Start With Why
“Everything I do is to improve myself and others. I believe true happiness occurs with a sense of purpose, and my purpose is to to enhance the life of every person I come in contact with. The main way I have chosen to do this is through servitude. Specifically, my entire adult life (all 10 years of it) has been spent in the service industry–whether serving my country as a medic in the United States military, assisting my community as a volunteer, or helping individuals as a mentor, a fitness and nutrition coach, and a friend.”Dee’s Mission Statement
This is my “Why.” What’s yours?
“All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year.” –Simon Sinek
If large organizations like Apple, Inc. and The J.M. Smucker Company can be superior by creating a culture that keeps their “why” clear, surely individuals can do the same. This article will help you discover your “why” so you, too, can be great.
Everyone has a “Why.” What’s yours?
I have always been inquisitive. When my parents asked me to pull the trees they called “weeds” growing in our forest, my response was “why?” As a young, adorable soldier, I wanted to know the importance of me sweeping the streets and filling and emptying sandbags. When my professors would assign homework, I questioned the reason. DEEspite my leaders’ frustration at times, I needed to understand I was doing something for a greater cause. Purpose drives me to fulfill my duty with excellence.
What is your reason for getting up in the morning?
What are you passionate about?
What are your values, goals, and beliefs?
How do you identify yourself?
Have you ever taken the time to answer these questions? If you haven’t, no need to fret; you are not alone. Sadly, many people, Americans especially, live their entire lives without thinking “What do I hope to achieve in life? What’s my purpose for living?” Understanding your intention, cause, or belief is important to keep you inspired and moving forward.
“Knowing your WHY gives you a filter to make choices… that will help you find greater fulfillment in all that you do. ”–Simon Sinek
When was the last time you woke up in the morning excited and inspired to make the most of your day? If it wasn’t this morning, YOU ARE WRONG (dawn the command hand).
In all seriousness, life is better when you have a reason for waking up in the morning. If you haven’t figured out your purpose, do it now.
Figure Out Your Purpose
- Disconnect from the world. Turn off all your electronics and anything else that will distract you.
- Sit down with a pen and some paper, and answer these questions.
- What are your priorities? What’s truly important to you? The answer here is not what you want to be important. The answer usually lies with how you spend your time and money.
- How do you identify yourself? How do you describe yourself to others? Is it by your job? Your family? Your religion?
- What are your general beliefs about yourself? About others? About the world around you? Are these your beliefs or someone else’s?
- What do you want to accomplish in your lifetime? When you are lying on your deathbed, how do you want others to remember you?
- Be open and honest with yourself, and don’t judge yourself or your answers.
The answers you produce here will give you insight into your mind and can give you drive for waking up in the morning, for staying in (or leaving) your career, and to help you live healthier. These answers will help you live your fullest potential and allow you to lead and inspire others to do the same.
Keep Your “Why” Clear
“Goals without gravity have no weight.”–Precision Nutrition
When I DEEcided to let my military contract expire after seven years of service, I was lost. I tried to hide my darkness by occupying my time with school, learning new skills, and meeting new people. I socialized enough to fool the outside world to see me as “normal;” however, internally, I felt alone, ashamed, and misplaced. It didn’t take long for me to turn to some pretty unhealthy habits to occupy my time and attention. Regrettably, my actions hurt a few people along the way, including myself.
I was living my life without purpose; I had no direction. There was no driving force pushing me to live a healthy, happy life.
This changed when I began participating in a local wellness project titled “Wellness Wednesdays” where students went into the community and taught the overly appreciative, underprivileged members of our society how to live healthier. In return, they reminded the importance of living the simple life of appreciation and love.
Wednesday quickly became my favorite day of the week. I fell in love with these residents and felt like I had purpose once again. Wellness Wednesday lit the path I continue to travel–the one to help anyone I can. (Side note: Wednesdays are still my favorite day of the week).
Since leaving the military, I have found purpose in 2 ways: Through coaching people to improve their lives and through community service. Servitude excites me to wake up every morning at 0500 and live my life in excellence, knowing I am contributing to building a stronger community.
Now that you understand your purpose, it is important to keep that purpose at the forefront of your mind. Your “why” will keep you grounded. It will challenge every action. It will strengthen you and push you forward and when life throws its the inevitable barriers your way.
There are ways to keep your “why” clear in your mind. My approach is the following:
How To Keep Your “Why” Clear
- Create your personal mission statement using your responses to the questions above. You read mine at the beginning of this article.
- Write it down on paper, and put it somewhere you will see first thing in the morning. This could be your bathroom mirror, on your coffee pot, or your vehicle dashboard.
- Every morning, before you begin your day, read your mission out loud to yourself. Read it in a way that you believe with conviction what your purpose is.
- Periodically throughout your day, re-read that statement.
- Live your life in accordance with your mission.
Live with Intention
If you are still reading this, you must be serious about living life to your fullest potential. Or you are merely looking for all my grammatical errors. (see what I did there?)
“No one stumbles upon significance. We have to be intentional about making our lives matter. That calls for action – and not excuses.”–John Maxwell
Just like great businesses purposefully focus its actions around its mission and vision, we, too, must match our actions to our purpose and goals. This is called intentional living.
You become great by matching your behaviors to your values, identities, and goals. Every action you take and every thought you make should support your mission. Look for opportunities to act on your purpose.
You have no excuse strong enough to justify living a mediocre life. You are enough, and you do have the resources. Focus on what you can do and what you can control. Spend 10 percent of your effort seeking help in areas of weakness and 90 percent building upon areas of strength. Stay strong for you because you DEEserve to live a life of greatness.
Knowledge means very little without action. You understand your purpose; now go out and live a life that matters.
Dee’s Concluding Statement
The key to excellence is this:
- Figure out your purpose.
- Keep it in the forefront of your brain.
- Ensure everything you do is intentional and surrounded by your “why.”
Here’s to a a happy, purposeful life.
Maxwell, John C. Intentional Living: Choosing a Life That Matters. New York: Center Street, 2017. Print.
Sinek, Simon. “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” 2009, https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.
Additional Reading: Simon Sinek’s “Find Your Why”