Frustration vs. Fulfillment

By definition, fulfillment is “the achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted.” Under that definition, it always feels as if “fulfillment” is within our reach, but far too often just beyond our grasp.


This concept can be extremely frustrating for anyone, but for an athlete, the looming nature of the proverbial dangling carrot compounds this feeling of frustration. So, we are then presented with the question, if we can’t win every time, how can we still succeed?


The answer lies in the balance between dealing with frustration and seeking fulfillment. More specifically, the answer comes within a paradigm shift of how we see failure and how we see success.


We are conditioned to believe that success is the only road to fulfillment. If we don’t achieve the results that are deemed “successful,” we begin to feel less-than. We can combat this only by removing the desire to succeed, or going after success for the right reasons.


If we sat down to talk, and I asked you why you want to be successful, I would venture to say your answer would be dependent on external factors. You might set out to impress someone, to show someone that you can do it, or maybe to prove someone wrong. These are all external validations.


The problem with external validations is that you are allowing your worth to be dependent on someone else’s opinion and that is out of your control (a topic for a whole other article). Even if you do receive this confirmation, you will find yourself equally, if not more, unsatisfied.


The solution then lies in internalizing your definition of success. It is about chasing success, whatever that may be, for the right reasons. This means setting out to accomplish something because it GENUINELY brings YOU joy. When you pursue your goals with this internal motivation, you will find that, even if you don’t fully reach them, you will sense a greater deal of fulfillment. This is because you will know you have done everything you could to reach your goals, and you did it for you.


As athletes, we are bombarded by external forces: What do our coaches think? Our teammates? Our friends and our family? We often fail to take the time to ask ourselves what we think. What do we think of what we have done?


Once we begin to ask and answer that question, we find that we will be increasingly more fulfilled, and those crippling factors of frustration will be nothing more than sweeteners for our success.

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