One of the keys to understanding who we are is to understand why we do what we do.
What is your why? I have many clients interested in answering this question. The more we’ve worked together, and the more I’ve worked on my own “why,” the more I see that this question is difficult to answer, but incredibly important to how we live our lives. When we know our motivation for doing things, we are more likely to wake up eager to enter the day. We make a bigger impact with our time, and can make stronger connections with others. We make decisions more quickly and with more clarity when we know what motivates us.
To start finding our why, we might consider these two things:
1. Our strengths: What are you naturally good at? What comes easily to you? If you aren’t sure, you can also ask friends, family and/or colleagues for what they see as your strengths.
2. Our values: What matters to you? What is most important?
For example, one of my strengths is that I am and have always been a very curious person. I probably wouldn’t be very happy in a job that didn’t allow me to use that tendency.
One of my values is that I believe we should hear from many voices. If I am helping to support that value in my work, I am likely to feel strongly motivated to do my best work each day.
Looking carefully at these two aspects of ourselves, strengths and values, is the beginning of figuring out our motivations. We might also ask ourselves at which moments in our lives have we felt we were doing our best work, or feeling like our best selves. What were we bringing to that moment? Was there a “why” involved?
Asking these questions is the start of finding the why. Usually, our deeper motivation lies below our first answers. For example, I know I want voices to be heard, but if I look deeper I can ask, why do I want that? Was there a time in my life when I didn’t feel heard? Was I affected by someone else’s experience of not being heard?
I encourage everyone to spend some time sorting out the why, and feeling the grounding, focusing effect of knowing what motivates you.
For more on this subject, you might also take a look at the work of Simon Sinek, author of the book, Start With Why.