I had a great conversation with my friend and coaching mentor, Galadriel, this past week about a perpetual struggle I have with experiencing fulfillment in my life. In the process, I learned a fun (and I think very apt) new word: Too-full-ment. (Thanks to Galadriel for that one!)
Too-full-ment is what happens when you fill your plate, not with things that drain you or don't bring you life, but with too many things that do. You go after too many good, life-giving things at once, and the paradoxical effect of that is that your life actually becomes less fulfilling. For a dunce like me, this experience can be very confusing. After all, more is more, right? More life, more joy, more good meaningful work, more deep relationship. The more of that you can get onto your plate, the better your life is. So how come when I do that--when I fill my plate to overflowing with tons of great, meaningful, life-giving things--I end up feeling less alive. Drained. Even burdened.
My problem is this: I tend to treat life like an all-you-can-eat buffet. So many wonderful choices, so many flavors to try, so much to consume! I fill my plate to the rim and eat it quickly (because some part of me knows my stomach will soon betray me and signal "full") and go refill it again. It's all good stuff (OK, I realize most buffets are actually full of junkie foods, but for the sake of the analogy, let's assume that my buffet has nothing but the best-tasting most nutritious food imaginable), and I take it all in with passion and vigor. But when I can finally take no more, what I find at the end of that experience is not fulfillment, but suffering. I feel awful. Like a stuffed whale begging to be put out of its misery. Instead of being fulfilled, I'm over-full--a condition that's anything but life-giving.
As Galadriel said during our convo, it's not that you can't have it all, you just can't have it all at once.
Part of living a life of fulfillment involves respecting the limits of your own capacity. Too much of a good thing does not make Jack a fulfilled boy. True fulfillment means consciously choosing to say no some things that really do bring you life, in favor of balance, breathing room, and a healthy, life-giving pace.
What about you? When does fulfillment turn into "too-full-ment" for you? How do you know when you've crossed the line? And how do you get back to a truly fulfilling life?