Feeling Lost, Frustrated, or Just Blah With Work?
This will help.
Along the way to making money and providing for our families, we’ve lost the sense of why we’re doing what we’re doing. Going to work is becoming less exciting. It’s affecting our energy. We’re waking up a little slower, taking the kids to school, dealing with clients, and shuffling between work and everyday life. What once may have been exciting and new has now become more of a burden. And part of the reason why we feel the way we do is because we’ve lost touch with the most important aspect of anything we ever do. The why.
The why is what gets us through our toughest moments, good and bad. A divorce? Because our spouse was no longer as invested in the partnership. A college degree? Because we want to get a level of education that will give us the career opportunities we want. A new car? Because it drives smoother and makes us feel like we’re living in luxury.
Several years ago, Simon Sinek coined the Golden Circle, a model for how we make decisions, behave, and act. It’s a three-layered circle, with the core being the “Why.” The why is what drives the next layer of “How” to the outermost layer of “What.” He emphasizes that the “Why” is singlehandedly the only thing we need to define in order to make greater strides in our lives because it is the fuel, the fire, the anchor to any endeavor we may make as humans.
Simon said this. “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.“
A powerful example (in his talk and in technological history) is Apple. Back in the 80s, Apple was only known for building computers: the Macintosh. Apple transcended its market as a computer manufacturer to become a globalized innovator in electronics. Their motto “Think Different” has created customer loyalty for decades. And it was all because of the why influenced the what: to make products simple and beautiful.
Today, we still buy into why companies do what they do. Patagonia because they’re committed to building high-quality products while serving the environment. Ikea because they create a better everyday life for many people. Simon pointed out that “people will do things to prove what they believe.” So, we’ll buy their products or seek after their career opportunities to show that we believe what these companies believe. We support their mission because of our shared values.
At times when we feel that slump in energy, that lowered enthusiasm, that sort of confusion in not knowing exactly what to do in our working life, what we’re really missing is our “Why.” If we’d like to truly impact the way that we’re working or running our business, we have to do some digging and ask the tough questions. We want answers. The good news is that if we’re able to sit down with ourselves and reflect, change will slowly start to show.
I’ve spent years collaborating with brands on strategy, conducting the research involved to identify and uncover the decision-making emotional drivers, and then articulating the Why in a way that resonates with their target audience. It’s not only important for brands. It is important for us as individuals. Here are a few questions that can help you get a head start on finding your “Why.” These questions are more focused on you as an individual, but let’s not forget that it is you that contributes effort and drive to whatever you’re working on; maybe it’s starting your own business, mentoring and developing your team, managing your projects, or how you relate to clients. These questions will help to get the dialogue going.
1) What makes you forget to eat and poop?
This one’s from Mark Manson, the guy who wrote The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. I will not lie, the title of the book and the number of times the profanity was said, initially turned me off. The underlying message though was on point. If you prefer, try some of Mark’s great articles and blog posts. Life Purpose is a favorite.
2) What kind of conversations do you have with your closest friends?
Amy Johnson from Lifehack makes a good point. We’re more likely to tell our closest friends the truth and risk being vulnerable around them. What better way to get closer to your most authentic self (why you bought that $400 dress or quit your job) than to pay attention to your conversations with them? There are a few truths you can discover there.
3) What is the most rewarding thing that you’ve ever done for someone else? Why was it rewarding?
This one. This one is good. What deed that was not done for yourself made you feel a little lighter for the rest of the day? What about it was great? There’s something in that answer that translates into the type of work you enjoy doing for other people and how that will contribute to a better working experience. I found this question at 5 Questions to Find Your Life Purpose by Alice Hoekstra.
4) What thrills you about your current job role or career?
Although we might feel bogged down by the day to day happenings, there are always the little things at work that might spark the teensiest of joys. If you’re able to catch a glimpse of that, maybe you’re on to something. Mel wrote a few other follow up questions on Goalcast if this is up your alley.
5) What moments in your life have been the hardest? Why?
I’m going back to Alice’s article on Thrive Global because this question tackles the roots of our life experiences. She said that “the hardest things in life become the things we want to change in the world” and I couldn’t agree more. If you’re feeling as if you’re drifting away from your work and becoming less connected, digging deeper with these questions could start an interesting dialogue. By finding your own “why,” you’ll be able to strengthen your relationship with your business and work as an extension of who you are as an individual.
Other helpful resources!
Hubspot’s Inspiring Company Mission Statements
Here’s the Secret to Creating a Mission Statement That Works (and How to Get Started)
Simon Sinek | What’s Your “Why” and Where Do You Find It?
Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle