“It’s never too late to be what you may have been”Mary Ann Evans, known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, poet, journalist, translator and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era.
Do you find yourself anxious, afraid, panicking right now?
Days going by not being able to do anything, forgetful, or eating your way through the fridge to calm down? It happens to me too. We have too many unknowns to deal with right now. Our minds spin out of control. Tension builds in our bodies. Alarming news fill every minute of our days. Confronted with a new level of stress and anxiety in our already overburdened lives, we try to figure out a way out.
In the midst of this chaos, I see a silver lining—an opportunity to take a pause and find something deeper inside us. Our purpose and meaning can help us get through these challenging times and make us stronger.
A sense of purpose has been known to improve physical and mental well-being. Can you reframe these difficult times with a new lens by connecting deeper with yourself and your purpose? Can you turn pain into transformation and make more sense of your life?
In his book “Life on Purpose,” Victor Stretcher who lost his 19-year old daughter to a sudden heart attack in 2010, discusses how the strength of one’s purpose can be measured and even directly correlated with wellness and longevity.
For years, I have worked on identifying and connecting with my purpose. By getting grounded in my values, I realized that I needed to pivot my career from a digital marketing strategist to creating the Unhustle Movement. Now, in the midst of challenging times, I find myself connecting even more in-depth with my values for why I started my new company in the first place. I seek ways to be of service to my community. My values of courage, simplicity, well-being, joy, and purpose have been truly tested. And they have become my true North in these uncertain times.
For 20+ years, I advised companies to have a more substantial online presence to reach more people. Then, almost overnight, it happened. I see people and companies finding ways to go online to connect with their communities. They quickly overcame all the opposition they had before as to why they couldn’t do it. They connected with their WHY.
I see yoga teachers doing classes online. I see meditators and mindfulness teachers offering free workshops. I see companies providing free resources, online workshops, and seminars to their communities. We are all connecting with our purpose for starting our businesses in the first place. When you connect with your purpose, your most fundamental reason for being, there are no challenges that will stand in the way.
We live in extraordinary times, and we are only human. Some days even our compelling WHY can lose its strength a little.
“The dynamic process of aligning yourself with your life purpose requires energy and willpower: wind in your sails to move you forward, and a strong rudder to prevent being blown off course,” writes Victor Stretcher.
So, where do I get my energy and willpower to stay connected to my purpose?
Meditation and mindfulness practices, reading, doing QiGong and yoga, exercising, writing, and creating resources for my community. I pay extra attention to healthy living right now – making sure I get enough sleep, proper nutrition, and time away from technology.
It’s easy to let my mind spin out of control and “What Ifs” scenarios. We can wrap ourselves in thoughts and create stories and narratives that are not true. When that happens, I go to the couch and meditate. I spend as long as it takes focusing on my breathing to calm my mind. I get grounded. I feel at peace. I know that at this moment, I’m OK. I scan my body. I breathe into every single cell. And then I ask myself, what is the one most important thing I can do today? And I focus only on that one thing.
I enter into a state of flow; time becomes still, my mind entirely focused; everything else becomes quiet in the background. With the outside world turned off, my attention focuses on my one thing. My mind is still. I feel fulfilled. I connect with my mission to help other people. I share my message with the world to inspire people to find courage, simplicity, joy, well-being, and purpose.
Stress melts away. I feel complete.
What is your WHY?
Finding Your Why Exercise
Here are a few exercises to complete to find your why. Some of these ideas are from Simon Sinek’s book: “Find Your Why.”
- Look at your entire life, all the way back to when you were born. Dig deep. Jot down life stories you recall, those defining moments of your life. What are the top 5 stories that have influenced you the most and had the most impact on other people? Are there any patterns in your stories? Write them down. “At its core, the WHY is an origin story. By looking to our past and teasing out the most significant threads—the experiences we’ve had, the people we’ve been influenced by, the lives we’ve touched, and the highs and lows we’ve faced—we can identify patterns.”
2. When you look at these five stories, what are the themes? Is there something connecting all these stories into one? These themes become the foundation for your WHY.
“Each of us has only one WHY. It’s not a statement about who we aspire to be; it expresses who we are when we are at our natural best.”Simon Sinek
3. Write down your why, hows and whats, following the following guidelines from Simon:
“Our WHY is our purpose, cause or belief—the driving force behind everything we do.
Our HOWs are the actions we take when we are at our natural best to bring our WHY to life.
Our WHATs are the tangible manifestation of our WHY, the actual work we do every day.”Simon Sinek
Sometimes, it’s hard to come up with your WHY. If you feel stuck, do the 5 Why’s Exercise below.
The 5 Why’s Exercise
Ask yourself “Why” 5 times. It’s a quick exercise to help you get to the true reason, the deep-down reason that will keep the fire inside. Some examples of Why’s include:
- Why does it matter?
- Why is it important?
- Why now?
- Why you?
- Why do you get out of bed in the morning, and what keeps you up at night?
Here’s an example of how you can use this.
You want to exercise every day.
Why? So you lose 5 pounds.
Why? So you can have more energy.
Why? So you can play with your kids outside after work.
Why? So you can have a deeper relationship with them.
Why? So you can be a part of their future for longer and go on to change the world with them in the most amazing ways.
What feels better? Exercise every day or the idea that you will be a part of your children’s future and will go on to change the world with them?
Write down your WHY Statement. Keep it to one sentence. Short and simple. Use the following format: To_______________(contribution) So That ________________________(impact).
Keep tweaking your statement until you are happy with the words and can say it to anyone you meet.
Example: Here’s my WHY and HOWS with the Unhustle Movement.
WHY: To inspire and awaken people to shift their perspective about how they view work and pivot from living a one-dimensional life to living a multi-dimensional life so that together we can save our humanity.
- Challenge the status quo
- Shift perspectives
- Inspire courage
- Keep it simple
- Walk the talk
Knowing your why is the secret to living a fulfilling life. And there’s no better time than the present to define your why. It will change your life.