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Are You Fulfilled?

What were you born to do? What lights you up from the inside and turns you into a human sparkler? Perhaps you find fulfillment in talents and skills. Maybe it has to do with how you apply those gifts. Do you go to work each day with delight and end your shift with satisfaction for a job well done? 

Fulfilled – noun.
the act or state of fulfilling: to witness the fulfillment of a dream; to achieve fulfillment of one’s hopes.
the state or quality of being fulfilled; completion; realization: a vague plan that had no hope of fulfillment.

When I was a child, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. At 61, I still don’t have a clue. I am a professional hyphenate with a resume three pages long and growing: therapist-social worker-journalist-author-minister-editor-speaker-teacher. When I consider fulfillment, I ask myself what it is that I “can’t NOT do.” Each of those items on that list fit into that category.

My parents used to tell me that I could do whatever I wanted professionally, as long as I could support myself and I liked my job. They never steered me in a particular direction. My father was a blue-collar worker and earned income as a milkman and then a bus driver. My mother was a pink-collar worker, employed as a switchboard operator once we were old enough to be latchkey kids. Before that, since the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, she also had multiple, overlapping part time jobs. Both made a living in those fields for their entire work life. I was the first in our family to have advanced education, about which they were proud. It was a feather in my cap, and I knew I was to be a life-long learner. As a licensed social worker, I am required to earn 30 continuing education credits every two years. Each of those things was a component of fulfillment.

Among my circles, I have friends who are artists, authors, performers, designers, film producers and directors, jewelry makers, landscapers, band leaders, musicians, coaches, entrepreneurs, CEOs, therapists, engineers, healers, medical professionals, school teachers, builders, mechanics, librarians, yoga instructors, managers, clergy, IT professionals, chefs, fitness trainers, accountants, truck drivers, organizers, home and office cleaners, baristas and flight attendants. If asked, all would say that they find what they do gratifying. Some have multiple sources of income. What each of these people have in common is the desire to serve. That’s the kind of crowd I hang with, apparently. Although supporting themselves is essential, so too is making a difference in the world.

For some, it has more to do with their interpersonal relationships where they find contentment, when surrounded by family and friends. Being a parent is the paramount pleasure. My mom (although, as mentioned earlier, worked outside the home) used to say that being a mother and wife was the height of satisfaction for her. At the end of the summer, when my sister and I would go back to school, she cried because she said she would miss us. How many parents admit that? The Yiddish word for overflowing with pride is “kvell.” That my parents did when my sister and I accomplished something. I feel the same way as a parent and grandparent. I revel in my son’s accomplishments and love observing his interactions with his wife and newborn son. Sometimes I can sigh and say, “Good job, mama,” when there was a time when I had to divide my time between work and raising him as a single parent when my husband died.

Partner relationships create an environment in which fulfillment can grow. There is, however, a difference between interdependence in which each person can rely on the other and have a shared purpose and co-dependence where there is enmeshment and enabling. What comes to mind is the classic line from the movie Jerry Maguire, “You complete me.” While it can be delightful to share a life with a compatible partner none of us are incomplete people, bereft without someone on the other side of the bed or across the kitchen table.

What is important to you?

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  • Money
  • Health
  • Love
  • Family
  • Spirituality
  • Success
  • Fame
  • Achievement 
  • Possessions
  • Power
  • Career
  • Service
  • Respect
  • Peace of mind
  • Emotional stability
  • Approval

What we value shapes our level of fulfillment. If you could rate the list above on a 1-10 scale, 1 being dissatisfied and 10 being exquisitely satisfied, where would you land? Can you think of any thing you can do to up level and enhance your level of fulfillment? Perhaps some of those things don’t matter at all and that really is okay.

How about the person in the mirror? Does your sense of fulfillment have more to do with how you feel about him/her/them or how others perceive you? 

Are self-actualization and self-fulfillment the same thing? Abraham Maslow theorized that we have the ability to reach our highest potential and become self-actualized. It doesn’t mean that everything turns out as we desire for it to, but how we invest our time and energy. How intentionally do we live? Are experiences random or do we choose most of what occurs? 

If you could set up a life in which you are living your passion and purpose how would that feel? What if you aren’t sure what you were meant to do? Does it mean falling into patterns and habits just because you are expected to follow in familial footsteps? A suggestion is to ask yourself what you wonder about, what you would like to learn more about and let that guide you to self-fulfillment.

“Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Are You Fulfilled?

Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW

Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW is a journalist and interviewer, licensed social worker, interfaith minister, radio host and best-selling author.

APA Reference
Weinstein, E. (2020). Are You Fulfilled?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 10 Apr 2020 (Originally: 12 Apr 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 10 Apr 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.