Cat with sunnies

Loops and venns of life, happiness and fulfilment

Dear 25 year old me,

You’re currently at yet another crossroads where you’re finding yourself limited by both time and energy. There are simply not enough hours in the day and too many people relying on you to be able to do it all and keep everyone pleased along the way. The candle is beginning to burn at both ends and before something gives, it’s time to re-assess what you will prioritise.

I know what you’re thinking. Years of experience under your belt and you should have it all figured out by now. The formula should have been well and truly worked out and life would be set. I’m afraid I’ve got news for you kiddo; it’s a never-ending process and you’ll have to continuously work at it, even to this day.

I don’t mean this in a doomsday way, though. Just remember that life keeps moving along with or without you so if you don’t stop and have a breather every now and then, you’ll just be on an express train and before you know it, you’ll have reached the end of the line without getting a chance to see or experience any of the wonderful places that you passed by.

So here’s the big question;

Are you doing what makes you happy in life?

Such a loaded question that requires context and consideration, and it assumes that you know exactly what makes you happy. Perhaps the better question is, what is happiness? Some people associate “being happy” with constant smiles or literal bounds of joy, but I see happiness as more of a completeness. A wholeness that may only be achieved when one feels fulfilled.

So the question then is, “Are you fulfilled?”.

I don’t think I’ll be able to answer that question in this post, however, we can start exploring what it all means together.

So where do we begin? Most likely the best place would be to look at where your life is at currently.

Loves: What do you love doing?
Skills: What are you good at?
Actions: What are you currently doing?

Stop. It’s hammer venn diagram time!

Venn diagram sketch

As I look at this drawing, it’s clear that this list would look very different now to perhaps 10 years ago, so don’t be alarmed if our thoughts aren’t matching, 25 year old me. These things change and develop over time, as do you.

Drawing it out in this way helps me visualise where my time is being spent and where the intersections are to get that sweet, balanced medium in the middle. We can now use this as a destination to get to and to help you focus on what you give your energy to.

This may likely be a different direction to the one that you thought you were going in.

Something else that was interesting was in the process of writing out these lists, it was easy to fill out my list of loves – my passions – however, it was incredibly difficult to add in the things that I was doing and more so, what I am good at.

As I pondered on the reason behind this, I came to the realisation that it was because the things that you do day to day and the things that you’re good at are second nature to you. You do these things without giving them much thought or concentration, so you discount that they’re skills and merely things that you’re expected to know / do / be good at.

I found myself going to write things, which to me felt menial, but in actual fact are things that not everyone else can do – particularly people who aren’t in the same industry as me. I also didn’t put things down that I don’t feel that I’m awesome at, however, I really have no scale of measurement for this; only my own hard expectations on myself.
Perhaps it’s all a classic case of imposter syndrome; discounting your value and taking your own skills for granted.

With all this reflection said and done, where to from here? Have you found the path to happiness?

Well, perhaps not the complete path to it, but at least you are re-focused with the direction that you want to head. The sweet spot in that venn pointed out three things that were in the cross section of things that you were good at, things that you loved, and things that you were currently doing. You can now make the effort to ensure that any project that you embark on from this point should include one or more of these things:

  • Creativity / being creative
  • Mentoring / teaching
  • People / being social

These can be your three guiding mantras moving forward, meaning that you can channel your time and energy towards projects that allow for them. It’s time to get picky on what you pursue, kiddo, but it’s for the best. It means that no efforts will be diluted as they are all working towards a common goal and in line with the right balance of skills-passion-action for you.

The formula seems simple; let’s see how it goes:

Doing what you love = happiness
Doing what you love + practice = skill growth
Succeeding in doing what you love = completeness
Sharing this with others = validation
Helping others succeed = fulfilment

The experiment begins.

Until next time…

Patima x