Finding Your Why Not

Back when I worked in a digital media agency, my coworkers and I frequently had discussions about how to create more value for the clients we worked for. Someone shared Simon Sinek's "The Golden Circle" with our group, and that was the first time I heard about finding your why.

I've moved away from the marketing world since then, but that lesson stuck with me. Starting with your "why" (your values) instead of your "what" (your career, your product, your hobbies) leads to a greater focus and better output.

Wherever I go, I still hear about "finding your why." It's a great guiding principle that I'm working on discovering (you can read about my new why for work and blogging here).

But what about finding your why not?

Even with the strongest "why" guiding you, there can sometimes be excuses standing between you and progress. This is where I've started to flex my "why not" muscle.

I think of it like this: your "why" leads you places you want to go, but your "why not" helps you react when new opportunities come up unexpectedly.

Your "why" is based on your values and your "why not" is based on your level of risk aversion. And I think we could all use just a little more risk in our lives, especially if you're as full of self-resistance as I can be.

How you can find your "why not"?

While finding your "why" requires a lot of introspection (and maybe list-making and journaling, if you're like me), finding you're "why not" is a little more straightforward.

It's actually more of a habit. When you come across a new yoga class or maybe get a chance to hang out with someone you don't know too well, it's easy to feel that resistance building up inside. I usually come up with all sorts of "legitimate" excuses (even though the truth is that I just want to stay home and watch Netflix).

When you find yourself talking yourself out of an innocuous event or opportunity like this, it's time to ask yourself:

  • Why am I avoiding this?
  • What's the worst that can happen?
  • Is the cost going to outweigh the benefits?
  • Will this take me further away from my goal? (basically, is it absolutely against your "why"?)

If it's not in direct opposition to one of your values, then why not?

If you're only following your "why," you'll make decisions based on perceived possible benefits. By allowing yourself a little bit of wiggle room by following your "why not" as well, you'll be able to expand your horizons.

A concrete example

Because I feel a little like I'm talking in circles, I want to lay out an example. Let's say one of your core values, your "why," is to pursue a healthier lifestyle.

You go to a restaurant and plan on ordering something healthy, like soup and a salad. But the waiter also offers you a protein-packed, vegan burrito bowl that would fulfill all your nutritional requirements.

The soup and salad fulfill your "why," but if you've never tried the other offering, then why not? Asking yourself "why not" more regularly will open you up to new experiences, people and things.

So go for it! Explore your boundaries this weekend by asking yourself "why not" when you're at your next crossroads.