Have you ever known someone who had a habit they wanted to kick or a skill they wanted to improve? And have you ever seen a person struggle in the pursuit of such change—either coming up short of their goals or becoming complacent—not making any progress at all?
Often, this happens because there’s no reason why behind their pursuit. That is, a person might say they want change, but they haven’t sat down and honestly explored why they want to change. And when they move forward without a “WHY,” they’ll quit the moment things become difficult. After all, they won’t have a reason to persevere through any adversity that stands in their way!
As Ron Alford—Senior Partner and Vice President of Recruiting at Southwestern Consulting—discussed during our recent Mastermind webinar, your “WHY” is the glue that holds you to your habits (and it’s the key to redefining what’s possible in your life). If you’re struggling to sincerely understand your reason for doing something, try the following exercises to define your “WHY.”
1. Answer Some Basic (but Potentially Challenging) Questions
Sit down and figure out why it’s important to achieve what you want to achieve. Ask yourself these questions to get started:
- What do you want to achieve? (For example, is there a new habit or skill you want to develop? Or is there a goal you’d like to reach?)
- Why is achieving that important?
- Who will you impact—that is, who will win or lose based on your success?
- Do you truly want to change?
That last question is important. If you’ve ever known someone who has struggled to quit smoking, you probably know that truly wanting to change is the biggest factor contributing to success. So, be honest when you answer this question. If you’re struggling to really want something, dive deeper into why you do or don’t want to succeed.
2. Ask Yourself: Why Not?
It might help to think of your “WHY” from another angle: What happens if you don’t succeed? This can help you visualize what you stand to gain or lose by committing to your goals.
3. Think Short- and Long-Term
During the webinar, Ron talked about mental power and explained, “you can only achieve what you conceive.”
Spend some time thinking about what you want to achieve and what the process of reaching your goals could be. If you can anticipate challenges, you’ll be prepared for them.
As you dive into this exercise, think short- and long-term. Break things down into the smallest steps possible, and write some micro “WHYs” to really fortify your reasons for moving forward.
4. Don’t Aim for “Normal”
Wanting to be “good enough” will never be good enough to sustain lasting change. Your “WHY’ needs to surpass the average. Otherwise, it will be tempting to get complacent and fall prey to other limitations that can inhibit your growth.
Not wanting to stand out can be very comforting, but it’s a major threat to unlocking your full potential. Setting the bar at “normal” can make it difficult to accomplish anything remarkable. Once you hit whatever you imagine to be average, there’s no reason to do better, right? Average might be enough to get the job done, but it can also be a hindrance to achieving anything remarkable in life.
Setting the bar at “normal” can make it difficult to accomplish anything remarkable.
5. Don’t Let Other People Define Your “WHY”
Only you should be the source of your “WHY.” It’s easy to let external sources, such as friends, family members, and coworkers, explain why you should do something. If you accept someone else’s reason without deeply analyzing it, you may not have the concrete “WHY” needed to overcome challenges. Plus, other people may have a reason for you doing something that doesn’t align with your own dreams or measures of success.
6. Start Small
You don’t have to start with a huge, grandiose “WHY” that will take a lifetime to accomplish. Your motivator can be something small—in fact, it can be something as simple as, “I want to make a bigger impact” (though it’s helpful to be more specific). The important thing is that your “WHY” must keep pushing you forward, one step at a time, ensuring you’re always progressing.
Join Us for Our Next Webinar
Our Monthly Mastermind Webinars are open to all current Southwestern Coaching clients! If you have not yet registered for this interactive, live training series, email [email protected] or contact your coach for more information. Also, check out Ron’s new book, Redefining Possible, and sign up to attend the Redefining Possible virtual book tour—an 8-part webinar series featuring inspiring guests who have learned what it really means to live out their “WHY.”