Listen to Your Gut
As Joe sat down in Paul’s office, he said. “So, Paul, I understand the four cornerstones, have defined my top priorities, and want to have personal freedom. I’m excited to explore possible careers where I can be more fulfilled. How do we start defining my options?”
“Hold on, Joe. We have a lot more to cover before you start trying to identify your next career move. You need to open your mind to a much broader horizon. It’s great that you are beginning to gain some insights into who you really are. Now I want to help you understand the concept of your inner needs. These are centered in your gut, and you need to understand them.”
“I’m guessing you will define what you mean by inner needs, right?”
“Of course, Joe.”
“I’m ready. Let’s go!”
“Good. While everyone has unique needs that are quite personal, there are some needs that are common to all of us. As human beings, we have both emotional and rational natures, and our inner needs come from these roots.
“First, we need a sense of security, of being loved. We were created to be social beings, interacting with other people to have this need met. When this need is truly fulfilled, we will experience comfort, joy, and peace and will generally be happy. This is the way we are intended to live, so be open to people with whom you can share your life to experience fulfillment of this deep need within you.
“If this inner need is not met, people may seek other ways to find personal fulfillment. Some people immerse themselves in their careers, hobbies, possessions, or investments to find a sense of security. Others virtually check out of life and seek isolation, relying entirely on their own resources to provide some degree of personal satisfaction. I don’t believe any of these tactics can truly meet our inner need for security.
“Second, we all need a sense of purpose. Far too many people never discover a significant purpose, and that is why I took you through the foundational exercises to determine:
• Who you are today and what has made you this way
• What makes you a truly unique individual
“Such perspective should begin to help you discover a purpose that fits your individuality. Realize, however, that you must apply yourself to this purpose with deep commitment and perseverance to realize your full potential.
“The third inner need is hope for the future. Hope can be defined as having confident trust, with total expectation of fulfillment. A powerful motivator, hope will cause you to act decisively, knowing you will experience your desired results. Hope makes no allowance for doubt.
“Most people want more in their future than they have experienced in their past. Their desires may include more personal achievement, happiness, discretionary time, personal freedom, money, close friends… and the list can go on. The core issue for most people is this: what can really provide hope for a better future? Wishful daydreaming certainly can’t do it.
“Nothing can or will give you reason to hope for a better future until you change something within yourself. Remaining stuck in the same old habits won’t change anything. However, deciding to change your thoughts and actions to produce the future you want can enable you to hope that it will truly happen. Then, as you experience progress toward your goal, you will reinforce your hope and create increased energy and focus to make it happen.
“These inner needs will motivate and drive you. They are the principal components that make up your personal reservoir of fulfillment. You may also have your own, personal inner needs that will drive you. You need to become aware of them too. The more you satisfy your inner needs, the fuller your reservoir will be. The fuller you keep your reservoir, or at least the more consistently you fill it, the more overall satisfaction and peace you will find. Are you following?”
“Sure. Can I simply focus on filling one particular inner need at a time?”
“Simple answer: no. You probably will not feel complete by focusing on just one inner need. Your personal fulfillment reservoir involves all your inner needs, so it is important to maintain a healthy balance as you work to keep your reservoir filled.
“I find that a person’s inner needs are often satisfied through focused activities. You will find a list of possible inner needs activities in the following Stop, Think and Apply exercise. To help you prioritize these activities, I want you to consider this famous scenario: You have a pile of sand, a pile of small stones, and a pile of large stones. They all need to be put into a big jar. Some smart person somewhere has calculated that you can get all three into the jar. How do you do it?”
Joe almost jumped off the sofa. “I know this one! You put in the large stones, then the small stones with the sand last. I saw this demonstrated in college.”
“That’s right! Put your main focus on the activities that best support your inner needs. These are represented by the large stones. Big things always come first! This will also help your reservoir feel fuller faster. The small stones represent activities of slightly lower priority. The sand represents activities of the lowest priority.
“I want you to remember this stone/sand concept when setting priorities in other aspects of your life as well. Take some time to think hard about your inner needs. I’ve included a list of potential activities that might help you, but it is by no means exhaustive. This is just to get your wheels turning and get you thinking. It’s okay if you also need to start broadly and drill down to something more specific. And, Joe, some activities might fuel more than one inner need. Highlight these.”