“Find your why and you’ll find your way.” ~ John C. Maxwell
Over the last few weeks, we have been mapping out our big dreams and goals for our future. But there is one big item we haven’t discussed yet. WHY are you doing this? Finding your ‘why’ is a critical part of this goal-chasing journey. Things will get hard, you will have to say “no” to things that you really want to do, you will make sacrifices and question yourself. It is during these tough times that your why becomes so important. Your WHY is what will keep you going, it is what will get you over that hump and what will help you stay the course. Your ‘why’ is HOW you will achieve your goals! Your dreams are big, and your goals are big, so guess what your why needs to be BIG too.
Many of us can rattle off any number of reasons we do something…I need a job to pay off student loans, pay bills, etc.! But that is a reason and not a ‘why’. For that, you must dig deeper and look inside yourself.
I want to work through a short exercise you can use to find your own why. Often, we grab onto the first thought that crosses our mind and call it our ‘why’, but there is usually something deeper to that thought and that is what we are looking for today. It is like in Harry Potter when he is trying to do the Patronus spell for the first time! Yes, I am an HP dork, and if you have not seen it then stop now and watch it (this scene is in the 5th movie!). Anyways…in the scene, Harry is told to think of the happiest memory he has. He is supposed to focus on it and let it fill him up so he can fight the dementors (aka happiness/soul-sucking monsters). He chooses the first time he flew on a broom, but it wasn’t strong enough, he needed the happiest memory in him to make it work. Well, your doubts, fatigue, and any other obstacle that comes along is your dementor. So, you better have a kick a#* WHY to stop those negative thoughts in their tracks!
Well, I digressed just a bit there, so back to the exercise…Our lives are made up of millions of stories, and those stories have made an impact in one way or another. Look back at your life and the stories (past and current) that have led you to this place; to learning about goals, accountability, and all the life-growing tasks you are pursuing, and write them down.
Now take a look at your stories, are there commonalities or themes you see? Take note of those, they will give you valuable insights into yourself!
For example, here is one of my dreams from the goals roadmap. "To have a career I love and contribute equally to our finances."
So, my process for finding my ‘why’ looks a little like this; as I changed my life from a stay-at-home mom to a college student at 30 something (wink wink) my ‘why’ had to be strong. Accounting courses were hard, going back to college again after 10 years was hard, doing it all while homeschooling two kids was freaking HARD! My why came from my stories, from my past, from my upbringing. Here is my story and my way through the process I just discussed.
Stories that shaped me:
My mom was a stay-at-home mom. She didn’t go to college or really have a career. Her whole life was wrapped up in her kids and her home. As we became adults and didn’t need her in the same capacity she was lost. Fast forward to a divorce after kids were out of the home and I saw my mom in her upper 50’s with no education and very little work history.
Growing up my sister and I, were not encouraged to have a career. We were taught to get married, have kids, and stay at home (side note there is nothing wrong with any of that, and is a worthy calling and life path, just part of my story).
One of my childhood friends lost their spouse and was suddenly a single mom. Another had a husband walk out and refuse to pay child support.
These are just a few parts of my story, but you get the picture. Looking at those stories I see a theme of lacking self, of living a life of dependence and being stuck in a circumstance. I look at my mom’s story and my friends’ stories and I knew I didn’t want to ever be in that position. I didn’t want my security and future to be tied to someone else. I didn’t want to have to depend on someone else paying my way. I needed to stand on my own two feet and know that if something happened, I could take care of my family and be an equal contributor to my family’s future (whatever it might look like). Now, when I look at those stories, and what they say to me, and how they shaped my life, fears, dreams, and aspirations I have a rock-solid WHY! I want to have a career and contribute equally so that I can stand on my own two feet, and I can provide financially for my family and not just be reliant on others. I need independence, security, and a career of my own and that ‘why’ drove me to stick with a hard degree, late nights and now working multiple jobs to gain experience so I can hit the ground running!!
What is your why?
My next blog will contain a worksheet to guide you through the goal-setting roadmap to use over and over...or even better make it your own and create your own roadmap strategy!