Why Dad, Why?
Last week I posted Get Moving… Is that it? It was the first in a series designed to help you create the positive momentum you need for success. In it, we discussed creating a detailed plan for achieving your goals. Today’s post is the second installment and focuses on answering the “why” of your goals as a first step.
My daughter Paige is an amazing young woman. She is incredibly focused, hard-working, talented, funny and full of life. Aside from her loving and supportive parents, I attribute much of her growth and development to her curiosity. For as long as I can remember Paige has naturally leveraged her curiosity to help make sense of her world, learn, grow and forge her path. Today she is almost 17, yet I can still hear my tenacious toddler incessantly asking, “why Dad, why?”. “Why do I have to got to bed?” or “Why is that person smoking?”, and while teaching her to eat fresh Maine lobster she queries “Why don’t we eat the shell Daddy?!” Later, her questions matured yet retained their intention, “Dad, why are so many people so passionate about the Presidential election?” and “Why is there so much division [in our country]?”
Answering “why” is more than an exercise in learning. It’s what grounds us, it provides context and helps to clarify our motivation. Today, Paige has answered her “why” and is pursuing her dream of dance at a performing arts high school. Her years of sacrifice – homeschooling, extended hours at the studio, the occasional forfeit of an outing with friends all make sense… they make sense because she understands why she is doing what she’s doing. Paige has made the sacrifices in order to become the best dancer that she can possibly be; to be the best version of herself. She loves to perform and is very gratified when she shares her gift with others. Also, she has been given some amazing opportunities and wants to make the most of those opportunities to develop her craft. These answers to her “why” serve as her foundation and motivation and keep her focused on her goal.
Let’s suppose you identify the goal of earning a promotion within the next twelve months – great! Your detailed plan includes targeted networking events, resume mailings, informational interviews and sundry popular job-hunting activities. You are Psyched and you are committed to achieving this goal however, you don’t take the time to understand why you are pursuing this goal. Let’s see if you can guess what happens…
Week 1 – you attend two networking events, make three contacts, disseminate 50 resume’s and identify one firm that you are interested in exploring. Solid results for sure!
Week 2 – you are tired when you get home from work, but you still manage to send out ten resumes and secure two informational interviews from your efforts the previous week. Not bad.
Week 3 – you have company from out-of-state and don’t attend any networking events, send five resumes and your informational interviews rescheduled at the last-minute
See the pattern? Your motivation is dwindling because you have nothing to serve as your anchor; your motivation; your focus.
Let’s take the same goal of earning a promotion within the next twelve months. This time you clearly identify why you are pursuing this goal:
- to take the next step in your career that includes more money and responsibility
- to save for a family vacation
- to pay off your car loan
- to start a college fund for your child
Each of these answers will serve you well. They will motivate you when you are discouraged, they will focus you when you are distracted and they will help move you forward when you feel “stuck”. They will increase chances of success exponentially!
When answering the “whys” of your goal. They should be discovered by you (not by your friend, your spouse or your mother!), written down by you and reviewed regularly you. When you discover, write down and review your “whys” they become real and you own and internalize those motivators. Furthermore, they remain in the forefront of your mind and your goal.
So, when you set a goal, first challenge your thinking and leverage your curiosity to answer the question of why you are pursuing the goal. These important motivators will help you stay-the-course and succeed!