We’ve all heard about this elusive “why.”
It’s the question that toddlers consistently ask their parents. Why does that work? Why does it work like that? Why?
To the point where parents start making shit up because they don’t know either.
And that’s kind of what it comes down to. The why of your business – or anything you do really – should be super refined so that when you keep asking yourself why you’ve got an answer. A proper answer that reassures you that you’re on the right track. That you’ve found alignment with what you’re doing.
Because if it doesn’t feel aligned, you’ll probably feel that resentment start to grow.
Which is where the why should come in. Why am I doing this?
Knowing why can help to calm your socks.
Oh yes. It’s because of [insert reason here]. And then it starts to feel worth it.
It sucks now, but I’m working towards this really cool thing that will be worth it in the end. (But don’t forget about celebrating the little things.)
Let’s take a little bit of a closer look at how to find your why and a few tactics to try when your why doesn’t feel big enough anymore. When alignment has kind of fizzled out and you’re stuck feeling like the last lonely piece of the puzzle stuck in that irritating corner of the box.
- How do you find your why?
- How do you make your decisions?
- Staying Centred to Your Why
- Re-evaluating Your Why When You’re Lost
- Final Thoughts
How do you find your why?
Try the toddler technique. Keep asking yourself why until it becomes really clear to you.
The trick, however, is to put aside others’ thoughts of you or the expectations that you feel heavy on your shoulders.
Think only of what you feel is important.
I know that when I journal I’m often journalling from someone else’s perspective. As if they’re looking over my shoulder at what I’m typing away at in my office. And it makes it difficult to really dig deep and listen to your intuition.
It can feel like the easy way out listening to what other people think you should do, but it usually ends in feelings of regret and resentment. The two lovely R words that we desperately try to avoid but somehow still bump into now and again.
Your why will (obviously) be unique to you, but a few questions you could think about are:
- What lights me up when I do it? Why does it light me up?
- What could I do for hours without noticing the time go by? Why?
These two questions will help you to think about what it is that you like to do that gives you a feeling of purpose. Either what you do for a living or as a hobby to keep you grounded.
The next few questions will focus a little more on your goals and help you understand why they’re important to you.
It can be tempting to say “oh I want to make loads of money and live on an island.” But why? Because others said it was a good idea? Or because it would allow you to help those around you by having money to share?
- What is that big thing I’m working towards? Why am I working towards it? (Key word: I i.e. you. Not your friends or family.)
- How do I want to feel when I reach this big thing? Why do I want to feel that way?
- How will this big thing benefit me and those around me? Why?
These questions should help you to start understanding your why and what makes it so important to you.
How do you make your decisions?
Only you can make your own decisions. Don’t get me wrong, asking for input for a new idea or concept is great, but don’t let the reponses hold you back. At the end of the day you’re the one making the decision. Not your friend or family member or mentor. They don’t need to live with the consequences. You do.
In life and in business, listen to your intuition or that little voice that says “nah” when you instinctively feel something is wrong. That’s kind of the whole trick really.
However, I guess it gets a little tricky when people tell you to “step outside of your comfort zone” and your inner voice says “hell no.” It’s good to do things that are uncomfortable but at the same time the uncomfortable things should still feel right. They should be in line with your why or purpose.
There’s no point in doing something out of your comfort zone if it doesn’t move you any closer to your why. It’s a bit of a waste of time really.
Not all decisions are as simple and straightforward as “yes this is in alignment.” Sometimes the good old pros and cons list needs to come out.
I often set up a little table that helps me work through my decision or what I’m stressing about.
One I did a while back that really helped to find some perspective was this one:
|What I like doing||What I don’t like doing||What does this mean?|
|What could you do all day?||What do you dread?||How do these work together?|
|E.g. write newsletters||E.g. going live||Instead of going live on Instagram,|
write an engaging weekly newsletter.
Staying Centred to Your Why
Journaling. Yes I am predictable. But it really helps. The tables I’ve shared above are actually taken from my own journal. They’ve helped me make decisions and get clearer on things.
The answers do change over time as you learn new things about what you like or don’t like.
It helps to have it clear and in front of you at all (or most) times. Maybe it’s a vision board or a one page document with everything you need to remember on it.
I find I’m very much an “out of sight out of mind” kind of person and having things physically in front of me makes a big difference.
For example, my content strategy is one simple A4 page to keep me on track with my why – in terms of business and content goals. If you want to grab my template, you can do so by grabbing it right here.
Being reminded about your why consistently means that you’ll be able to stay clear and true on that path.
Another thing that helps is to map out your weekly goals that help you get closer to realising your why. I recently discovered Notion and it’s made my goldfish brain very happy.
In one place I can have all of my many thoughts and to do lists. It sits as a pinned tab in my Google Chrome browser and I can refer to it whenever I want. I have yet to get it on my phone or use the Chrome extension but it’s been great to have all the things in one place as opposed to my many Trello boards and Google docs saved all over the place.
All of these little organisational practices can help you stick to your why and make more intuition-driven decisions that will be in your best interests.
If you’re more of a visual person, try printing out a vision board and stick that where you can see it every day. That’ll help to keep you centred to your why AND inspired to keep going.
Because why would you feel motivated to move forward if it’s not in the direction you want?
Re-evaluating Your Why When You’re Lost
Getting lost does happen. Maybe it’s in a few months or next week. Maybe it’s tomorrow.
If you’re feeling lost, it can help to either A) relook at your why and centre yourself, or B) recreate your why.
Option B is okay. We’re constantly changing and your why or purpose might too.
I have done this often. In fact, my why will probably still change as I go along. Nothing is set in stone. Except bird prints in wet cement. That shit’s forever.
When I’m feeling lost I go back to my journal and write things out. Those prompts I shared above? Really helpful with finding my way back again – or finding my way to somewhere new.
However, there are times where journaling isn’t enough.
If you’ve tried journal prompts and still feel lost, there might be something more you need to learn first before you can press on.
The best way to figure that out?
Simply sitting somewhere with no screens, no journal, no stimulation – just you.
Your brain knows the answer, but we’re not always good at listening to it with so many distractions all around us.
If you take the time to just sit and be present, you’ll more than likely come to the answer. Or at least get a little clearer on which path to take.
Often this leads to needing to learn new skills. Maybe that’s why it’s difficult to figure out what we need to do because we’re lacking something.
Perhaps you’ve discovered that you want to explore a different avenue of your business but you need a particular skill first.
Hop onto YouTube and get learning. The further down the rabbit hole you go, the closer you’ll get to learning something new that will help you find your purpose again.
Do yourself a favour and check out this video. Not only does your mind go still but you’re more than likely learning something new too.
A few key things I think will be helpful to remember:
- Your why or purpose helps to add meaning to your work.
- Continue to check in with yourself either through journaling, being bored, or learning something new.
- Stay centred and set goals.
- Your why may change – and that’s okay.
Something that helps me is to set 3 small goals a week. I write them down on a piece of paper and use it as my bookmark in my diary for the week. That way everyday I see what I’m working towards and can write down the next best step to get there.
And if you don’t reach your goals? Take a break. You probably need it.
Always keep creating!
Concepts to Content Digital Magazine July 2022 Edition Editor’s Note