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What “Finding Your Why” Really Means


It’s been a buzzy term in recent years that the secret to success is simply “finding your why.” The principle is rooted in a legitimate consideration: humans tend to be compelled by their reasons for doing something, and need that intrinsic motivation. In a personal development or business sense, this “why” stands for a sense of purpose. Simon Sinek’s viral TED talk on the principle gets to the heart of self-discovery, and equates a sense of “why” with one’s personal fulfillment, clarity, and life meaning.

Again, all of this can feel really abstract, but those who emphasize it do have one thing right: finding your ‘why’ matters. It does lead to a greater sense of purpose in your work and in your business, which can have significant ripple effects on your sales, the lives of your clients and customers, and within your personal life. However, for many, the pressure on finding their one big “why” can be daunting, and it can be hard to connect within their work as a result. It doesn’t have to be like that — but it is worth a consideration. Here’s what “finding your why” might really mean.

You’re Driven By What You’re Doing Beyond The Short Term

Somelong entrepreneurs start businesses because they had an idea that they thought would help them make a quick buck, so they’re investing the work for the short-term ROI. Maybe for others, they’re continuing at the pace their businesses have been moving at because it’s comfortable for now and gets the bills paid. However, when it comes to pursuing the “why,” the danger is in thinking just in the “for now.” In the absence of a “why” for what you’re doing, it’s impossible to think long term because it feels discouraging to do so. You’re short-term oriented if you aren’t rooted in your purpose.

When you think of what you’re currently doing, do you imagine continuing the work years into the future? Does that excite you? Take stock of your overall long-term plan and how it unites with what you’re doing now or what you want to do. Your “why” can’t just be achieving fame, money, or success. It needs to be something more sustainable. In the wise words of Jim Carrey in a commencement speech address, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” Beyond the money in your account or the number of followers you have, what will still keep your flame going in a decade?

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You Genuinely Believe What You’re Doing Can Help Others

There is no “why” quite like serving others. In fact, humans are hardwired to want to serve others: believing that we have something of value to give makes us feel that we belong. You’ll find infinitely more satisfaction and fulfillment in offering something of value to others than just succeeding for your own personal gain. This also means connecting to what it is that you’re doing and, in many cases, selling. Erik Fisher is a top sales consultant and the founder of the Intelligent Sales Secrets Academy and says that a top component of success is in mindset, and mindset is composed by understanding your “why” for what you’re selling.

This can be distilled down to what it is that you are currently doing or selling. Finding your “why” doesn’t always have to mean finding your one, all-encompassing life’s purpose that you’ll do forever. Sometimes, it just means inserting some understanding and connection to what you’re doing right now. “If you’re selling a program or a product, connect to WHY you believe a customer or client should buy. What benefits will they get from it? How will it change their life or better some aspect of it?” posed Fisher. Becoming motivated by this form of helping others will lead to more sales success – and more of your personal happiness while you’re at it.

MORE FROM FORBES3 Reasons Many Of The World’s Most Booming Businesses Come From Humble Beginnings

You Light Up When Working

It sounds cheesy, but there’s also an element of ‘lighting up’ when you do something that’s connected to your “why.” You may find many purposes throughout your life, rather than one main ‘calling’ that you must find in order to achieve true fulfillment and happiness. In the recent Disney movie, ‘Soul,’ there’s a poignant moment in which the main character realizes life is not just about finding this one holy grail of a purpose, but finding a “why” within the smaller moments. As business owners, we will always have menial tasks we want to push off, and we’ll always hit ruts. It’s natural. But if we can find some thread of passion or “why” within it, it will keep us going.

Ultimately, finding your “why” is finding your rocket fuel to keep going when the entrepreneurship journey gets tough. Whether that’s finding purpose within one client relationship, one project, or one really great afternoon of deep focus work, your “why” will always be within reach – and should be prioritized in big and small ways.

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