If you’ve ever set goals for yourself but found yourself unable to follow through to achieve them, there’s likely three things you haven’t tied together. In this post, we’re going to explore the first and possibly most important: finding your why. Finding your why and tying it to your actions is a fundamental step for achieving goals.
Let’s start by making this simple. Your “why” is a lot like it sounds. In order to motivate ourselves to move forward on a new or challenging action (aka a step towards our goal), we have to have a reason behind it. This is your “why”. That bigger, deeper reason we want to achieve the things we want to achieve.
As Simon Sinek, marketing guru in the consumer world, puts it- the Why is the purpose, cause or belief that drives every one of us. It is often easy to define what we do and how we do it, but not why. The “Why” does not refer to “make a profit or make a living” in this scenario but rather what are your beliefs? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Profit is simply a result, not the emotional driving factor behind an individual or a business.
For some, their why is personal. They might be looking for more freedom, a healthier lifestyle, more daily joy. For others, it might be about their community or a better world. It’s that thing that drives everything we do.
When it comes to changing our patterns, habits, and eventually our lives, we must have a powerful energy behind us. Something that pushes us to keep going when we don’t feel like it. Something to push us past our comfort zone and into something new. This is where our why comes in.
When we know our “why,” we can then tether all of our decisions and actions back to it. It keeps us motivated. It keeps us inspired. It allows us to prioritize the things that will move us towards our goals versus away from them. It gives us a quality of certainty even in the midst of change and uncertainty.
According to Simon Sinek, knowing and defining your why is the most important thing you can do. He explains this clearly with his Golden Circle theory: why is at the center, how is the second ring, and what is the outer ring. The Why is the single driving force, the inspiration, the cause behind what you do. The How is the process, the steps you take to achieve your goals and the What is what you offer- the physical product, service, etc. Without the why, we cannot begin to build the how and what.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – in other words we buy-in to the WHY – and we need to “buy-in” to our own why in order to follow through with the how & what we want to do.
If you don’t have a meaningful reason behind your goals, you will be less likely to achieve them. Doing something because I “should” is different from doing something I “want or need.” For example, getting healthy because I “should” is vastly different than “because it will massively improve the quality of my life or my relationships.” Should is connected to the outer or surface-layer thoughts and ideas, where our why needs to be connected to the inner, something that is more deeply important to you.
Get specific with your why! The more specific we are, the more likely we are to believe in our why and follow through on our actions. Getting stronger because “I think I’ll feel better” is different from “because I will be able to enjoy being active with my kids.” We need that tangible reason to keep us motivated.
Finding your why can sound like an intimidating process, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Start by asking yourself a few questions.
First, what is the change you want to make? Is there an area of your life where you are unhappy, unfulfilled or would like to see change?
Then, ask yourself why that change is important to you? Will it improve your life or overall well-being? Continue to ask yourself why that’s important again and again until you feel a deeper understanding. It is like “the 5 Whys” used in business but on a personal level. Start with the problem or change you would like to see, then ask why. Why do you want to see this change? And ask why 5 more times (could always be more or less), digging deeper and deeper into your why.
For example- I want to eat more meals at home. Why? Because I want to feel good in my body again. Why? Because I don’t feel like myself anymore. Why? Because I know I have made a lot of excuses and ignored my intuition when it came to eating unhealthy things and that’s not who I am. Why? Because I love my body and I love taking care of it.
Once you land at an answer that has an emotional tie, an emotional experience connected to it, you’ve found it!
Once you have a good understanding of your why and what’s driving you, you can now harness that power and put it behind your actions. Our actions are ultimately what help us achieve our goals, so it is vital to have energy behind them.
When you find yourself staring at the choice to take action toward your goal (or not), return to your why. Whenever you feel resistant to take that next right step, to sit down and do the work, to go to the gym- whatever that looks like for you- come back to your why. Your why, that deep inspiration, has the ultimate power to move you into action.
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June 2, 2021