Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been obsessed with finding work that gave me a sense of fulfillment. And as a result, I had a very busy childhood. I opened a bank out of my bedroom, a pillow factory out of the basement, and a potpourri business out of the backyard. What I didn’t try out, I imagined.
Fast forward to adulthood: I received a Masters in Business Administration and, as a 20-something, moved to San Francisco, where I lived through the economic downturn technology bust at the beginning of the 2000-2010 decade. I tried on and tried out a number of different jobs and possible careers. Each one taught me something about myself and got me a little closer to figuring out fulfillment. Increasingly interested in the role work plays in peoples’ lives, I completed a Masters in Social Work at Columbia University, where I focused my studies on workplace issues.
I’ve eagerly listened with fascination to anybody who wanted to tell me about the joys and sorrows of their work and the path they’ve traveled to find what they love. I’ve learned from their experiences, and I like to think I’ve helped others along the way.
I was raised in the South and the Midwest. As an adult, I have lived in San Francisco, New York City, and Washington, DC, where I now live with my husband, three cats, and a few roaming fur balls.
Email me at Meg@FiguringOutFulfillment.com
Unlike Margaret, I was unaware during my childhood, and a large chunk of my adulthood, that there was any necessary connection between “work” and “fulfillment”. I came from a working-class family in which my mom didn’t work and my dad, who did, didn’t obtain any detectable fulfillment from it. It seemed perfectly reasonable to me, as I moved into the real world after graduating from college, to think of work as only a means to generate the resources you need to live and hopefully to do the things that actually would bring fulfillment.
The dichotomy was liberating in some ways, because I felt free to take jobs that offered potentially interesting experiences – even if not particularly inspiring or even suited to me – as long as the bills got paid. (Well, most of the time, at least.) I worked as a librarian, a paralegal, an English teacher in Japan, a marketing consultant, and an administrative assistant, before deciding that being a lawyer offered the best combination of intellectual stimulation and potential remuneration. That was probably true, actually.
Eventually, though, time and luck led me to accept, first, that I would never be truly fulfilled unless I was doing fulfilling work, and second, that fulfillment matters. It makes us better people – happier, kinder, more creative, more energetic, more generous, more productive. It’s not selfish. It’s like getting a really great haircut: you feel good for having it, but it’s the people around you who actually get the pleasure of perceiving it.
Now that I’ve made that connection between work and fulfillment, it’s become a source of infinite fascination for me. And I’ve learned that helping other people to make or explore that connection is, to me, fulfilling work.
Email me at Bill@FiguringOutFulfillment.com