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Forget Your Why…Begin With Your Purpose!

Originally posted on Sun, Feb 21, 2010 edited and updated to stay relevant

I recently read an article that was essentially asking how big your “why” was in order to increase your motivation to achieve your life goals. You will undoubtedly run into this topic and/or activity if you study personal development for any length of time.

It is a very important part of becoming a goal-achieving and producing individual.

This article got me thinking about me and my individual list of “why’s” which I had created over the years. Although I agree with the exercise and the thought process, I can’t really say that finding my "why" ever really worked that well for me.

Begin with your purpose
This is what I looked like at the time.

This had me a bit intrigued so I continued thinking about it as I went on my daily jog. So on this particular jog, I tried to get to the bottom of why I felt that the finding your “why” exercise never really worked for me.

It wasn’t that I didn’t make my list, It wasn’t that I did not review it, it wasn’t even that I was not passionate about my “why”. After a few minutes of jogging and working this out in my head, I had an unrelated thought, or so I thought. ;)

I noticed that my list of “why’s” were generally about what I wanted to get out of achieving my life goals. My list of whys looked like a very expensive shopping list for me, my family and my friends and of course a good cause here and there.

Still for some reason I never really got motivated by having all these “reasons” to achieve. This may have been because everything on that list seemed to somewhat self-serving; filled with good intentions but self-serving nonetheless.

I thought a little bit more about this idea and thought to myself, “what if I change the direction of this list to be outward instead of inward?”

Finding your WHY

I thought about this for a while and began to get very excited about the idea. I had visions of helping people, supporting people in reaching their life goals, changing people’s lives based on my teachings, keeping families together, improving their place in society. (I guess this was an early version of helping people live more fulfilled and enriched lives).

So instead of thinking about what I wanted to get out of having achieved my goals, I began to think about what I could give to the world as I achieve them.

How could I leave the world a better place than I found it? How am I able to improve the lives of others? What is my mission? My purpose? I felt as if I had it all backwards!

I began working on my list of why’s before I really had a clear vision of a mission or a purpose.

This really opened up a whole new level of opportunities and ideas for me. I had finally created a list of goals that I could get behind on a regular basis. A list that made me happy to get up in the morning...and not just for myself or my loved was much bigger than that.

Why am I even writing this? What's the point?

What I am trying to convey here is not that there is anything wrong with the “why” exercise. It is still useful and a useful activity to complete.

I feel however, that not everyone works in the same manner. There are plenty of people out there who have gotten nothing out of doing the "why" activity. Some people need to do different tings in order to light that fire inside of them.

I needed to find my purpose before I got into my why. I'm sure there are people out there who would feel or think the same.

With getting this straightened out, I was able to come up with a really simple “how” which was inspired by both my “purpose” and my “why”.

I now have a much better understanding of what I want to do, why I want to do it and even how to go about doing it. Feels like a recipe for success to me.

Have a different viewpoint on this topic? I would love to hear what you have to say. Let us know in the comment section below.


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