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From the Why Comes the How

Sometimes, things just don’t go the way you want.

You choose a major in college–or even a career path–only to find yourself dreading your work. You start a hobby but it fizzles out shortly after you buy all of the materials you need. You start a diet or an exercise routine but it just doesn’t stick. You feel like you aren’t doing the things or being the person that you want to be in your life, because you can’t hold onto the habits or disciplines necessary to make it a “success.”

The most frustrating part? It all seemed so promising when you started. Where did things go off track?

The success of a venture doesn’t rely on how hard we work at something. It doesn’t rely on how much we want it. It doesn’t even rely on luck.

It relies on your why.

Your why is your center. It’s the thing that compels you to do what you do. It’s the source of your focus and your joy.

And sometimes it’s not as obvious as you might think it would be. When I ran our Innova Retreat last year, I told my retreatants to think of their “Why”…and then to ask it again. And again. And again. And usually after 5 or 6 tries, you get to the heart of things.

For example, if someone says: “I starting this diet to lose weight.” Okay, but why? “Because I want to feel better about myself.” Alright. But why? “Because I don’t like the way my clothes fit, the way I get out of breath, the way I feel when I am this weight.” Good. Why does that matter to you? “Because when I am this out of breath, I can’t play with my kids. I don’t want to take family pictures. I have less energy and enjoy daily life less.” Almost there. Why does that matter??? “Because my family matters to me more than anything else in the world.”

And there. BOOM. We’ve finally reached the heart of the matter. If you can dig deep enough to realize what really motivates and drives you, and why something matters to you, then it can be in the forefront of your mind as you undertake the hard work.

Your why then crafts your how. 

It’s the thing that you focus on when things get tough. Just think: if the person in the previous example didn’t clarify their why, she might put a picture of skinny jeans on the mirror as a motivating factor, or write down their ideal weight and post it on the fridge. But that’s not what really motivates her. She is doing this to have a deeper quality of time with her kids. And so the thing that will keep her on track might actually be a picture of her children on the fridge, and an encouraging note from her kids on the mirror. It might be visualizing playing for hours at a time with her children when she’s working out rather than imagining rock hard abs.

Knowing your why can change everything. You can set yourself up for success by recognizing your why from the beginning and creating a plan that supports it and returns to it frequently. You can create motivational tools for yourself based on your understanding of your why (remember how I talked about different motivations for different people in yesterday’s post?).

From the why comes the how.

Think about your why, then dig deeper. And deeper still. And eventually, you’ll find your foundation…and then–and only then–you can get truly building.

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