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Do You Have an Unfulfilled Life? 7 Reasons Why You’re Not Satisfied

Do You Have an Unfulfilled Life? 7 Reasons Why You’re Not Satisfied

Do you wake up and hit the snooze button? Well, that’s rather normal, so don’t worry.

But if you lack the motivation to get up every morning—even after you’re all showered up and up on your feet—then it’s probably a sign. A sign that you live an unfulfilled life and that you’re not satisfied.

Most people feel confused at some point in their life, but if you feel unsatisfied and unhappy about your life on a daily basis, then it’s time to do something about it.

Maybe you feel like you’re meant for something bigger, maybe you just want to do something different with your life, or maybe you have no idea what you want, or why you feel unsatisfied.

This article will take you through 7 reasons why you might not be satisfied with your life and it will help you take a step towards a fulfilled and happy life.

1. You Don’t Realize You’re Wasting Time

It’s easy to say you’ll do something. Another thing is to actually do it. We have all tried to put off something for the next day and we’ve said: “I’ll do it tomorrow.” But if you do this often, then it could turn into a habit.

If you feel like you’re meant for something bigger, but you’re not moving forwards at all, then it’s time to take a look at your day and your time management. You might not even realize that you’re wasting your time.

Sometimes, people tell themselves it’s enough to get out of the door in the morning and sit at the office until they clock out.

Unfortunately, it’s not enough if you waste your time during the day. Some of the most common time stealers are Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. In other words, take a look at how much time you spend on social media every day. You’ll probably be able to tell if you have a problem.

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Or maybe you plan on working on your personal projects at night or during the weekend (probably both if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur), but you end up on Netflix or only have fun with your friends and family.

If you re-examine your life, you’ll find out what you do right and wrong, and how you can make a better daily and weekly plan for yourself.

It’s not about neglecting people or only being able to do one thing. It’s about understanding yourself and your habits better.

2. You’ve Lost Touch with Yourself

People do different things to feel good about themselves. For some, it means going to the gym and working out.

A study made by Ceren Doğan from the Department of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London shows a connection between going to the gym and people feeling good about themselves in more than one way:[1]

“Overall, it is argued that for many participants gym exercise is more than physical training; it is also training for life. Based on a thematic analysis of 32 semi-structured interviews it is argued that gym workout is a means to create better versions of the self on mainly three levels.

First, gym participants perceive themselves to be efficient and productive in general. Second, gym training is believed to increase the control they have over their lives. Third, gym members associate their gym workout with amplified emotional resilience, believing that fitness workout makes them not only fitter in a physical sense but also fitter and better equipped in a psychological sense. “

In this case, the gym is simply an example. The point is that we all have something we do that makes us feel good and if we neglect it, then we can lose touch with ourselves and how we feel.

If you suddenly stop doing whatever you do to feel good, or it falls down on your list of priorities, then it might sneak up on you later.

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3. You Put Too Much Pressure on Yourself

While it’s good to create a plan and be ambitious, it can also backfire if you put too much pressure on yourself.

A clear goal helps you move forward in the right direction. But if you put too much pressure on yourself to achieve it, you’ll slowly feel the drive disappear day by day.

Or maybe you have taken on too much weight on your shoulder at work and at home at the same time.

If you need to focus on an important project at work, talk to your family and let them know that you need to focus on that for the next few months, but make it clear that it won’t be forever.

If it’s the other way around, then don’t take on more than you can at work. Every work situation is different, but if it’s possible for you to not take an extra shift, work late all the time, or place yourself on a difficult project, then do it, and focus on your family for a while.

4. You Don’t Finish Things

Many people have ideas. Some of them are great. Some of them are not. But it’s often not about the idea itself. If you set out to do something, but don’t finish it, then it doesn’t come without a cost.

In your mind, it might just be the idea that never goes any further. In reality, it can be about so much more than you not finishing a project.

Humans are creatures of habit. If you decide to do something and then don’t manage to finish it a couple of times—it slowly turns into a habit — a bad habit. Once you start to feel like you can’t do anything, then you’ll feel unfulfilled.

The good news is, we’re able to break habits and create new ones. Take back control and finish your projects (big or small).

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5. You Don’t Have Social Life

Human beings are social animals, we all need some sort of social life to feel happy and fulfilled.

Even if you prefer your own company in most situations, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need some sort of social life.

Maybe you’re lonely without even knowing it, but you’ve told yourself that you don’t need a partner in life because you’ve been on your own for so many years.

Or maybe you’ve never really had any good friends, so you’ve given up on meeting new people and socialising.

Either way, it’s never too late to change it. It’s true that you don’t necessary need both a partner and a good friend, but you do need someone.

No one is meant to live a completely isolated life. Put yourself out there or reach out to someone you lost touch with.

6. You Lack Purpose

It’s easy to wake up every morning and go to work. Well, maybe not completely easy, but we can all do it. The same way we can go out and smile, but on the inside we might not feel like smiling.

If you lack purpose, then it’s probably not something that will sneak up on you over night. It’s going to take some time for you to realize that this is why you’ve been feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied.

It’s going to take some time for you to realize it because you can easily live a good life on the outside and still lack purpose. You can have a good job and a great family.

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This might make you feel bad about feeling unsatisfied, but you shouldn’t. Purpose is about you and it’s okay to want something that you maybe forgot about along the way.

You can always change direction and find it.

7. You Feel Distant

A lot of people can be present without really being present. If you’ve been feeling distant from your own life, then you get the idea. You can go to work, events and meet friends while your mind is not really there at all.

It can come from something deeper like a lack of purpose, but it might also be as simple as remembering why you do the stuff you do on a daily basis.

Peter H. Diamandis uses a self-talk technique when he feels out of funk:[2]

“It’s going back to ‘Why do I believe this is important?‘ It’s, ‘Look how far I’ve taken it so far.'”

Use this self-talk to ask yourself the same questions about your life in general. Look at your job, your habits, and your social life etc. Take a good look at your life overall and ask yourself these questions.

This might be a wake-up call or help you find what you once saw and lost sight of.

In the end, an unfulfilled life comes down to asking yourself some tough questions and react to what you find out. Find out why you’re not satisfied with and change it.

Featured photo credit: Mark Alexandrovich via unsplash.com

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Maria Jensen

Specializes in personal and professional development.

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

Positive and Negative Reinforcement: Which Is More Effective?

Positive and Negative Reinforcement: Which Is More Effective?

It has been said that rarely am I short of words, and yet I’ve rewritten this article on positive and negative reinforcement five times. Why?

It’s not as if I have a lack of thoughts on this subject. It’s not as if I don’t spend my days enabling people to communicate powerfully and get what they want in life. So why the rewrites?

I’ve found myself thinking about the diversity of people I’ve coached and how different we all can be. Usually when I write for Lifehack, I’m able to see instant commonality in the subject that means I could share some ideas that would resonate wherever you are in life, whoever you are, regardless of what you were looking to achieve or what adversity you may be facing.

However, with this, it’s a “How long’s a piece of string?” answer, i.e. I could probably write a whole book’s worth of words and still have ideas to share.

Let’s look at some key points:

  • You will have times in your life where you need to get someone to do something.
  • You will have times when someone needs you to do something.

Let’s look at how positive and negative reinforcement would work. In both of these situations, you can face some big obstacles:

  • Someone may resist your desire for them to change.
  • Someone may challenge your authority or leadership.
  • Someone may be at risk of getting hurt.

The important thing to remember is that, in life, we all have to be influenced and influence those around us, and some ways will help us get the result we want, and others won’t. However, that may differ on where you are, who you are talking to, and what you want to see happen!

So, how do we know when positive reinforcement is effective[1], and can there ever be a time when negative reinforcement is good?

Worryingly, if you get positive and negative reinforcement wrong, you can risk your career, your business, your relationships, your reputation, and your brand.

Positive and negative reinforcement each have their merits, so it’s imperative to know when to employ them. Interestingly, despite a ton of evidence to the contrary, we still rely on the wrongs ones in society, business, and even in parenting.

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The 4 examples below showcase the use of positive and negative reinforcement, and whether they personally apply to you right now or not, they will resonate and be very useful to you personally in every area of your life.

For each we will look at:

  1. What’s the problem?
  2. What have you tried?
  3. Now what?
  4. The results!

The Boss

Okay, you may not be a boss, but everyone will have times in their life where they need to get people organized and working together to get the best result. Often, leaders say things like this to me:

  • “I’ve told them until I’m blue in the face not to do that!”
  • “They constantly refuse to use the new system.”
  • “They just don’t listen.”
  • “They don’t respect me.”

What Did the Boss Try?

Often, I hear “We’ve tried everything!” No matter who is reading this, trust me, you’ve not tried everything. (That’s the first thing to accept.) When you accept that, you then need to look at what you have tried to move forward.

The boss has tried:

  • Giving the person training.
  • Spending time with them and showing them how to do it.
  • Telling them it wasn’t good enough.
  • Telling them we aren’t doing that any more.

Now What?

The above situations create tension between the two as you constantly battle to maintain your position on the situation. If you are looking to get someone to do something, and they constantly resist, you need to stop and ask yourself some questions:

  1. What have we tried? This helps you to understand what they are good at, so you can utilize that in the conversation.
  2. From their viewpoint, what could prevent them from doing what I’ve asked? What could they fear, and how will we allay those fears?
  3. What do they want? Seeing their viewpoint enables you to use their terminology and language so they feel listened to.
  4. What do they believe? Do their beliefs prevent them from seeing the benefits? Beliefs can be changed but not by force—coaching is very powerful for this.
  5. How do these answers differ from my beliefs and views? Bridging the gap helps you to see both views and communicate more powerfully.

In my experience, rarely does a boss or leader need to say the word “No.” If someone is not doing what you want them to, the quickest way to see results is to ask questions and listen. Often, when you really listen, you discover a big gap between what you think you are saying and what the other person is hearing.

The reasons why someone is not doing what you want can include:

  • They don’t know how to do what you’ve asked them to do.
  • They are scared to get it wrong.
  • They fear what people will think of them.
  • They don’t have the confidence to come and tell you they need help.
  • They are scared that someone will tell them off.
  • They don’t understand where the boundaries are.

People tell me, “But I said that to them!” If you are too close to the situation, then how likely are they to take notice from you? Here’s what you can do:

  • Get out of your usual environment – Neutral environments make difficult conversations easier. They can take you both off your guard, which can be good.
  • Start by making that person feel safe to say anything. Start with ground rules like “This is a confidential conversation” and “I won’t make any judgement on what you say, I just want to understand.”
  • Be prepared to say “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t realize.” When you do this, positive and negative reinforcement can be used.

Learning how to coach people instead of tell people is key. Enabling the other person to see the benefits of what you want for them (and not you) is quicker than trying to dictate action.

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  • Lay out expected outcomes.
  • Create boundaries.
  • Explain what support and help you will provide.

The Results

This style of reinforcement is about utilizing both positive and negative reinforcement. It enables someone to feel safe to explain why they’ve not been taking action and helps them to overcome the limitations they feel while safe in the knowledge that they will get the support to change with the positive results explained in a way that matters to them.

The Young Child

If you’ve ever found yourself on the wrong end of a relentless tantrum of a small child, you will know it can feel impossible to get through to them. While many elements of The Boss scenario could work, there are times where you may need some negative reinforcement.

What’s the Problem?

My children are now 15 and 18. I can honestly say that, while we have had some challenging behaviors, our parenting means I have two children I’m very proud of–great communicators, great work ethic, kind, funny, considerate. The point is that, for my children, this stuff works. And, to be honest, when I’m with other people’s children, they often say “How did you get them to do that!”

Young children are amazing. It’s like they’ve just woken up in a new body and have been told to go touch, feel, experience everything–every emotion, every taste, smell, experience, texture, the lot! They are curious and keen to know more. They sap up everything, and a lot of that we don’t want them sapping up!

When they go to put a pencil in an electric socket, or let go of your hand as you cross the road, it’s imperative they get the learning and knowledge they need fast. I once was talking to a parent that said I was wrong to say no to my children. I asked, “At what age would you like me to introduce them to that word?” to which they had no answer.

While I agree that there are usually a lot more words than just no for children, “no” is a word that kept you and I safe when we were small.

What Have You Tried?

While young children are incredibly intelligent, explaining the merits of your preferred course of action is not going to keep them safe. Tying them to your waist isn’t working. Punishing them and telling them there’s no more park time until you walk next to me doesn’t work either. So how do you say no and keep them safe?

Now What?

Sometimes negative reinforcement is essential[2]. For instance, my son (who adored Bob the Builder when he was little) was playing with his plastic tool kit and discovered an electric socket…I didn’t stop to explain the merits of how that could be dangerous. I said calmly, “No, that’s dangerous!”

Here’s the important point: It’s not just about your words. With young children, it’s important that your body language clearly says the same.

The Results

I did feel like the luckiest parent on the planet to have two children sleeping through the night, but that didn’t tell the full story. I can remember spending a few weeks calmly picking my daughter up with no eye contact, no overly big hug, no conversation, just saying, “Sorry darling but now’s bedtime, so back we go.” And yes, being the strong-willed girl that she is, there was sometimes a good hour of that until she got the message that Mum really isn’t going to play, turn into a dinosaur, sing, or read a story.

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The thing with positive and negative reinforcement is that you need to have faith it will work, and you are doing the right thing.

Of course, when I went in to get her from her cot the next morning, I had a big grin on my face that said, “Wow, what a grown up girl you are staying in your bed all night!” I used positive reinforcement to get the day started.

The Teenager

What’s the Problem?

If I’m honest, I don’t have problems with my teenagers. However, I think that is in no small part to my style of communication. Having respect for them is key, and appreciating how much change is happening in their lives really helps–as someone who helps large teams of people deal with change, I know how hard it can be.

However, when I wrote the article How to Enjoy Parenting Teens and Help Your Kids Thrive, I was inundated with stories of hellish behavior from other parent’s teenagers, tales of staying out all night and not phoning home, abusive behavior towards parents and teens–I really felt for all involved.

What Have You Tried?

The problem with teens is they know exactly how to wind you up like a little clock-work toy. And if you’ve had a tough day, the last thing you want is to have to deal with someone who can’t even communicate with words, let alone put their dishes in the dishwasher.

Losing it is never the option, but it can easily happen. Shouting, bribery, and doing it yourself because it’s just easier really don’t work in the long run.

Now What?

If you consider everything we’ve covered, you can see that you need to communicate using positive and negative reinforcement. In life, there are consequences to all actions, and teens have a ton of stuff to learn to become effective, successful, happy adults.

Before you embark on any course of action, consider how the other person perceives the world. What are they going through?

You may have loved being a teen, but that doesn’t ensure your children will. Likewise, in life, there are things you love that others will loathe–seeing the world through other people’s eyes really helps you to understand the best way to communicate.

The only big difference for teenagers is to use emotion with caution. I personally let my children see all emotions–I’ve not hidden my tears when I’ve lost a loved one as it’s a perfectly normal thing to do. However, if a teenager in a foul mood can spot a weakness, they may just take advantage of it.

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The Results

My kids love to tell everyone I’m a scary mom. I’m not, I just have high standards, and I’m not prepared to drop them.

We shy away from telling people what we expect and then wonder why we are getting as stressed as the other party because no one knows where they stand.

I’m happy for my children to take over the TV room and eat far too much sweet stuff and binge on a box set. Just don’t put cups on the carpet, we have places for drinks. It’s having the confidence to say this is the rule.

People think negative reinforcement is a bad thing. However, how can someone change if they don’t know what they are doing wrong? And that’s the issue: so many of us are fearful of saying “Stop doing that!” If you lack confidence, find your voice because people aren’t mind-readers.

Final Thoughts

Before you start considering whether positive or negative reinforcement is best for others, ask yourself what you respond better to.

Personally, I respond far better to negative reinforcement–I can improve and be more successful and happier if I know what I’m doing wrong. Furthermore, I know that sometimes negative reinforcement works better with some clients who really don’t want to look at the issue–but it’s always done with respect and love.

Coaching people is also a great representation of when positive and negative reinforcement is best. We are looking to find ways to increase the positive action with positive reinforcement and ways to reduce the negative results with negative reinforcement–and usually my clients keep those changes for the rest of their lives.

More on Positive and Negative Reinforcement

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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