Have you already discovered your “why”?
Do you know what motivates you? What clarifies your purpose? The reason behind what you do?
I (April) have been reading Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why, and I’ve learned some powerful concepts from him that I am confident can help you better articulate the purpose behind your goals and dreams. Above is a podcast player where you can listen to a conversation I had recently with Eric, and then we’d love to hear from you in the comments.
(1) Our Whys Can Have Many Different Facets
Sinek talks a lot about Apple as a company who is doing this right. Apple doesn’t “sell computers”–it challenges the status quo.
Why does that matter? It enables them to make any product they want–MP3 players, phones, watches, televisions… and we will buy them because we believe in the reason behind what they’re doing.
Here’s how I’ve applied that idea to my life:
After reading Essentialism, by Greg McKeown (GREAT book!!), I was totally convinced that doing less is more. (Still am.)
So I’ve felt a bit scattered as I have been working with Power of Moms, LearnDoBecome, and SANESolution–plus creating new programs, writing a book about my sweet mother with Alzheimer’s, and generating new interests and passions in totally new areas.
Somewhere deep in my heart, I keep hearing the question, “Seriously, April, what are you trying to DO?” Maybe you can relate?
After thinking deeply about this situation for the past several months, I realized that I just needed to figure out the WHY that encompasses all these projects. It turns out I’m not totally scattered…just excited about life. I bet you are, too.
(2) Our Whys Can Adapt to Different Seasons of Our Lives
When I try to come up with the one “why statement” that is going to hang on my wall until I’m 80, that stresses me out.
Doesn’t it make sense that our purposes can develop and grow as we and our families develop and grow?
I like that because my life is not always going to be the way it is right now.
For example, let me take you to a moment from yesterday: I had plans to work on a computer project between grocery shopping and driving my daughter’s friend back to her house across town. Before I got started, I popped into the kitchen to grab a snack.
It was then I discovered that my 8-year-old son had microwaved a Popsicle so he could drink it from a bowl with a straw (an idea inspired by his 12-year-old brother), but then he had stuck the bowl in the freezer because he didn’t want it anymore. When someone opened the freezer drawer, Popsicle juice got EVERYWHERE, so I had to show my two boys how to empty and wash out the freezer–instead of completing my project.
Of course my 12-year-old happened to be wearing Rollerblades at the time, because we’d never specifically thought to say that there’s no skating in the kitchen, and this also happened to be the same day we’d removed our dishwasher to prepare for a replacement that ended up being delayed several days at the last minute, so we were already dealing with a little extra hand-washing.
Big deal? Serious problem?
No. Not at all, when you look at it with a broader perspective.
But these are the kinds of things that distract me from creating that broad, deep vision I hope to have 15 years from now, when no one is skating anywhere in my house.
What words would describe your “season” right now? What is going to be different in 15 years?
(3) Our Whys Need to Give Us Space to Dance
As Eric and I talked recently about our personal life architecture, I shared my dream of wanting to “dance” every day.
That’s my metaphor for being in my creative mode, where I’m not a slave to my email or to a long list of mind-numbing tasks. Instead, I have margin and energy where I can do what I love to do…what I feel I was meant to do.
Think about it for a second. What does “dancing” look like to you?
For me, writing is one of those things: quiet time spent deep in thought, where I can connect ideas and share them with people who “get” me.
This dancing time has felt limited/non-existent lately while LearnDoBecome has been in start-up mode. I’ve been aching to share my heart, and finally, when Eric noticed how hard it was for me not to write, he said, “Will you please just block out some time on the calendar and I will give you all the time you need?”
I know I didn’t need permission, but boy, that felt like Christmas.
Even if it is just 15 minutes here and there, our why needs to give us the freedom to breathe, create, and dance in our own special way.
We all need that.
Now that I’ve totally built this up, here’s my best articulation of my “why”:
To architect a life of excellence–centered on family and moving upward towards God–with a beautiful balance of spiritual, mental, and physical development that enables others to do the same.
Why am I excited about this? Because it truly encompasses all of the things that light me up.
Podcasting, program creation, reading, writing…I love those things. But it also includes taking a day off to go to the beach with my children or visit my parents and kissing my husband on the couch when my kids aren’t looking.
It’s tempting to think, “I’m too busy to consider my why.” Or, “I’ll think about it after the new year.”
But honestly, once you can articulate the why behind all that you are doing, it silences that nagging voice in your head that keeps telling you there’s “something more out there.”
Thoughts? Questions? Ideas? We’ve got a special Next Action for you at the end of the podcast, as well.
P.S. Here’s the video of Steve Jobs that Eric talked about in the podcast (great thoughts here!):