The road to fulfilment is incredibly alluring. Yet it is paved with obstacles, failures, sufferings and all manner of challenges. So it’s no surprise that many people decide – consciously or not – to avoid that path. To them, the problems, hassles and heartache are just not worth it.

Some people make an effort to travel the road. But at some point along the way, they deviate off the route.

Usually it’s because the road seems taxing. And sometimes it’s because they get hoodwinked by some shiny, seemingly attractive things en route, or by beguiling but deceptive alternative paths that appear at key junctions on the road – at times, those alternatives include the expectations of others.

A few “lucky” people commit themselves to the journey. Their will to win pushes them on. Their grit gives them stamina. And they make each successive step on the road with dedication, despite the aches and pains they feel and the difficulties and disappointments they endure.

Of course, they’re still human, like you and me. So from time to time, they may hit the floor, slump to depression, be overwhelmed by so many things not going to plan, … they may even be moved to tears and feel like giving up on the journey.

But they don’t.

Because something somewhere deep inside of them remains determined. It’s the silent voice that insists, “I must fight for my dreams, because I refuse to take them to my grave with me.”

A silent voice?

It speaks up in the midst of melancholy and doubt to lift them up out of the blues.

It speaks up at many other times too along the journey, loudly or quietly.

For example, at certain times when Pride says, “It’s impossible,” or Experience declares, “It’s risky,” or Logic utters, “It’s pointless,” or Emotion wails, “It’s too hard, I’m fed up and exhausted,” the silent voice whispers soothingly and encouragingly: “Give it a try.”

And because these lucky people keep trying, they start to learn some remarkable things as they travel down the road.

It’s as if the road itself starts imparting its wisdom to them – perhaps it’s some form of payback for their resolve. Or maybe the emergent learning is an inherent part of travelling the road.

They learn, for instance, that growth often feels like suffering, and that life sometimes gives us what we need for fulfilment rather than what we think we want – those obstacles, disappointments and challenges are great examples.

We only grow when we stretch beyond what we can do already; that’s what challenges often entail – stretching yourself and learning something new. It’s one of the ways we discover and reveal our true capabilities and the best of ourselves. And in many senses, that perhaps is the greatest reward the road to fulfilment bestows: you find out who you really are, and what you truly value (and it’s quite possible that, consequently, you may refine your definition of “success”).

You may be one of those lucky few already assimilating the wisdom bestowed by the road to fulfilment.

Are you?

Trust the road

If you are one of them, you may already have learned that the road is protected by a Council of Testers. And you may have met some of the council members on your journey: old-timers like Fear, Worry, Self-doubt, Fatigue, Impatience, Frustration, Close-mindedness, Stress, and your Script.

They disguise themselves as adversaries, but really they are on your side – they’re some of the channels the road uses to impart its wisdom.

The road’s wisdom can be as startling as it is multifarious.

It’s often irrational too. And you may occasionally find yourself trying to apply logic or analyse and overthink things when you should really just trust; trust the process of travelling the road and roll with the groove.

You’ll discover that the road itself is rooting for you. It wants you to travel its full length, be marvelled by its astonishing terrain and uncover the magnificent gifts it has for you.

It will prove its support and encouragement to you in many ways.

For example, it’ll show you that you don’t have to do it all, life itself will do some of it for you; because life wants you to win. The road will teach you that sometimes you can achieve things effortlessly, a kind of doing by not-doing, what the Chinese call wu wei, and others describe as being “in the zone”.

Tapping this flow state helps you manage your efforts and energy better. As will learning to pace yourself. And getting adequate rest and sleep.

Choose yourself

Perhaps while you sleep, the road will visit you in your slumber to show you that your fulfilment yearns for you just as you yearn for it. Every time you take a step towards it, it responds by taking two steps towards you; because it is captivated by the unlimited potential within you.

Life will always give you more opportunities to discover and harness that potential. Be confident in yourself and seize them, just as life is confident in you.

That confidence should be substantiated by your decision to choose yourself and your resolve to align yourself to your dreams – especially through your everyday actions.

What might this mean?

Well, for example, many people fantasize about their dream job or career without ever taking real, tangible actions to realise their dream. Some read loads of books or watch countless webinars, videos and TED talks without really taking action either. Others engage coaches or mentors, subscribe to numerous podcasts or attend various seminars, workshops and training courses but still never really get going. And some go as far as planning but don’t actually act on their plan.

Choosing yourself means betting on yourself. And aligning yourself means taking real, purposeful actions to win that bet, i.e., actually doing something, taking concrete steps, physically laying down the stones or bricks to build your career castle – that is real, tangible action.

Books, videos, courses or coaches may be useful, but in themselves will not construct your castle.

Don’t dilly-dally

For instance, looking back now, I can see that when I was dreaming of having a corporate career rather than mopping floors and cleaning toilets for a living, as well as attending a university course to get the requisite qualification, I also had to sit my butt down and physically pen many application letters to sell myself to the companies I wanted to work for.

Similarly, when I aspired to become an independent consultant, as well as finding out how from various sources and drawing up my game plan, at some point I also had to pick up the phone and start speaking to prospective clients I thought I could help with my expertise, and keep at it while tweaking my approach until I secured my first assignment.

And when I first started dreaming of my writing career, as well as learning how to become a successful writer from books, seminars and a writing coach, I physically had to open my laptop every day to actually write; because a writer writes – 500 words, 1,000 words, 2,000 or whatever, consistently; words that appear on screen or on paper as the building blocks of the writer’s career castle, words which you’re now hopefully benefiting from as you read them here, and you would never have gained the benefit if I didn’t pragmatically take action and truly get started as a writer.

So don’t dilly-dally; consistently take intentional actions to achieve your dreams – which interestingly is also what the road to fulfilment wants for you.

Copyright © Sigi Osagie 2024. All rights reserved. Features adapted excerpts from Career Dreams to Career Success by Sigi Osagie © EPG Solutions Limited 2023. Image by Valentin (Valiphotos) via Pixabay