I took the past couple of weeks of blogging for a couple of reasons. The first being that I’ve started out 2014 more sick than I can ever remember being in my adult life and it’s been crippling to my creativity and productivity, and the second is because during the businesses of the holidays I let myself forget my Why— my reason for everything that I set out to do six months ago.
I know that I’ve mentioned it before, but when I left my last job I finally felt like I had the opportunity to dream again. I had this unique window of time that would allow me to dig into myself to find my Why and understand more about what was motivating me to be an entrepreneur and to pursue something completely outside of the normal route to success. The mistake that I made wasn’t ignoring the process of digging out my Why, but rather ignoring the process of mapping out my Why. Let me explain.
It’s easy to think about what your immediate Why is. “My Why for eating healthy is so I lose weight!” But what’s the motivating factor behind why you want to lose weight? Are you trying to be healthier for your kids? Do you want to lose weight to hit a certain goal? Do you have a vacation planned that you want to feel your best for? Mapping out the reasons behind your Why is the process that ensures you stick to it when times get tough.
Digging out your Why allows you to understand your purpose and understanding your purpose helps you create a plan.
Here’s an example of how I mapped out my Why for writing this blog:
WHY do I blog: My immediate response is: because I love to share things I’m passionate about. However, when I map out WHY that’s so important to me, I find my purpose in my passion.
- WHY do I love to share things: because I love community. I love the idea of writing something that might touch someone and help them in a season of their life that feels hopeless or even just encourage them to care more about themselves. I also blog because it teaches me to be a better writer and it teaches me to understand myself on a deeper level of exposed intimacy.
- WHY do I have to write everyday: because in order to foster community and to become a better writer I have to have consistency.
- WHY do I expect people to read what I write: because I take time to create genuinely interesting content– or at least that’s the goal.
So if I take those three whys, I come up with my point of view:
This blog exists to foster community, encourage and enrich the lives of my readers and to teach me to be a better writer and a better communicator to people.
Once I have my point of view I can create a plan. Basically any idea I have, I run it past my point of view to make sure it lines up. For example, if I want to write a post about a lipstick, I ask myself these questions:
- Would knowing about this product make someone’s life better?
- Will this product review foster community?
- Does this blog post as a whole enrich someone’s life?
- Is this content good enough to have my name attached to it?
- If someone found my blog because of this, would they be encouraged to keep reading or would they never come back?
With that same point of view in my mind, I can translate that across my social media platforms, my e-mail exchanges with friends, followers and family, my day to day interactions with strangers– anyone. My point of view becomes a mission statement for my Why. See how it translates here:
This season of my life, my Why is to foster community with those around me (both here in New York, with pre-existing friendships and also virtually with those that I’ve met through the blog), to encourage those around me to live their best life, to support and enrich their dreams and goals however I can and to become a better writer and communicator to people.
When I lose sight of that Why, I lose motivation, and losing motivation means losing momentum. Losing momentum means that I’ve pretty much thrown in the towel, and throwing in the towel means that I better just go live someone else’s dream because I’m giving up on my own.
This is the first year of my life that I’m allowing my Why to be my motivating factor instead of my circumstances. Why? Because that’s what dreamers do. It’s easy to look at your circumstances and be defined by them, but real change happens when you dig out your Why from the core of who you are and use that Why as your sounding board instead. Imagine how much richer your life would be if you constantly went back to your purpose for doing what you’re doing. And if you can’t find your Why then you probably shouldn’t be doing it at all.
What’s your Why for this season of your life? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Create a map to understand your motivation and you’ll never forget your Why again.