What's your big WHY?
Everyone has a "why". Your "why" is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you to action.
Knowing your WHY gives you a filter to make choices, a reason to continue when sh*t hits the fan, and a source of fulfillment in everything you do.
But why is discovering your why so darn hard?
I’m going to give it to you straight. It’s because you’re thinking about it wrong.
You’re spending too much time trying to THINK up what your why is, when in reality your why is only really discoverable through ACTION. Testing. Doing. Learning.
Then and only then can you think, reflect and understand how it made you feel.
Ultimately, finding your why is best accomplished by putting something out into the world without overthinking it, to see how it's received and how you feel doing it.
I know this answer isn’t going to satisfy the thinkers out there.
So before you throw your arms up in dismay and proclaim that you can’t spend your whole life testing endless jobs, projects or business ideas until you find your why - I have a few shortcuts for you.
1. What have you done in the past that felt incredibly fulfilling?
You don’t need to spend the rest of your life testing ideas. You already have years of experiences to help you figure out your why. So dive into these and identify all the times you’ve been a) excited about what you were doing, or b) where you found meaning?
When I asked myself this question, I got far more clarity than I was expecting. And that clarity catapulted me forward.
Here’s just one of those experiences and what it meant for me. Use this example to get your memory juices flowing.
Experience: Mentoring entrepreneurs in rural Kenya
Living in Kenya was tough. I’m not one for ruffing it so 3 months in less-than-ideal living conditions was a drain. But teaching, supporting and developing my 6 entrepreneurs into business owners of new hair salons, coal merchants, clothes shops and cafes was one of THE most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.
Takeaway: I get an insane kick out of helping individuals succeed in small business.
When have you got a kick out of something? What were you doing?
2. When have you been at your absolute best?
Now let’s look at the times you’ve felt at your best and where you were using your strengths. These will give you clues about what you’re truly on this planet to do.
Here’s another example to get you going.
Experience: Being on stage. Saturday drama school, school plays and multiple public speaking competitions. I never wanted to be an actress but I got a kick out of sharing things with an audience.
Takeaway: Being on stage is a strength worth developing.
What experiences did you love as a teenager? What strengths are underlying those experiences?
3. Ask yourself these two questions:
What ticks you off?
What breaks your heart?
My answers to these simple questions came pouring out like a flood. They “framed” my work in a new light and I had this revelation: I help people use their full potential to create greater impact.
Seeing people waste their strengths, life, happiness and potential Ticks. Me. Off. something chronic.
It breaks my heart that there are so many passionate, driven thought leaders and potential impact makers out there just like you, who feel stuck with how to make their voice heard and create the impact they’re on this planet to make.
So, what irritates the heck out of you?!
4. Why, why and why? Then why again?
By now you’re going to have a few ideas about when you’ve been the most fulfilled, totally kickass or deeply annoyed.
Now it’s time to ask yourself WHY. Here’s what I mean in practice:
a. Why do I care about helping individuals use their full potential to create a bigger impact?
Because I believe there is an ocean of potential within the current generation of Millennials, who have incredible power to change the world in their unique way, if only each of them knew how.
b. Why do I believe in unleashing that potential for impact?
Because these are the people and causes that can make the world better. And I believe every person deserves to live a full and meaningful life.
c. Why do I believe in…
…keep going with this line of questioning…
Then when you’re getting to the end of all those why’s, ask: why is that important?
But like I said at the beginning — thinking your way to your big why isn’t really a thing. You’ll only ever find your purpose through action.
So, how can you start experimenting today?
If you’re like most of my tribe, you’re an entrepreneur, coach or speaker with a mission (or you’re working on becoming one). If that’s you then I have a bonus tip to help you.
Make your WHY important for your tribe.
Your why might be about giving your kids what you had. But your audience don’t care about your kids (sorry!). They care about themselves. So ask yourself, what’s in it for them?
I have one last step for you...
Email me with your big why. I love hearing from passionate individuals like you, so drop me a note to my inbox and I’ll be sure to reply to you. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This post was originally published on Thrive Global