What is Your Why?

You are lying in bed, enjoying your most comfortable position, dreaming about your favorite things. You feel bliss believing in your heart that you have a few more hours of this amazing sleep left before anyone or anything disturbs it. Suddenly the alarm goes off viciously disrupting your soothing rest. The first test of the day presents itself and lucky for you it is a multiple choice one. What do you do? (a) Throw the source of the alarming noise as far away from your bed as possible; (b) Snooze the alarm, giving yourself about 10 minutes to figure out what you will do next; (c) shut the alarm off knowing that you have a second alarm set for 15 minutes later and a third for 15 minutes after that; or (d) jump out of bed, into the shower and get ready for whatever the day holds for you. This is a dilemma faced by so many people on a daily basis. For me, I honestly used to mix my response between the first three options. Today I can say I only use one.

While many factors can play a role in why we delay our awakening in the morning, I believe one of those factors that are most critical is a fear, anxiety, hesitance or apathy towards why we are waking up and what we are doing that day. If what lays before us that day is unmotivating and unrewarding then the choice to lay in bed and not get up is an easy one. But having a relaxed and lazy approach to the day doesn’t end once you get out of bed. It can trickle into your daily jobs and take many forms. Sitting at the computer surfing the internet all day while at work. Staying glued to social media to see who is doing what and with whom and where. Avoiding interactions with people, especially supervisors. Taking any and every opportunity to take a break, even if it is taking a break from doing nothing. Ultimately the goal is to coast through the day, keeping a vigilant eye on the clock and when the little hand hits the hour that marks our dismissal from work. I can be critical of this only because it was me in a nutshell for many years- until I started asking myself the right questions.

Why? Why did I get out of bed this morning? Why am I doing what I am doing? Why am I working here? Why am I spending my day wasting time? Why do I rush through the week fixated on Fridays which signifies the weekend meaning I get to relax and do nothing? Why should anyone care about my work? Why am I taking my blessings for granted? Why am I not serving the interests of others instead of my own? Why should anyone care to know who I am? Why do I waste so much time on things that do not matter? Why?

When I was in law school struggling to survive, I remember the countless times I looked back on my personal statement I used to apply and get into school. It expressed my passion for becoming an attorney. It laid out my plan for the future and what I wanted to accomplish. Those words, that statement, provided me with the energy and determination I needed to keep moving forward no matter what obstacles laid before me. That is the power of purpose. That is the power of why. If I lacked a true reason for being in law school and pursuing a degree, or if that motivation was to appease someone else, or if that reason was I just liked the idea of becoming a lawyer but I didn’t truly believe in it, I would have failed or dropped out of law school. I know today that my purpose in life is to give back. My purpose in life is to help as many people as I can possible reach! My purpose in life is to create positive change on any level, whether it be in one person or this entire country. That is why I get out of bed. That is why I do what I do. That is why I have the unconventional and difficult road. That is my why!

For anyone struggling to discover your why, understand that you are not alone. No one will ever come to us and tell us what our purpose truly is. Figuring out our true purpose is not something simple and can only be discovered through a deep and honest conversation with ourselves. While I do not have the magical formula that worked for me, nor a formula I can say that works for anyone else, I would suggest asking yourself the following critical three questions-

  1. How do you define success? Knowing what drives you and what success looks like is key to finding your purpose. Success should not be defined by material items or a collection of wealth. Your success should be something more meaningful that you will not lose interest in once something newer or shinier comes along. Success should be defined by what inspires you. You should have a written definition of what success is and what success looks like for you. That definition should motivate your daily actions and purpose.
  2. What are you passionate about? Passion is defined as a strong and barely controllable emotion. It is powerful and all encompassing. Discovering what you are passionate about will provide a driving force behind your every action. If you could do something and not get paid to do it then you are talking about passion. Following your passion will lead you to money. I honestly look at my work sometimes as cheating in life. I get to fulfill my passion AND I get paid for it? What an amazing feeling.
  3. Are you happy? Happiness is very much self-defined. It is also something that we must be truly honest with ourselves about. If you are not happy with what you are doing then change it. Being happy on a level of comfort or complacency is a false sense of happiness. It is happiness based on low risk. But if you believe that there is more you can and want to do, and there is risk involved but it can lead to a greater sense of happiness and purpose, then why waste time?

Discovering your why will create a greater sense of meaning and purpose in your daily lives. It will also be contagious to others who admire you and ultimately create a domino effect. But it all starts with you.


So what is your why?