So you failed to stick with your last diet, huh? And your New Year’s resolution to shape up your language didn’t really stick. How about missing the goal of cutting back time spent on your smartphone? You feel like a quitter. Or that you’re the kind of person who just can’t change. Well, if you are reading this blog, you are probably the kind of person who knows that there is a better you, the person you should be, lingering just beneath the things that are holding you back. In my journey to becoming the person I should be, I have failed many times. Luckily I have finally figured out the reason why.
I had failed to filter my goals through the most basic question – Why? Why is it important that I change or grow? Today we will talk about finding YOUR why. We will also look at what it takes to discover the motivator that allows you to have sustainable growth. In case you missed it, last week I talked about MY why. You can check it out here – it might give perspective while you hunt for yours.
The truth is pretty simple, we rarely make lasting change in our lives until we have a good reason to do so. The problem is that we fail to identify the reason before it’s too late. A common example happens in doctor’s offices painfully frequently – you’ve been told (and you’ve known) that you need to exercise. That your 20-something’s metabolism doesn’t keep you thin anymore. But you justify that a few extra pounds never hurt anyone, and eating right is just too darn expensive! And this goes on, year after year – “Ah, I’ll start eating right on the first of next month”. Until the chest pains start up. Or your knees hurt. Or you break a sweat after a single flight of stairs. Ideally, the thought of stopping the degeneration is enough to get you started on a growth path. I identified my WHY and one part of it is that “I will become the father my kids need”. They will have me around when they are having kids and need advice. I will be healthy and able to roughhouse with my grandkids. This portion of my why keeps me motivated to keep up with the exercises, food choices, rest times, and anything else my body needs to stay in balance.
By now it should be clear that having your fundamental motivator is extremely important. If you don’t have a compass to guide you and spur you on, you tend to drift through life. Sleepwalking from one short-term result to the next. So let’s avoid that! I’ve narrowed down this process to three steps… I’ll walk you through them. Get a piece of paper, I want you to hand-write this.
- Think about who you want to be. You can write down descriptors of the person you should be, or the person you want to be, or a person who you hope to be like. My perfect self is patient, trustworthy, kind, generous, healthy, and so on. Don’t worry about your current situation just yet – think big. A.W. Tozer said it best: “Refuse to be average. Let your heart soar as high as it will.”
- Now take that list of characteristics and think about why those are important to you. I think of my life as a platform that is held up by four pillars: faith, finances, fitness, and interpersonal skills; I run my characteristics through that filter. For example, I want to be financially free so that I can provide for my family and be generous to others without worrying or fighting about money with my wife. Write out the things you think about for each descriptor you listed on step one.
- Refine your list. So many characteristics of the future you are interwoven. The four pillars are interdependent – if one corner is dipping then the whole platform is off balance. By looking at each “why” sentence, you can start connecting the dots and refining your wording. I think this is important because the end result should be something you quickly refer to when you are facing a decision or a problem. My final sentence turned out like this: I am becoming the husband my wife deserves, the father my kids need, and the Christian God intends me to be.
Your why statement is something that you should memorize. Remember that every decision you make will either make you better or worse. Your WHY can help you make decisions better when you normally wouldn’t do the right thing. It takes time to develop the habit of filtering decisions through this statement. Once you’ve got it you can write it on your bathroom mirror, or recite it to yourself so that when you are tempted to make an impulse purchase you can stop yourself. Make sure your significant other knows it so they can remind you that your practice serves a much bigger purpose than you think.
Having your WHY statement will also help you avoid setting goals that don’t really matter! Are you trying to become the boss at work because social expectations dictate that’s the next step in your career path? Or because that’s a step that will get you closer to being the person you intend to be? Your WHY is a mini version of a mission statement for your life. It should help you make decisions as small as day to day food choices, and as large as career decisions. Ask yourself “will this get me closer or further from my future self?”
There are certainly barriers to achieving this positive habit, these are your excuses to put off believing that you can become whoever you want to be. Social barriers, current financial situations, past trauma, all of these are limiting factors and some will take a lot more work to overcome. But I want you to remember that if you allow these limiting factors from your past or present to govern your future behavior you will forever be stuck in mediocrity. You can change! You can be the hero in the story of your life! It all starts with taking that first baby step and following it up with the next step. Once I grasped the concept that every great achievement is nothing but a collection of small steps, I became unstoppable. And the same goes for you.
Here’s your challenge: do it! This is important! My WHY has consistently encouraged me to make progress in my parenting abilities, in the way I handle money and relationships, and it has kept me motivated to continue reading the Bible and learning about how to live a joyful and fulfilling life.
Let’s end average together!
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