A big part of my work as a financial advisor involves figuring out new and different ways to get people to save more money because the majority of Americans are not saving enough for retirement. At first, I thought this problem was caused by procrastination (“I’ll save more tomorrow.”) But I’ve come to realize that, for many Americans, at the end of the month, there’s no money left to save. We’re too busy over-consuming, accumulating debt, buying homes that are too big, and cars that are too expensive. There’s nothing left over for savings.
I think a lot of the problem stems from a lack of contentment. For too many Americans, our work leaves us unfulfilled. Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” tells us that 70% of American workers are not engaged at work. So I decided to study fulfillment in order to see what speakers and experts have to say about the concept. I went to YouTube (which I find to be a limitless source of valuable and less than valuable information) and typed fulfillment into the search bar. Over half of the search results were about Amazon.com’s warehouses “fulfilling” orders. That is, taking our online orders that we as consumers make from our phones, tablets or computers and delivering that stuff to our homes, often on the same day.
The irony was almost too much to bear.
The fulfillment I’m talking about is a feeling when we do something good for someone else. Many of the most fulfilling experiences of my life have come from charitable work, community service, or times when I’ve done work for others and expected nothing in return.
It’s time to get back to the original definition of fulfillment. It’s time to focus more on enriching our own lives and the lives of those around us.