You’ve heard it before: Find your “why.”
Maybe you’ve even thought about it, written it down, said it out loud. It’s not a novel idea, and I’m definitely not the first person to blog about it. But a good friend of mine mentioned something profound the other day: Many people don’t know what their “why” is–or even how to find it.
I’m here to change that. I’m here to help you discover your “why,” and in turn, change your life.
Why Why? The Biology
We all have skills and passions that we pursue on a daily basis in hopes of either making a living or creating a life (preferably both). However, a lot of us think about our decisions backward.
We frame our choices like this: I do ___ by ___ because ___.
For instance: I make money through marketing because I’m good at it.
Which seems like totally logical thinking, right? Wrong. Hear me out.
A few quick facts:
- People don’t buy what you do–they buy why you do it. Don’t believe me? If this wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t need clever advertising and marketing–we’d simply need products.
- Living your life without a “why” will swiftly lead to regret and resentment, because “what” and “how” are surface level–“why” makes you dig deep and fulfill the innate human need for purpose.
- Biologically, we’re programmed to listen and act on “why” not on “what.”
You don’t have to be a biology major to know that there are many parts of the brain. We’re going to talk about two of them: Our neocortex and our limbic system.
Your neocortex (neo=new) is the youngest part of your brain. It’s in charge of language, abstract though, imagination, and consciousness. Your neocortex corresponds directly to your “what.”
Your limbic system is older, and it’s responsible for human emotions like trust, loyalty, and fear, along with judgement calls, and unconscious behavior. In other words, it’s your “gut.” And it’s directly related to your “why.”
What have we been taught from day 1? LISTEN TO YOUR GUT.
If you want other people to buy into your mission–you have to speak to their limbic system. And the only way to do that is by leading with “why.”
Same goes for internal validation and fulfillment. If you’re simply worried about the “what” and the “how”, you’ll never feel aligned and full. You need to speak your “why” first.
Moving forward, think about decisions like this: Why –> How –> What
Finding Your Why
That’s all fine and dandy, but it doesn’t help you find your “why.” It might help to think about it a little differently. Reframe “why” as your:
- Reasons for waking up
And answer these 5 questions:
- What makes you come alive?
- How can you add the most value?
- What innate talents and skills do you have?
- How will you measure your life and decide if it’s successful?
- When do you feel the most joy and peace?
Once answered, these questions get you a lot closer to discovering your “why.” How? Because where your energy goes when you’re at your best, is where your heart feels most aligned.
In other words: If you find a recurring answer to each of these questions, that probably implies your “why” is closely related.
For instance, I feel most alive when writing or creating. That’s also where I feel I can add the most value. Not to mention it’s an innate skill and what brings me joy and peace.
Take a few moments to really think through these questions and come up with your own answers.
“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out you’re passion. For your passion will lead you right to your purpose.” — Bishop T.D. Jakes
Forming Your “Why Statement”
You’re almost there! (I told you it wouldn’t be that hard!)
Next, we’re going to work on forming your “why statement,” which is just a fancy way of saying: Let’s put your “why” into words.
A good format is: To ___ so that ___.
For example, Simon Sinek, the guy who made the famous TED Talk about “Start With Why” frames his “why” like this: “To inspire people to do the things that inspire them so that, together, we can change our world.”
His why: to change the world.
And he’s going to do it by inspiring inspired people. Heck yeah.
Yours might sound totally different. It could be:
To educate and elevate underprivileged children so that they can feel empowered and make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.
To amplify brand messaging in a way that’s powerful, engaging, and relatable so that businesses are able to connect and engage with clients on a more intentional and purposeful level.
To inspire people to live a healthy, achievable lifestyle so that they can live long, prosperous lives.
Write as many statements as you can until you find one, or a few, that resonate with your soul. Once you have yours–frame that sucker. Post it on your social media. Write it on your bathroom mirror. Tell your friends. Tattoo it on your heart.
And from this moment forward, start with “why.”