Finding Your Why
I heard a phrase twice recently, from two different sources, which prompted me to write this article – “The two most important days in your life are the day you’re born and the day you find out why”, so many people don’t get to the second point.
Life is just a series of decisions we have to make; what clothes shall I put on today? Where shall I go this weekend? What will I eat for dinner? What task do I start first? Some decisions are easier than others and don’t require much thought, like those above. Some are more complex and need us to think some more before jumping in; which house shall I buy? Which car is right for me? Shall I move to another country? Is it the right time to start a family? What is my next career or job move?
The more complex decisions are often ruled by your inner compass, your raison d’etre, Your Why. Knowing why you have a compelling goal makes decision making much easier but not knowing why you are doing something can cause inner turmoil, stress and sometimes even panic. A clear sense of purpose helps you to really focus on what matters most, on what’s important. It enables you to filter out unhelpful noise, the inner voice which says “don’t do this” and it often pushes you to take risks in order to chase your goal.
There’s no silver bullet to discover your why, sometimes it just comes to you when you least expect it, sometimes it can be borne out of a life-changing experience, good or painful. The key is to grab it when it happens to you, recognise it as your why and then spend time thinking about how to create a compelling goal out of it.
Being self-aware is a good place to start
This said, knowing yourself and being self-aware is a great place to start. Your true why, your purpose in life sits somewhere between your skills, experience, talent, strengths, passions and personal values. In essence, what you’re looking for is the spot sitting in between what you contribute, what you’re passionate about and what will be valued by others the most.
Questions to ask yourself
Here are some questions to get you thinking about your personal why:
- What are your real strengths?
According to Gallup, a strength is a talent you have practised and recognised. What are you good at? What comes naturally to you and puts you in your happy place?
- What adds the most value to others?
Doing something you’re good at but that people don’t appreciate will never motivate you. What do you do which really adds value to people? Gets them talking?
- What are you passionate about?
Passion is something you can’t learn, it’s either there or not. Some work you will enjoy, even love but it won’t ignite a fire in your belly, it won’t make you leap out of bed in a morning smiling. What makes your eyes light up?
- What is important to you in life?
This is often the hardest question to answer but once you have this, the why tends to flow as this is often at the core. Is it being at the top of your career? Is it being able to be in the playground for school pick up? Is it being able to create more space to train for that ironman competition? Is it about time to care for family members?
I found another great quote by Bishop T D Jakes which just sums this up for me: “If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.”
And it’s as simple as that… Isn’t it?