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Life is a cycle. It has a beginning and an end and a wide variety of things that happen in between. For the most part, people travel a path with key shifts that happen fairly universally. Each time there is a shift, we come to a crossroads where choices can be made and with those choices, their associated outcomes.

For a typical person, those keys shifts may look like:

  • Childhood
  • Early adulthood
  • Middle age
  • Elderhood
  • End of lifetime

Childhood: Much of what happens in childhood is not under our control. The parents we have, the economic status, the geography of where we live. Many things are beyond our control. Regardless, there are choices that we make that increase or decrease our fulfillment. Some of life’s biggest decision-making patterns evolve from this developmental time, affecting or infecting our future decisions.

Early adulthood: This is generally the time we have more control over the direction our life takes and by the result, the amount of fulfillment we have. Going to university, getting married, moving, joining the military, pursuing a passion. These options are very open in young adulthood. Depending on our mindset, we may or may not make the decision that creates the most fulfillment. Making a poor choice can lead to feeling unfulfilled and the associated feelings that come with it. Feeling unfulfilled? If you are in your early adulthood, it might be easier to shift and find more fulfilling options. Be courageous and willing to do what feels best for yourself before you take on too many responsibilities and reduce your ability to easily make changes.

Middle Age: Middle age is often a difficult time in the beginning. So many things may be fixed. From raising children to paying a mortgage, it can be harder to make choices that are personally satisfying. Nonetheless, it’s important to do what you can to challenge and inspire yourself in fulfilling ways. As an empty nester, it gets easier to consider reinvention and enjoy increased fulfillment. Feeling unfulfilled? If you are middle-aged and are enjoying an empty nest and wrapping up your career, it may be time to consider a radical change. Start to dream again and consider what makes your heart soar. Take action towards those dreams and watch your fulfillment increase.

Elderhood: Elderhood isn’t what it used to be. 70 is the new 50 in many ways. Elderhood offers the benefits of better health and mobility with the added bonus of fewer responsibilities. Elderhood is a wonderful time to pour your wisdom and resources into a new generation. Using the skills you’ve cultivated to plug into a cause or activity you enjoy personally is a great way to feel fulfilled day-to-day. Feeling unfulfilled? Consider becoming a mentor. Sharing your years of experience with a group or organization can be a powerful way to create a legacy that thrives thanks to you.

End of Lifetime: As things slow down, life’s focus narrows and many begin to feel their mortality and sense the importance of what matters most to them. This is an excellent time to make sure things aren’t left unfinished. From having important conversations to cleaning up emotional messes, it’s a great time to get right with ourselves and those we impact. Ensuring we leave a legacy and imparting the traditions and knowledge that matter most. Feeling unfulfilled? There’s no better time to do and see the things that you’ve always wanted. Take that trip. Have that conversation. Enjoy that experience. Time won’t wait! There are key shifts that happen in every life. With each comes new opportunities to use it or lose it regarding our fulfillment.

Wherever you are in the cycle, do your best to be the most fulfilled you can.