You might have heard the popular sayings:
Come back to your why!
What’s your why?
Find your purpose!
I’ve been hearing it for years. But I’ve only recently made the connection. This is the way I see it: Passion is a day dream, but purpose is a S.M.A.R.T goal on your “life’s to-do list”. Passion is about doing something because you have an emotional connection to it. Purpose is direction and the reason for which something is done. Purpose is fuelled by reasoning and usually the reasoning is the answer to a why question.
It’s the answer to your why aka your why statement that gives you motivation to do what you do. Your why statement will be the reminder you need to keep moving in the direction of your purpose. For individuals your why statement is not only your purpose, it’s who you are, your cause, what you stand for or your belief. Of course many companies and organizations identify their why statement as a way to keep employees motivated in their work. So why shouldn’t individuals have a why statement for their lives?
Your individual why statement is evergreen. That means it makes sense and is applicable to any part of your life, whether that’s your career, your hobbies or your life overall. It is simple, actionable and expressed in affirmative language that resonates with you.
Employees who have identified their why statements are clear in their direction and therefore are more inspired to do the work they feel compelled to do.
Organizations who see this as a win will support employees and employees will be more engaged at work. I recently participated in an innovation program at work. The experience was both challenging and awakening.
Part of that awakening was determining my why statement. Here is an EASY exercise to find yours.
Tools: poster board, post its notes (standard size & few different colours), permanent markers, chart paper.
You don’t need any of these tools, but using actual paper products, pens and a wall helps your body and brain align and really get into this activity.
Step 1: Think about your life and brainstorm 5-10 times you felt most successful and then felt most challenged. Once you have these memories are listed (on your post it notes, piece of paper or word doc), review everything and try to notice any patterns. You may start to see some themes pop up like “team work”, “technology”, “lack of control” or “creativity” – the number of themes doesn’t but finding the themes does.
Step 2: Based on your themes, take note of your motivators. This will help you understand what your contribution to others lives will be and the value of those contributions
Step 3: Write your why statement with this format “To ____, so that _____”. The first blank is your contribution and the second blank is the impact of that contribution. This should come easily but also may be an iterative process (ie: write down your statement, then tweak it a bit, write it out again, change a little something and write it again – continue this process until you have something you feel good about).
Step 4: Share your why statement. Share it with your partner, your kids, your friends, your co-workers. Share it on twitter, on blogs, on IG and in whatsapp/teams/webex chats! It will be easy to share your why statement because it’s all you so there will be a level of pride and excitement.
And in the spirit of sharing, this is my why statement:
To create and lead an agile team, so that we build transformative solutions, achieve goals and inspire people.
Also it’s okay if you aren’t ready to share it or if you feel like the wording is a little off. Keep at it, you’ll get it to where it needs to be and be thrilled to share it with the world!