Thursday, December 22, 2005

Finding Fulfillment

In Anton Chekhov's play "Uncle Vanya" - Uncle Vanya and his niece, Sonya spend their lives caring for the country estate of a professor they think is a great man.

However, during a visit to his estate it becomes apparent that the professor is really a failure and a nobody. Uncle Vanya and his niece become painfully aware that their lives have been wasted when the professor announces that he is selling the estate.

All of us want our lives to count for something. We all want a sense of accomplishment at the end of our labor. But if we are intent on finding our sense of accomplishment and fulfillment entirely in our work then - like Uncle Vanya - we are in for a huge disappointment.

Because that project we have been working so hard on - is going to be cancelled. The funding we hoped to get - will go to someone else. The boss we thought would be great to work for - will become an ogre before our very eyes. The impressive "new hire" the department just got - will turn out to be only impressive on their resume.

Work is only part of the fulfillment equation - only a piece of the overall puzzle.

Additional fulfillment can be found in volunteering, participating in a civic organization, assisting a non-profit, tutoring a student for the proficiency exams, and all sorts of other activities. Most require a only couple of hours per month - and the benefits far outweigh the time commitment.

These opportunities have a way of increasing the intrinsic value of our lives and providing a sense of fulfillment that we all need.

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