It’s Not What, It’s Why: A Guide To Figuring Out What You Want

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I don’t know what to do.

How many times have you heard someone you know say this and then use it as an excuse to not do anything at all?  

I even catch myself doing it sometimes.  The problem is that it’s not really about not knowing what to do.  It’s more about focusing on why something needs to be done in the first place.

Take this week for example.  Even though I quit my day job a month ago, this is the first week home with the girls that doesn’t have some weird event going on.  That means that the past month of adjustments has been slow because we’re not really sure how our schedules will work out – trying to find time to work is a lot harder now that the girls are not in daycare and that has been made even more difficult by the erratic schedule.

And as the business ramps up, there are approximately 5 million things on my to-do list and I only really know how to do half of them.  For a while it was invigorating but this week the reality of just how much I need to do and have to learn hit me like Mack truck.  I stalled.  I found myself wasting time because I just didn’t know what to do.

But then I realized I was focusing on the wrong thing.  It’s not what I need to do, but why I need to do it.  With that in mind, I gathered my thoughts, got a plan together and am now back on track.

It’s easy to get bogged down on what if you forget or ignore why.   

Do you want a new career?  More money?  More time?  Less stress?  Less worry?

Ask yourself why.

If you don’t know why, you won’t have any motivation to keep going when it gets hard.  And it will get hard.  

Trust me.

631_whyThe Real Reason Why

At first it seems like it should be easy to figure out why you want to do something – after all, you do want to do it…don’t you?  Actually, I have found that sometimes that’s not true for me.  That I don’t actually want the things I thought I wanted, or I do – but not for the reasons I originally thought.

Do you know anyone who is always talking about how she wishes she could spend more time with her kids?  But then when you see her with her kids she is at her wit’s end and her kids are out of control.  Doesn’t that make you wonder why she wants to spend more time with her kids?  Perhaps she doesn’t actually want to spend more time with them; she wants to spend more quality time with them.  These are two entirely different things, and cannot be solved using the same approach.

Or, think of someone you know who has a small business.  They frantically run around juggling several different hats and dealing with the added stress of being responsible for a company’s outcome.  Thinking about how hard it is, I doubt that your friend got into it because they actually wanted to work for themselves.  Working for yourself is actually a huge pain in the ass at times…but, the freedom your friend enjoys because they don’t report to anyone makes all of those hard days worth it. 

What is your real reason why?

Maybe you want to travel to Ireland or cook gourmet meals or be independently wealthy.  Perhaps you want to watch less t.v or take on a new project.  Whatever it is, ask yourself why.  If this is something you really truly desire, you should be able to feel it.  You should feel driven to complete it – like you can’t focus on anything else.

If you can’t feel it, maybe you don’t really want it (at least right now) – and that’s okay.  Don’t waste any more time trying to force yourself to do something you just don’t care about when there are so many other things you could be doing.

What is it that you want to do?  Think about why you want to do that?  Now think of your life 10 years from now if you don’t do that thing.  How does it make you feel?  Will you be disappointed in yourself, your success, your achievements?  Will the one thing that bothers you so badly now, still be a bother to you then?

It doesn’t have to be.  But you do have to determine why you care about that thing in the first place.  Only then will you be able to follow through and complete your goal.

Remember, it’s not ‘what’ that drives you.  It’s why.  If you don’t know why, you won’t know what.  So focus on why.


Before you go,  please answer this question in the comments.  What drives you to do the thing you want to do, even when you don’t want to do it?  I read every response and I can’t wait to hear about your why.

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