“If purpose is bigger than pain, then purpose wins.”
— Michael Gervais
What’s Your Big Why?
On a piece of paper or in the workbook for this course, reflect on the things you do consistently in life and why you do them, identify the common themes that emerge, and use these insights to craft your personal why statement.
- Write down all the things you consistently do in life. Consider the things you voluntarily do and look forward to doing, the things that fulfill you and that you derive personal satisfaction from doing. Consider your career activities (or aspirations) that give meaning to your life. Consider what activities you are passionate about doing and the outcomes you want to achieve. You may have up to a dozen activities you’ve listed at this point.
- Below each item in your list, write down why you do them. These can be bullet points that complete the statement, I do them to… Move beyond general statements such as “to have fun.” You obviously do the activities because you love doing them and they bring you satisfaction, but why? What is it about those activities that you find fulfilling? How do those activities serve as vehicles for something meaningful to you? You may have up to a half dozen bullet points beneath each activity at this point.
- Identify the common themes in your list. Look over your list and highlight the common themes that keep appearing beneath each activity. What do your most consistent activities have in common? Pull these themes out into a new list so you can focus on them. Try to winnow this list down to focus on the one or two themes that are the most important to you.
- Write your personal why statement. Based on these themes you identified as most important to you and what you’ve learned from your reflections up to this point, draft several iterations of a why statement that encompasses who you are and why you do what you do in life. Writing down these iterations will help you think through how to concisely articulate your driving purpose in life.
Additional Steps. Once you’ve reflected and come up with an initial draft of your why statement, talk with a friend to get an outside perspective as described by Simon Sinek in the video below. Although your why is a constant in your adult life, it may take some time to fully articulate for yourself in words. The practical application described here is one way to help you with that process, but approach finding your why as an ongoing process rather than a one-time exercise. As you gain greater self-awareness, your “why” will come into clearer focus. The more self-awareness you have about what drives you in life, the easier it will be to connect your goals to that purpose.
The workbook provides templates for all of the practical applications in the course. Download here if you haven’t already:
- Practical Application Workbook (Google Doc)
Below is an example of what I came up with when I did this exercise.