For many years, pop psychologists and personal development gurus have espoused the importance of finding one’s why as the first course of action in achieving anything worthwhile.
Author Simon Sinek most recently brought this to the forefront with his books Find Your Why and the earlier Start with Why, but Sinek is by no means the first to shine the spotlight on this topic. Leadership consultant and author JB Symons’ Getting to Why is another example of this idea at play, which is basically a riff on the age-old search for purpose – and the material abounds from Epicurus to Maslow to the present day.
If you are low on funds and have kids to feed, then your why is blatantly obvious. You need to get your hands on the means to feed them. This usually means money but in the short term, most folks have relatives or friends who can step in to fill those bellies. That being said, this is an issue that needs immediate attention, and is not really what we’re talking about here.
Finding your why might include things like giving hope to others through a personal story, moving people with your music, bringing a useful product or service to the marketplace, leaving a legacy or making enough money to ensure your children have a better upbringing than you did. Your why might center on putting yourself in the position to be able to feed the bellies mentioned above and then some.
Your why might be to prove others wrong or to amass a fortune so that you could thumb your nose at the people who told you that you would never amount to anything.
But wait. Does achievement really need to hinge on a meaningful why for it to happen?
Do you have something you’ve been putting off doing until “someday?” That’s a dangerous game.
You might die tomorrow. You might die tonight.
But one thing is for sure. You’re going to die.
Get in touch with the version of yourself that came up with that idea. That person was excited – if only for a moment. You set aside your idea for “someday,” but although the years (or decades for some of us) have continued their inexorable march, you still carry that idea with you. Perhaps you have seen similar ideas come to fruition in the meantime. Instead of lamenting that it’s too late and that somebody beat you to it, consider for a moment that you were on the right track – and there’s always room for your contribution.
If we are going to die anyway, why not go after that one idea from your youth – that one flash of inspiration you experienced in the shower last week or that lyric that jolted you awake with its brilliance last night.
If you are breathing, there is still time.
Do the thing. You will be glad you did.