Do you know WHY?

A common theme from the workshops that I presented at a local University in the last couple of weeks was around, WHY? 

I believe your WHY is the cornerstone to what we do but often gets missed, left last or not even considered. For no reason other than not understanding what your WHY can actually do for your goals, achievement and direction. 

We are pretty good at looking at what we do and how to get there but get stuck on the WHY. I find it is generally something people need to sit with and ponder and revisit before they find something that feels right and true for them.

In the workshops I presented, I referred to the Ted Talk by Simon Sinek - How Great Leaders Inspire Action. His message is crystal clear and resonates with so many people. In his talk he discusses a powerful model to inspire leaders starting with the question WHY. 

German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche once said, ‘He who has a why can endure any how.’ 

In traditional goal setting, you set the goal based on WHAT you want to achieve (not WHY). In these scenarios, it is easy to get distracted, move the goal posts and lose motivation. 

When you build goals based on your WHY (as the first step) it becomes easy to focus on the how, next. When you build goals on your WHY, your purpose becomes clear and you create the goals with more meaning and passion, as appose to superficial goals.* 

When I work with my clients, this is one of the first questions I ask. The response across the board has been, ‘no, what do you mean?’. We then work through their WHY. This has helped clients in standing true to themselves and their values, saying no when it feels wrong and being clear on WHY they are here in the first place, this turned into motivation, when she was feeling stuck. 


How do I get clear on my WHY? Here are some tips: 

  1. Focus on the feeling and remove the practical (the how). 

There are two ways you can use this tool.

1. When you look at your goals, career direction or which avenue you want to take, tune in to how it will feel. Does it feel right in your body? Does it feel fun and exciting, in your body? If you remove what it is, for example, the job title, the salary package, the company, your peers or parents opinions, does it still feel right for you? This will help guide you in the right direction for you, right now, which will lead you on your path that feels good and a career with purpose. Tapping into what feels right will help in getting clear on goals by determining the right direction. 

And 2. Use visualization as a tool. Tap into how you want to feel when you are doing your job / going in that particular direction. You can simply close your eyes and imagine yourself doing your ideal job, what does that feel like? Take note of those feelings. Or you can use these journal prompts to help you set the scene and map out your ideal job.

Grab yourself a cuppa and find yourself some quiet space before you get started. 

WHY Post Quote OW.jpg

I am at my happiest when I ….

My ideal day looks like …. and it feels ….

If I had all the time and money in the world, I would spend my time doing …

If I could share one message with the world, what would it be …

What advice would I give myself …

Reflect back to two years ago, how have I evolved?

In 12 months time, how will I expand and grow further? What does this feel like?

What lights me up? When was the last time I felt that way? What was I doing?

2. Play to your strengths. 

Knowing what you are good at, what comes naturally to you and what lights that spark will assist you in your career direction and understanding your WHY. When you know your strengths, it is a lot easier to understand what does not come as naturally to you, this is simply a contrast and a really good way to filter what does not feel right. Most of the time, it is by trail and error to sensor where your strengths and areas for development lay. This is all part of the career journey process which involves learning through failure and challenge, this is where the growth happens. 

To help you get a feel for your strengths try this simple exercise. Keep a journal of your day to day tasks and make comment on the ones that felt good, challenging and fun. This is everything big and small from making a grumpy customer smile, cleaning out your inbox, or developing an engaging campaign that blew everyone’s expectations out of the water. Write it all down and make sure you take note on how it made you feel. Once you have done a few days in a row. Take a look, do you have a common theme, does anything stand out to you, do you feel clearer on what you don’t enjoy doing, do you need to explore any areas more? 

3. Challenge your WHY.

Now you have a good understanding on how you want to feel within your career and are self-aware on your knowing your strengths and what lights you up. Have a go at writing your WHY. One sentence statement. 

Some things to remember; 

a, It is never financial, that is the result. 

b, It does not have to be unique or something that no one else has thought of - this is your WHY, this is what lights you up. It is ok if someone else is in that space (we need more than one passionate and enthusiastic teacher in the world)

c, It will not be static, it will develop, grow, change, expand as you do. This will be ever changing.

d, You can have more than one. You can have a WHY for your family, home life, traveling goals, and your career. And you can have more than one within those areas - for example, when I am working on different projects within my business, I set a WHY for each. I do this as my anchor point, as something I come back to if I feel the motivation drop or I feel I am going off task or on a tangent. And as that anchor point, if I need to redevelop it or add to it, I can.

Write yourself a statement. 

Now, ask yourself WHY? Go deeper. Ask yourself WHY again, dig even deeper (this is hard, it is not an easy task) and continue to ask yourself WHY 5 - 7 times. 

That will become your WHY... that emanates passion and purpose. Write it out and pin it up. 

Ill give you an example:

  1. I want to raise awareness for people with learning difficulties. WHY?

  2. I feel that people have a miss-conception about learning difficulties? WHY?

  3. There is not enough knowledge and information that is easy digestible? WHY?

  4. I feel people are embarrassed to talk about learning difficulties. WHY?

  5. I feel that no one is paying the way for people with learning difficulties = my WHY. 

I will now bring it all together using the 5 WHY exercise, what feels good to me and my strengths ... 

I want to pave the way for people with learning difficulties (the WHY which feels good and right) though education, talking about it and sharing my story (my strengths). 

**this is my WHY to an aspect of my business**

Next step is to develop your goals based on your WHY and start to plan out HOW. Would you like to know more about this process? 

How does that feel? 


*Reference: Forbes article ‘Do You Know Your "Why?" 4 Questions To Find Your Purpose’

Claire CuryerComment