control of my life and to perform.
What decisions can you make today that your future self will thank you for? Little steps can lead you on a huge journey…