If you’ve explored Daily New Years much, you’ll see that goal setting is a frequent topic of discussion. I love to talk about goal setting strategies, how to overcome failures and setbacks, and much more around the subject, but recently I’ve discovered that an essential part of any goal in life, big or small, is knowing why you want to achieve a particular goal.
Tony Robbins teaches that “If you get a big enough “why” you can do anything.” This idea is one of the most impactful things I’ve ever heard.
This idea of ‘why’ causes to me think back on several goals of failure’s past, both my goals and those of others. I remember that my grandma failed to quit smoking after several attempts. The habit had her locked in for over 40 years, so it was tough to quit.
Can you imagine for smoking for that long and trying to quit? I sure as heck can’t!
However, in 2002 my cousin Jacob was born, and she finally kicked the habit. She found her ‘why’! She’s not with us now, so I can’t ask her what changed, but I believe she thought she had seen all her grandkids grow up to be adults, but her youngest son, my uncle, suddenly gave her a whole new generation of grandchildren to love and raise. So, she had to get serious.
Her new found ‘why’ was so powerful that she quit smoking in a very short amount of time even though she had tried and failed so many times before. That’s powerful!
Start with Why
Simon Sinek has been spreading his message “Start with Why” across the globe, and you can check out Simon’s story and buy his book here. In short, he says that “Your ‘why’ is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you.”
The problem is that so many people start with ‘what’ they want to do. Some people may even know how to do what they want. For example:
“I want to lose weight, and I know I need to limit my caloric intake and start getting more exercise.”
With this example, you have the what and how, but you don’t have a ‘why.’ Why do you want to lose weight? It’s something that so many people overlook.
How Do You Find Your Why?
Simon has an overarching ‘why’ for his whole life:
“My WHY is to inspire people to do what inspires them so that, together, we can change our world for the better.”
However, if you want to start smaller, you can set a ‘why’ for your individual goals or different areas in your life. In your career, for example: start by asking yourself a few questions like “What inspires me to do what I do?” or “What gets me out of bed in the morning.” You should be able to find a ‘why’ without too much effort, but if you can’t, maybe you’re at the wrong company or in the wrong industry.
On a more granular level, you can have a ‘why’ for each of your goals. Last year I had a goal of completing an intense powerlifting program because I wanted to get on the Wall of Fame in my gym. I didn’t have a ‘why’ for wanting to be up on that wall (other than bragging rights), but getting on the wall was my ‘why’ for how frequently I went to the gym, for how heavy I lifted, and for how much protein I ate. As soon as I hit that goal, I quickly lost track of my diet and stopped lifting as intently, all because I didn’t have a new ‘why.’ You can read more about my journey here.
The point is, if what you want to do is worth doing, then it should be relatively easy to find a ‘why’ for it. If not, maybe you don’t honestly want to do that thing, or perhaps you need to dig deeper.
Why Provides Clarity
I’m always looking for the ‘why’ in everything I do because it’s a good motivator, but it also provides clarity and helps me filter all the opportunities I come across.
For example, If I find myself not wanting to go to a board meeting repeatedly, I stop to consider why I don’t want to go. It may help me to realize that: a) I either shouldn’t have joined the board and I need to resign, or b) I should dig a little deeper to find the reason why I joined in the first place.
Once you establish why you’re doing something, it becomes so much easier to engage fully with the activity. However, if you can’t find a ‘why,’ then you can walk away and never wonder if you should have stuck with it or not.
I love how Tony Robbins said it on his podcast:
“Let’s you and I get rid of this whole ‘how’ thing just for a second. ‘How’ is not as important as ‘why’ or ‘what’. The way you create, if you have to ask yourself ‘how am I gonna do it?’, most people won’t do it for the very reason you say ‘I don’t know how. I don’t know how to do any of this shit!’
What I did is I decided ‘what’. That is what a leader does. “What am I gonna do? What’s the result I’m gonna produce, and, more importantly, ‘why’?”
Reasons come first and answers come second. If you get a big enough ‘why’, you can do anything. The problem with your view of ‘I don’t know how.’ is you’re focusing on ‘how’. You can figure out the ‘how’ if you got a strong enough ‘what’ and ‘why’.
Are you struggling with finding your ‘why’?
If so, drop a comment below or email me. I’d love to talk to you about your journey and see if I can help coach you in any way. You can also join my free Slack Channel Community. There, you can have one-on-one chats with me, or anyone else in the DNY community.