CIP056: Why, Why, WHY?! Finding Meaning and Purpose
The starting place for any adventure, project, collaboration, big leap, epic change, scary ass challenge that I take on is answering the simple question:
Why am I doing this?
Why am I really doing this?
Why does this matter to me?
It’s not often I get asked these ‘why’ questions. More common is ‘How’?
How do you get the courage to speak on stage?
How did you build your website?
How do you grow your lnstagram account?
These questions are pointless, without first finding your why.
But I get why you aren’t asking why more.
It’s not a question we’re encouraged to ask. At one point, you were probably really good at asking ‘why?’… that was until some big person told you to be quiet and stop being so nosey.
Or my personal (un)favourite: ‘I’ll tell you when you’re older.’
My parents have a LOT of questions to answer…
Anyway, starting with why isn’t a new or radical idea. You just have to watch the TED talk by Simon Sinek to get on that bandwagon.
The reason I’m getting into it today with you, at the start of this 21 day journey into facing the Resistance, is to show you how having your grand Why will help you when it comes to overcoming creative resistance, that inner critic, and finally achieving all your dreams.
I realised some time ago the only way I can do something scary, something my inner Resistance is preventing me from undertaking, is to have a damn good reason why.
Why is ‘why’ such a big deal?
Here’s my why.
It’s the KNOWING – and truly believing in – your why, that is everything.
From sending out an email, asking for a favour.
To applying for a job. Asking someone a difficult question.
You can know the what – what you want to be, do or have.
You can even have a good idea of the how to get there.
But without the why…
It’s likely that the Resistance will win, when push comes to shove you under the covers and stay in bed with Netflix.
When you have your why, you can turn around to the Resistance and declare:
“Get OUT of my way, I know what I’m doing and more importantly: I know WHY I’m doing it. And NOTHING will get in my way!”
When your why is more important than your ‘what if’, the Resistance doesn’t stand a chance.
Oh don’t worry – I won’t just leave you with just a sales pitch for Why.
You’ll want to know how to find your Why, right? Which is fair. I’ve given you the why of the why, know you ought to know the how.
To start, there are actually TWO Why’s I want you to find.
Why 1: Your Resistance’s Why
Yes, your Why is up against the Why of your Resistance. No wonder you’re in this standstill!
To find out what motivation your Resistance has, ask yourself why you’re scared or resisting this ‘thing’ (whatever you’re trying to achieve) in the first place.
Could it be…
You’re scared of what someone will say about your new painting, unless it’s ‘perfect’?
Or may be you’re scared of offending someone if you say no to their invitation to a rowdy night on the town?
Or may be you’re simply bored with this project and you know there are more important Why’s in your future.
Remember, the Resistance isn’t your enemy: it really has fairly rational reasons and is trying to keep you safe and still: right where you are.
The problem is… That won’t help you evolve or become who you are truly meant to be. Which is terribly unsatisfying and will likely send you to an early grave (a metaphorical one anyway.)
Have a dig around, and keep interrogating the Resistance until you get an answer that feels significant.
Why 2: Your Big, Fat, Juicy WHY
Before you start judging your why, please remember that this Why is just for you. It just has to be big enough for you to give a damn about: no one said it has to be altruistic or poetic or something you’ ll want on your Twitter bio.
It could be just for now or it could be for future you.
One of my favourite exercises is to fantasise about my dream day. This is a day in the not-too-distant future, and not so ludicrous that it seems impossible (so, you know, I’m may be not married to Kit Harington…)
More importantly than the nitty gritty details of my future day, is how I FEEL on that day.
I might feel: free, easy, light, abundant, excited, entertained, laughter, joy…
I could go on.
But those feelings become my Why: and I can measure any and all decisions and activities and goals I take on against these feelings.
Am I acting according to my Why?
If I’m choosing between X and Y, which will be more likely lead me to my future day?
Which would help me experience those feelings NOW?
Your Why might be something more concrete: like building a school for children in Africa. Wonderful.
But can you go deeper? Can you ask Why that’s important to you?
May be you can’t put it into words… but I bet you can FEEL it.
I bet you can put yourself into a fantasy where you’ve made that dream a reality and you’re standing there, looking at your school, and you feel…
All the above? Great! Go with that: you’ve found your Why.
You’ll notice that your Why is more than a What. My perfect day is a What, your school in Africa is a What, and a good one at that.
But your Why… That’s a feeling, and one that’s about as deep as it gets.
It moves you.
It’s going to move you past the Resistance, that’s for sure.
Now it’s also important to remember: on the odd occasion your why will leave you feeling… Meh. A bit underwhelmed.
This happened to me when I ‘Why’d’ my pet portrait business. I was left realising that I had no significant Why, not one that really moved me, so much so that I couldn’t move forward and feel like I was acting in accordance to my true self.
So if this happens to you?
Know that it’s 100% ok: and your Why is waiting for you elsewhere, inside another project, career, relationship or hobby.
Now you can start searching for:
1: A Why that feels BIG and moves you
2: A What that serves as your guiding star on your journey
3: A How that comes easily (and it will) as the universe conspires to make your Why a reality
So that’s my tip for today: now go forth and ask WHY.
Email me email@example.com with your Why (or one of your Why’s)
Or if you’d prefer to keep it to yourself, jot it down (on real paper!) and keep it somewhere safe.