WHY? It’s a question that I think it completely undervalued, and it is a question that I try to ask myself on a regular basis. Why are you in your job? Why are you studying? Why do you want to achieve that goal? Why are you giving up sugar? Why do you feel the way you do? What is the reason you do what you do?
Whatever question it is that you ask yourself, the answer holds immense value. We should let that answer drive our lives. Research shows that we are on auto pilot for 46% of the day. That means that we go through the majority of our day doing things not on purpose, but instead ‘just because’. Sometimes we just need to stop, and ask ourselves why we are doing what it is we are doing.
I like to do an exercise called the 5 ‘whys’ to cut through all ‘superficial’ answers to the why question. It goes like this: next time you ask someone a question with the word ‘why’ in it, ask them 5 times. For example, this exercise was done to me and it made me actually realise the deeper reason why I wanted to speak at schools. The conversation went like this:
Partner: Why do you want to speak at schools?
Me: To be able to have an impact on kid’s lives
Partner: But why do you want to have an impact on their lives?
Me: Well I guess I can see so much potential in them and I can see that sometimes all they need is a little boost to get them to aspire to something bigger than what they might have otherwise.
Partner: Why are you passionate about getting them to aspire to big things, and why aren’t you just happy for them to grow up and be a standard, normal citizen?
Me: (Side note- I start getting really passionate at this stage) Well, because there’s so much S*** going on in the world! Kids getting lost in technology, wars, politics, people purposely being cruel to each other. If I have the power to go into a school, and just 1 out of 100 kids gets inspired to change the world that we live in, and contribute something positive, then that’s pretty special. Kids look up to Olympians. I’m not more important or wiser than any of their teachers, but I have power with the status of being an Olympian. I can tell kids the importance of goal setting, and it might hold more value than if their teacher told them. What a gift I’ve been given!
Do you see how quickly I went from a very superficial answer, an answer that I’ve given to people more than once, to actually realising the true reason I do it? Try it with someone next time you’re feeling brave and wanting to get real!
Let this word drive your life. If your why isn’t big enough, passionate enough, good enough, then I would question whether or not you should be doing it in the first place. If your ‘why’ is to please someone else, to live up to someone else's expectations, or if you don’t even know why you’re doing it, then make a change. On the contrary, if you have a goal, and you have hundreds of reasons why you want to achieve that goal, then you are 1000 times more likely to stick at it because you have so much to gain from it.
We’ve all been through tough times. Mentally, emotionally, physically. Relationships, death, injury, financial strife. Those times when you don’t want to get out of bed, you press snooze. It’s raining, it’s too cold, you’re too tired, you can always do it tomorrow. You lack motivation, purpose, strength.
If your ‘why’ is engrained in you deep enough, when you’re in those tough times, you can use that just like you would use a torch in the pitch black. You can use it as your fuel to get you out of bed, to keep pushing even when you could easily give up. I’ve had many moments where I’ll be crying on the couch, questioning why I should go on. It always comes back to my family and friends for me. What’s your why? Write a list. Put it on your wall, look at it and repeat daily!