Have you ever given any thought to your “Why?”
Last Wednesday I was fortunate enough to sit down with a doctor in Shelby, NC and talk. During that talk he brought up a point that I have heard iterated a million times, but the way he expressed his thoughts changed my view of having purpose.
He described having purpose as “knowing my Why. If I know my Why then I never get off track-I never stray from my path.” I know my Why: To add value to the world around me. I live my mission daily and have written about adding value to life often. It guides my actions. It guides my mind. It shapes my decisions. My question for you is…Do you know your Why? And more importantly, are you living your Why?
This might seem like an easy question to some, but you might be surprised at the number of people who live each and every day without a life mission. Is it important? Does it have an impact on our lives? I believe the answer to both questions is yes. I scoured the internet for a statistical number to associate with my question and the answers varied wildly from .06%-19% of the world’s population who live with a mission-know their Why. Even if the high number is the default, that leaves 81% of the people in the world walking around each day without knowing their Why.
This type of thinking might be a western thought and may have little relevancy in other parts of the world. For instance, the nomadic herder in a third-world country might not have a philosophical answer, yet understands his mission is to keep his flock alive in order to provide for his family. I understand that my culture not only creates such a question but most certainly shapes my answer. But with that understanding, I still believe we all are on this planet for a reason, I believe it is important to know that reason and I believe knowing your Why has many important influences on your life.
First, knowing your Why keeps you on track. When you know your purpose in life you can use that purpose as your personal mission statement. Any time you have a decision to make you bounce your choices off of your Why. Are they in sync? Are they in conflict? Does the choice you are about to make support your overall Why? Without the Why it is easy to end up climbing a latter leaning against the wrong wall.
Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind. Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Secondly, knowing your Why brings fulfillment. Nothing brings more fulfillment and joy than living your life in accordance with your life’s mission. There are many people who try to fake being fulfilled, but it is like trying to fake a smile. It is obvious to everyone but the person faking.
Thirdly, knowing your Why makes life more fun. Life is simply more enjoyable when you know who you are, where you are going and what you want to achieve.
Fourth, knowing your Why influences others in a positive way. There is something about knowing your Why that draws people like flies to honey. I always think of it as the light on the hill shining at night. When people see a light in the darkness they cannot help but want to know the source of the light. The light speaks without using words and draws people to the source. Once someone is exposed to another who has purpose they cannot help but be intrigued.
Fifth, knowing your Why lets you easily determine what is important versus what is not. Once you know your mission the frivolous things in life are easier to cast off. Buddha stated that desire is the downfall of mankind and I believe this. I know my mission and I also know what is truly important in life for me. Therefore I don’t waste my energy on things and/or PEOPLE who do not edify my mission. This might be tough for some to read, but I can tell you not every person deserves your time and energy.
Sixth, knowing your Why provides a constant source of motivation and inspiration. Imagine it like having an unlimited supply of energy for your fuel tank! Sure there will be times when you are tired, but I can attest to the fact that knowing your Why provides a constant, unyielding supply of inspiration and motivation. And this source cannot be contrived. It will drag you through the tough times like no other.
Lastly, knowing your Why brings with it achievement. There is nothing for me that makes me smile more than achieving my personal goals. Obviously, I have based my entire blog on goal-achievement and developing the proper set of habits to reach those goals. Knowing my Why is the one thing that drives me and allows me to achieve. Before I accepted my purpose I was lost and my achievements were few and far between. But not my life is like having a gun at a shooting range-I’m picking off targets right-and-left.
I don’t believe it is difficult to know your life’s purpose. If you sit still and remain quiet long enough you will realize your purpose was there all along. Some know their purpose but refuse to identify with it, while some are not ready to accept their mission. Many keep themselves too busy and don’t stand still long enough to listen to a voice that has been trying to speak for many years.