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Finding Fulfillment

An excerpt from Rules Of Engagement, Finding Friendship, Faith, and Strength in a Disconnected World
by Chad Hennings

When's the last time you browsed the self-help section at your local bookstore? It's a far cry from a solitary row or two--there are endless shelves of books by people who guarantee they've got all the answers. Whether you're struggling through relationship issues, low self-esteem, money crises, or addiction, these books promise to fix your pain. According to a recent survey, the "self-improvement" market in 2008 net well over $11 billion in the U.S. alone. Why have we as a culture become so obsessed with "fixing" ourselves?

The answer is easy: because people are searching for meaning. the self-help industry is thriving because, in their quest for fulfillment, the masses will search anywhere, even if the solution is temporary--a spiritual Band-Aid. But the reason these self-help organizations cannot help you find fulfillment is that they internalize the process. They preach that by thinking positively and meditating on your success, fulfillment will come to you.

I'm here to tell you that it just isn't so. success is not an endgame. Success is a by-product of defining who you are as an individual and finding the meaning in your live. And that meaning is either doing a deed or work, or doing something for someone else. It's not found within you.

Some contemporary self-help systems have their foundations--whether they know it or not--in the Bible. Work, goal-setting, teamwork--all are Biblical principles. I believe many people of Christian faith have lost track of this truth and have turned to these organizations who can translate only a small fraction of the truth of the Bible. Their version is a diluted truth that becomes how you define yourself as an individual. You're led to believe that your mind can influence your existential surroundings, that through positive thoughts you can manipulate your destiny. That's as far from the truth as you can get.

Finding fulfillment equals developing meaningful, rewarding commitments. A person must ask him or herself, "What exactly am I committed to?" The answer could be the relationship with your spouse, friends, family, community, or God. In my case, my purpose is to help others find their purpose.

We live in what has been called a "microwave society," where we feel entitled to instantaneous gratification. Our greatest ethos seems to be, "Let nothing interfere with my pursuit of pleasure." I see this today with college students who, immediately upon graduation, expect the lifestyle their parents built over forty years. I see it in football, with a second-round draft choice who believes that his $1.2 million signing bonus entitles him to starting position and the respect that his seasoned team members have had to earn. Fulfillment doesn't come in an instant. You can't cook it up in a microwave, but that's what society is telling our kids--and us, too.

I'm saying something very different. Fulfillment is, quite simply, commitment to a meaningful goal: your life's purpose.

If the goal you choose is indeed meaningful, it won't change drastically over time. Your purpose will stay pretty much the same from the moment you set your sights on the target. Understanding this can help you move past the microwave mentality and realize that true goals aren't those you reach in six months, but rather the ones that you're still working on a lifetime from now. When you seek instant gratification, you're more likely to compromise your integrity by cutting corners to achieve your goal in the time; you see as reasonable, not what is truly plausible. But if you have a strong foundation as to who you are as an individual, you'll be less likely to make such compromises, because you'll have a better understanding of how they'll affect the rest of your life.

In this chapter, we'll discuss how fulfillment comes from the pursuit of worthy goals. Finding fulfillment is all about the process; it has nothing to do with the fleeting feelings of satisfaction we all experience from time to time. True fulfillment is much deeper and far more profound. first of all, it requires understanding the unique "Why" of your life.

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