This week…
The Secret Of Fulfilment…

The Secret Of Fulfilment

Today is the 100th of the Tips From The Lighthouse and by a brilliant coincidence, it also gives me the chance to help out Jamie Smart with his 100th tip (below).

If you don’t already subscribe to his NLP tips, then sign up for really practical applications of NLP that we can all use AND with a particular emphasis on using NLP in a business context.

This tip is very similar to my earlier tip Who Are You Comparing Yourself To? but no apologies for going back to this theme as it really can affect your peace of mind especially if you've a massive to-do list at the moment!

Here’s Jamie…


Hi, and welcome to the 100th NLP Tip! (see previous tips) It’s amazing, isn’t it? When I sat down on January 6th 2003, and wrote the first NLP Tip, I had no idea that a couple of years later, I would have written 100 of them, and that we’d have almost 10,000 subscribers. Speaking of which, we've been hovering around the 9500 subscriber mark for a while. Could you please do me a favour, and help me break the 10,000 subscriber barrier, as well as help a friend or colleague. Please forward this tip to 3 people (if everyone on the list does it, we’ll break the 25,000 mark, but I'm not counting on everyone to do it; just the people who really value these tips. If that’s you, please send it on).

So my purpose for writing tip number 100 is to say thanks to all of you, both the new subscribers, and the few hundred people who have been with me from the very first issue.

I was listening to a coach called Dan Sullivan talking about the horizon. Sullivan explained that the horizon doesn’t really exist; that it’s just a mental construct. He made the point that, no matter how fast or how far you travel, you don’t actually reach the horizon. Wherever you are, your brain creates a new horizon ahead of you.

Sullivan used this analogy to describe the nature of people’s ideals. Our ideals are mental constructs which, by definition, are external and distant. Like the horizon, our ideals are mental constructs, and not actually aspects of reality. As such, they can be an excellent marker to help us set a direction. What our ideals are not useful for is measuring progress.

Sullivan works with highly successful entrepreneurs, and has found that they fall into two categories: those who are happy and fulfilled, and those who are stressed and dissatisfied. The main difference between these two groups is the following: the people who are happy and fulfilled measure their progress by comparing where they are against where they've come from. The people who are stressed and dissatisfied measure progress by comparing where they are against their ideals.

Just think about that for a moment.

When you bear in mind that the ideal is a mental construct that (by definition) can’t be reached, you can understand why they've been feeling unhappy and dissatisfied.

Of course, this tendency to compare where we are with an ideal is not limited to entrepreneurs. It seems that most people either use one of these strategies or the other. So do the following:

  1. Think of something you've been working towards for a while. It could be something to do with your health, your finances, your relationships, something you want to own, a skill, something you want to do. Something you've been working towards for a while. We all have hopes, dreams and desires. Goals are a great way of helping make progress towards what we want.
  2. Think of your ideal for this particular area. If you’re exploring wealth, your ideal might be financial freedom. If you’re focusing on health, your ideal may be to be a certain size, or to run a mile in a certain time. An ideal gives us a direction to aim in. This can be really valuable.
  3. Think of where you started. What was your 'level' in this area when you first decided you were going to do something about it, then…
  4. Compare where you currently are to your ideal. Get a sense of how this feels.

    You will almost certainly find that there’s a gap between where you are and your ideal. For some people, thinking about this gap is a disheartening experience. This is the habitual behaviour of unfulfilled people.

  5. Compare where you currently are to where you started. Get a sense of how this feels.

If you have made any progress at all, it will typically be enjoyable to compare where you are with where you were. This is the habitual behaviour of happy, fulfilled people, of happy high achievers.

Many people (the author included) learned to compare themselves to the ideal. But once you know how this works, you can compare yourself to where you started, & feel good about the progress you've made. The great thing is, that gives you energy and motivation to continue with your journey. The ideal is fine for setting direction, but always remember that you can’t reach it, just like the horizon. And that’s OK.

The thing that got me thinking about this in the first place was my NLP tip. I've had the goal of 25,000 subscribers for such a long time that I think it had become like the horizon. All of a sudden, I realised how far we've come since January 2003, and I felt great. As a result, I've decided to set a more achievable goal of 10,000 subscribers, and am excited about reaching it. If you can help, I’ll be very grateful, so thanks in advance!