Knowing how to find your why is the first step to doing meaningful work.
When it comes to doing work that is meaningful, fulfilling, and purposeful, you need one thing above anything else: You need to find your “why.”
The concept of “finding your why” became popular with Simon Sinek’s book and Ted Talk, “Start With Why.” is a good place to start. In a nutshell, your why is your purpose or the reason behind what you do.
Think of your why as your personal mission statement. It’s a brief, one-sentence summary statement that you can easily say and that others can understand and relate to.
So how do you find your why?
Your why statement describes your vision for your life, the world, and what you hope to achieve through your work.
Your “why” is the overarching reason behind you do what you do. It’s the umbrella under which your work falls. (Don’t confuse your why with your core message. That is a message that is more tangible and specific; while your why is more aspirational and general.)
Taking time to find your why is an important exercise, especially if you want to do meaningful work.
Your why serves as a guiding light
Being able to articulate your “why” or your purpose is important for two reasons:
- It grounds you: Your “why” serves as the foundation for all that you do.
- It inspires you: Your “why” serves as a guiding light that connects you to your vision and where you want to go.
When you find your “why” in business, these things happen:
- You connect to your big vision for yourself and for your work.
- You can better articulate your vision, which in turn helps you articulate that to the world.
- You know what you’re aiming for, so you can keep your mind on your mission, even in times of uncertainty.
- You find it easier to stay motivated, keep going and doing the work.
- You’re tied into a purpose that is much bigger than you. You know what you hope to achieve through your work and how that serves the world.
Even though the “how” of your work may change over time, your “why” likely will not change.
Questions to ask yourself to find your why in business
So often people start businesses or careers without stopping to ask themselves why it is they’re doing it in the first place.
Here are a few questions that can help you find your why in business.
- What do you want to be known for?
- What’s your overall vision?
- What drives you?
- Why are you doing this work in the first place?
- What is it you hope to achieve through your work?
Don’t worry, if you’ve never thought about this before it can seem daunting. You might not answer these overnight.
What if you still don’t know your why?
If you’re struggling with finding your why or answering the questions above, try meditating, asking for guidance, and daily journaling on the topic.
You might also see what inspires you about your work and about life in general, and what brings you true happiness.
Finding your why is the first and arguably the most important step in starting a purpose-driven business.
I regularly take clients through this exercise as part of the coaching process. We find your why first, because it sets the stage for so many other business activities.
If you’re curious to learn more about coaching with me, you can sign up for a free consult here.
Great post! Your why is so important, and as a branding designer it’s one of the things I love discussing with my clients. Finding out why they do what they do and what they hope to achieve can give so much insight and influence the style of the designs.
Thanks, Fiona! I love that you discuss it with clients in your branding work as well!