3 Ways to use Your Why to Help You


 The road ends in water. That's the sign I saw on a recent motorcycle trip.


So I'm cruising around enjoying the fall colors near a lake, when I saw this sign, and immediately I laughed in my helmet. First of all, I don't remember ever seeing a road sign like this road ends in water. But there was still something about it. that struck me as funny.

I snapped a picture of it. I thought about it a while. As I turned around, after all, I was there on a motorcycle, at the lake, not a boat. And as I continued my ride, I kept thinking about it and realize why the sign struck me is funny.

The reason was why I was there in the first place. I was there ride my motorcycle, not to get in the water. So I'll explain more in a minute.


What do I mean by "Why?"

 Why can be used in two ways. One is to talk about past events. We use why to look at causality. What happened that resulted in this…whatever this is. What were you thinking when you did that? But that's not the version of why I'm thinking about today. So the other is current and future plans.

 Another way to think about your Why is to think of it like your purpose, or in other words, why you are doing something as opposed to what you're doing or how you're doing it. So why differs from other kind of directional questions? Why is distinctly different than what we're doing. It's also different than how we are going to accomplish that, or where we are going, for instance.


The Importance of Knowing Your "Why"

And I believe that knowing your why…why you are doing something is truly a difference maker in your journey. Here's why. Without a why we stray, we stumble, and we give up when we encounter obstacles. So in other words, along our journey as we encounter difficulties, things that would make us want to quit. It's our why that keeps us stuck staying on the course. It's our why that gives us sticking power staying power. But it's too often disregarded. The Why is neglected or it's even forgotten. Maybe we start out well but we end up forgetting it. Too many times, I think we are so busy, so committed to doing some-thing, that we don't even stop to consider why we are doing it. Or we set out with a good purpose. But without intentionally calling out or publishing our why to others, there's no chance that it will survive the journey, or survive the difficulties much less guide us along the path.


Three Ways to Use Your "Why" to Help You

I want to give you three tips for how to use your why to help you.

  1. Write it down.

    What do we do with the most important things in our lives? We write them down so that we won't forget them: all the way from our grocery list to our passwords, our will. That is the last thing that happens in our life, we want to make sure to happen, so we have to write it down.

  2. Reference your Why at major milestones.

    So tie your wins to your Why's.  In other words, your achievements. This helps us pair our results to our purpose. And for the long projects, it submits our purpose in our minds, so that we're less likely to stray. So as we experienced these successes, these quick wins or gradual wins, then tying them to our Why's helps us remember our Why's in the next phase of this long journey, when we may encounter problems and not as much success, but we still need to stick with our Why. Also pull it out when you're in the slump when you are in those difficult times of your journey. And you need some motivation. Remind yourself why you are doing this.

  3. Tell someone else.

    If you are on a personal project, tell someone tell them what you're working on and why you're doing it. It gives accountability. When you've told someone that you're going to do something or why you're doing it, it triggers a sense of responsibility in your conscience to stick to what you've said or to feel some sense of responsibility that need to update someone or to be prepared to answer them, when they asked me "How's it going?"


Also, it gives the other person a chance to be your cheerleader. It gives you a support person in case you do stumble; someone that you can go to who already has context for why you were doing what you were doing, why it was important.

 Now if you're on a group project, it's important that you co-create your Why so that it's a shared Why that you determine together. If you're the leader, and it's your Why that you're wanting to pass along, then ensure that there is some buy-in from those who are responsible for delivering results. Remember that people support what they help to create


What Happens When You Operate in Your "Why" 

Okay. But I still haven't told you why that sign struck me as funny. When you're operating in your why mode, a couple things happen. You are focused on what you're trying to achieve while you're trying to achieve it. The alternatives are unappealing. You're not quite as distractible in your journey. And when you're presented with warnings or questions along the way, you may find yourself laughing or even being confused as to, you know, what does this have to do with what I'm doing?

 In my case, my mind was 100% on cruising, looking at fall colors, enjoying a motorcycle ride, looking at the scenery, processing my thoughts for the day, whatever. So when I stumble upon a warning sign of road ends and water, my first reaction was the laugh like, why would I take my motorcycle in the water? I don't, I don't want to go in the water. Then start to wonder, you know, has someone ever missed the sign right? Whoops, you know, drove into the water today and get towed out. Alright, so maybe no one would do that (but probably someone has).

 But still this sign is for you. It's just in the case, in this case it's keeping you from something. But if you were a fisherman, it's the final indication that you've made it to where you intended to go. That's the celebration. "Hey, the road ends in water. Woo-hoo! I made it! It's time to go fishing."

Wrapping Up

So let me wrap this up. I can honestly say, for my biggest endeavors over my adult life, I have identified my Why for those really big things. And it has made all the difference. Knowing my purpose in doing something has led me to take on new jobs. It's led me to resign from jobs. It's led me to start a new business. It's also led me to pause a business.

Have you ever tried it? I would love to hear what has worked for you in the past. Share it in the comments here on this video, send me an email. And if you haven't, give it a try, and I'd love to know how it goes.

In the meantime, when your road ends in water, be sure to know whether you're there to go fishing or it's time to turn around!  ;)

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