Sinek’s message is simple. The ability to inspire those around you, to achieve remarkable things, to feel fulfilled by “what” you do starts with knowing your purpose, your “why.” Sinek explains, “Once you understand your WHY, you’ll be able to clearly articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and to better understand what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best. When you can do that, you’ll have a point of reference for everything you do going forward. You’ll be able to make more intentional choices for your business, your career and your life. You’ll be able to inspire others to buy from you, work with you and join your cause.”
Excellent and inspiring work. Except, what if you can’t find your why?
I often talk to my coaching clients about the importance of knowing their why. It keeps them grounded and motivated through the ups and down life brings. But despite the power discovering your true passion and purpose in life has, I find that so many women are stressing over the distinction and it is holding them back.
They’re asking themselves, “What if my why is vague or non-specific? What if my why is too simple? What if my why isn’t an eloquent and powerful statement of who I am? What if I can only sense my purpose but I can’t name it? What if in a few months my why changes? Hesitancy, doubt and fear creep in and motivation turns into an exhausting quest that we think will automatically make our lives make sense.
It’s an unfair pressure. All that stress can lead to indecision. Thinking leads to more thinking and we become paralyzed.
The key to moving past all that anxiety? Action. Take small steps. One at a time. Most of us already know our why at some level; we just have to have patience and find peace in the process of finding it
So start with these small steps to begin uncovering your WHY:
Look at your past. What were your childhood dreams? When in your life have you felt the most fulfilled? What are your greatest accomplishments? What makes you feel the most confident? Then spend some time reflecting on the themes in your answers.
- Ask others. Ask a close friend how they would describe you. Ask a client why they work with you. Ask your family what they think motivates you. Talk to your network about what makes you, YOU! I guarantee you’ll find some inspiring answers.
- Take some time for self-reflection. Define what success means to you personally. Clarify your personal values. Get a journal and start putting down your feelings, thoughts, actions, and behaviors.
- Use resources to help you. There’s a multitude of online worksheets and books designed to help you sift through your thoughts and feelings to identify your purpose. Simon Sinek has even published a workbook to help you on the journey to “Find Your WHY.” Find a mentor or a coach to help you navigate your thoughts. I’d love to sit down with you to provide support and guidance at my next Connect with a Coach session.
- Follow your curiosities. Release yourself from the pressure of having a purpose or passion and follow your curiosity. Your curiosity might lead you to your purpose. Sinek even points out that “Finding WHY is a process of discovery, not invention.” You don’t have to be sure yet, move into exploration and experimentation and enjoy the process. Ask yourself what interests you and pursue that. If you end up realizing that’s not what you want to do, move on to the next thing. It doesn’t mean you’re wasting time because you will grow and learn from the experience.
- Adopt someone else’s why. If your why isn’t clear, or if you can’t do your why on your own, or just yet, it’s OK to follow someone else’s why. That could be a family, a church, a cause or a company. It’s not a requirement to have your own vision, you just need to be attached to one that you believe in. That is more than enough to add meaning, integrity and direction to your life.
Whatever you do, move forward.
You can’t force yourself to find your “why” tomorrow or next month, or even next year. You can’t always control the timing of finding your purpose. But by all means, search for clarity, take action and move closer to the life you crave.
Action fuels your sense of motivation, strengthens your sense of purpose and provides the opportunity to evaluate. Over time you’ll become more careful and selective about your daily engagements, and you’ll refine what you value and what you want in your life. Your “why” will develop naturally if you are moving forward in progress.