So what is my WHY? This is a question people are asking themselves more and more. In a world that is often confusing, knowing your WHY is a great way to give your life and career focus and purpose.
So what is it that inspires you to get out of bed everyday? Yes, we all know why we need to get up and go to work because we have to pay for bills, school fees, holidays, insurance, the costs of running a car, new shoes for your child…the list goes on. There always seems to be a never-ending stream of demands which force us to keep treading water. But is this really your WHY? Is that what drives you?
Our true WHY is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires us to do something. When we know our WHY then our actions have more resolve and motivation.
When you dig deep inside, what is it that inspires you? What makes you want to jump out of bed every morning? Think beyond the basic reasons and focus on your priorities in life. What drives you? What compels you? What is your true goal? Once you understand this, life becomes clearer and it is easier to reach that goal.
Recently I attended a course and they asked us the same question “What is your WHY?” and we had to explain. Initially, most gave vanilla answers of “paying for a nice holiday”; “finding confidence after time off work”; and “hate my boss and don’t want to work for him anymore”. We were then told it was not our true WHY and to dig deeper. At this people re-evaluated, with some participants becoming very emotional. One even broke down in tears as they shared their intimate story behind their real WHY. Reasons included a woman who had tragically lost her partner and was desperate to provide a safe and stable home for her son; a man living in a different country from his wife and child and determined to be with them again but still be able to provide for them; another wanted to leave her current work and fulfil a lifelong passion she had suppressed for years; and another who’s troubling childhood experiences had made her change her life. It was inspirational to hear such honesty of deeply personal matters.
Your WHY is your own individual motive and no one else’s. Something that is unique to you because it comes from a place deep inside and from the experiences that have framed you. Identify your most meaningful professional and personal experiences. Recognise patterns within them and even discuss these with friends, if it helps. When you do this you will start to see what the things that drive you. When you understand this, you can draft your WHY statement. Think about what you want to achieve and what you need to do to reach that goal. This provides a filter for you to make decisions, every day, to act with purpose.
You begin to make your WHY the focus of all you do. Before you action anything, ask yourself if it will get you closer or further away from your WHY? A very simplistic example is if you are trying to lose 20kgs and are faced with a plate of your favourite cookies – will eating them help you reach your goal of losing that weight or steer you further away? Use this analogy for your WHY and shift your thinking for all your decisions.
I recently watched a Michael Jr. You tube video. He is a US comedian who was describing the concept and how it helped him succeed. He asked a member of the audience, who was a school music teacher, to sing a few lines of his favourite song. He sang ‘Amazing Grace’ well and the audience clapped. He was then asked to sing it again like “his uncle had just got out of jail and you were shot in the back as a kid.” The difference in the way he sang was astonishing. His voice resounded throughout the audience and it was almost spiritual. He was singing from a place of WHY and it had so much more meaning and impact.
Remember, when you think, act and communicate starting with your WHY, you can alter your whole outlook and what you do in life. This in itself can not only transform you but also inspire others.