How Underfulfilled Overachievers Can Find Career Satisfaction

Megan Hellerer is the founder of Coaching for Underfulfilled Overachievers and the author of the forthcoming book, Directional Living: The Underfulfilled Overachiever’s Path to Fulfillment in Work and Life (2022). Through her proprietary Directional Living Method, Megan leads people through transforming their careers by shifting from a blind ambition to an aligned ambition. She has been featured in publications such as New York Magazine and The Times of London and has contributed to CNBC, The Wall Street Journal, Refinery29, Well & Good and Business Insider. Here, she shares how following your curiosity and pursuing joy will put you on the path of directional living.

What are the essential questions to ask yourself when it comes to career fulfillment?

The first question is: If you came across a career fulfillment genie who could grant you one wish, what would that wish be? My second question is: if this was the most productive, inspiring, inspirational, life-changing, transformative article you’d ever read, and you walked away feeling like everything was exactly as it should be, how would you know? How would you know if everything was perfect in your life in your career? What would that look like on the outside? What would feel different? What would look different? My final question is: how would it feel if you were perfectly fulfilled, whatever that means to you? How do you imagine that would feel? How would you know that you are fulfilled emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually?

What does it mean to be an underfulfilled overachiever?

If you resonate with the term underfulfilled overachiever, at least to some extent, you’re either feeling completely stuck and lost and miserable, as was the case for me. Or you feel like there might be something more, and you want to step even more fully into what would be the most impactful, aligned, fulfilled career that you could have.

A lot of us are in transition right now. So if you’re here and asking these questions at this time, I often say the breakdown is also the breakthrough. If you’re here asking these questions, you’re seeing something compelling and transformative at this moment. If that’s you, I want to acknowledge you and give you props for being here and asking the questions that not everyone asks.

What is directional living, and how does it differ from being goal-oriented?

We need a paradigm shift in how we think about doing and finding our work in the world. I offer that we need to shift from the 20th-century career paradigm, which I call destination living or goal-oriented to what I propose as the 21st-century paradigm or directional living.

To understand what the shift is, I want to first look at what it is not. It is not thinking of careers as linear 10-year ladder-climbing plans. In those types of plans, you make your goalposts of success, and then you reverse engineer it. The problem with that is, it supposes the world and us as individuals and the future are fixed and knowable. And it’s neither of those things.