The Difference Between Success and Fulfillment

How to Develop a Life of Quality, Prosperity, and Fulfillment


There are two paths we can take in reaching our goals: one path is merely going after success and the second involves creating true fulfillment. It is possible to achieve both success and fulfillment by understanding how to cultivate fulfillment as our primary driver. The most apparent difference between success and fulfillment has to do with how we feel about our overall quality of life, not just materially, but inside ourselves as well. Fulfillment helps us to experience joy and a sense of wholeness

Transformational leaders often feel as though we are working to fulfill a greater vision and mission. The sense of purpose that we have allows us to feel a deeper fulfillment than we would if we were just going after our goals to achieve “success.” There are two types of achievements we strive for. The first are those based on reaching a destination or acquiring a specific measured result. The other is an internally-based, subjective experience about our specific desires, needs, and values. Gaining fulfillment involves finding the balance between these.

By now, “Success” has become an overused and watered down word, that keeps us locked into seeking to achieve outer goals, often “imposed” by society. Fulfillment may include many attributes that success includes, although it also includes our true personal happiness and deep satisfaction, which leads to internal lasting gratification. Fulfillment relates to our achievements matching our core desires and values, especially those that in some way leave a lasting positive impact on others.

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Creating a fulfilling life is about YOU! It truly is an art to actualize a satisfying life. Both success and fulfillment require that we actively apply ourselves to accomplish something that feels great to us; these achievements will not happen of their own accord without our active participation. Success without fulfillment is a disappointment. If the goal is just to achieve success, you’ll feel you put all your effort into achieving something without having a purpose or true deeper connection to the result. Reaching success may bring a fleeting instant of gratification, but shortly thereafter will come a nagging hunger to have something more and begin the next conquest. Gaining fulfillment, on the other hand, is about you expressing your creative self from a deep place within, and doing so in such a way that serves a greater whole. This leads to an inner knowing that you have made a difference, that the world is somehow a better place because of your contribution

The Shadow of Success:

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Success is typically measured by outer gain: what kind of car we drive, how we dress, how much money or wealth we have accumulated, how popular, powerful, or influential we are, and so forth. The satisfaction that comes from reaching “success” is typically based in the ego. This is why so many leaders, business people, celebrities, and influencers end up getting burnt out or, worse, depressed. On the outside, they seem to have achieved monumental success, yet on the inside they still feel a lack of connection, joy, and fulfillment.

Striving to succeed can stem from a feeling of “not being good enough”, trying to “prove” oneself, wanting to “fit in”, or to gain approval and love. This leads to disengaging our own emotions, letting external life dictate how we feel, or it causes us to become attached to constantly having to succeed just to feel good enough or worthy. Success focuses on wanting, striving, and getting. It loses touch with having gratitude towards the journey and flow of life.

While attaining external markers of success, can be a great thing, having them as the main goal and driver ignores our deeper purpose and desires. When we feel unfulfilled, unworthy, unloved, a sense of lack or “not enough”, then the pattern tends to be to try and fill that void with “success” and “things”. In some cases such success can actually take us away from our fulfillment due to distraction and pursuing the wrong things. This is literally the opposite of fulfillment!

Fixating on succeeding can cause major stress about producing a result or from overworking. Stress is known to affect health, well being, and even lead to depression, addictions, and a life out of balance, which overall lowers the quality of life.

It is important to remember that it is completely possible to have both success and fulfillment. Although having success alone doesn’t give us the deeper experiences we are wishing to have.

Fulfillment Improves our Quality of Life:

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Fulfillment focuses on having the highest quality of life and creating value, while being present to the journey, which allows for true inner-contentment. Creating a fulfilling life requires self-awareness and knowing ourselves. Fulfillment comes when we understand how we can individually best function in the world, make a positive contribution, and create the results we desire.

Focusing on fulfillment allows for the pathways to higher levels of consciousness and inner guidance to become clear. Fulfillment focuses on creating positive impact, purpose, happiness, and wisdom. When we build a soul-satisfying value into the projects we work on we begin to feel fulfillment. Fulfillment is a completely personal experience and is relative based on your needs, thus it has nothing to do with societal or other outer expectations and measuring sticks. The only measure is your own sense of wellbeing, joy, creative expression, and somehow making a difference that really matters to you.

When we feel fulfilled it intrinsically gives us a great quality of life. We wake up with a smile on our faces and every day becomes a day that we look forward too when we’re focused on fulfillment. In order to generate fulfillment focus on how you want to feel and what actions are in alignment to produce your core desires. Also, be aware of how to align your actions, goals, and purpose with your core values.

Essentially, fulfillment takes into consideration your deepest, truest self and the way that you feel, rather than getting a high from external gratification. Fulfillment will require you to dive deep into WHO you are to genuinely know yourself and work for the greatest good of yourself and others. It will require a sense of vulnerability because you must be open and in touch with yourself.

One pitfall is that many people believe that they need to succeed to be happy, when in fact the truth is once we find fulfillment we’ll have both success and happiness. Fulfillment comes when we pursue our highest path and focus on the energy of doing what we love. It is an art that focuses on life and our being as a whole, instead of compartmentalizing specific achievements to measure success. In this way striving for success can be like an addiction, while achieving fulfillment grants a sense of freedom.

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We can achieve greater fulfillment by really looking within and knowing what our core values are, listening to and honoring what our soul really wants to do, and understanding how we truly want to feel in life. Then we must align our actions and mission with the purpose of our highest self. By becoming a Leader that focuses on “fulfillment” rather than “success” we open up the doors for true sustainable achievements that leave us feeling joy and satisfaction with our lives.

Remember to be grateful along the journey, celebrate your victories, both big and small, and give beyond yourself. True fulfillment comes when we focus on our life purpose and reason for being as a whole. Learning to achieve goals and success while focusing on your overall fulfillment will greatly increase your happiness and open up a path to creating an excellent life.


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