Defining Your Why. How to discover your purpose and find your focus.
I’ve spent most of my life just floating along in the ether, riding the waves and ending up wherever they may take me, which has worked well for me to a point. I guess. I mean, I’ve done some crazy, fun, and adventurous things, and am utterly rich in friendships which is the ultimate to me, yet still, the older I get, the less satisfied and more melancholic I seem to have become… disappointed that I haven’t done/achieved/seen more, and bummed that I never really learned the benefits of goal setting and the subsequent joy of achieving those goals. Now in Motherhood, and at 40, that feeling is 1000000% amplified.
I stare at Baby A while she’s nursing or sleeping snugly in my arms and think to myself sh********t, this is IT! THIS is why I’ve done all that I’ve done in my life, for this little girl. And then I realize it was also for the little girl that I once was. The little girl that wanted big adventures and a lifetime of getting to know the people in the world around her, and somewhere in the middle of those two little girls, is the big girl, the Hilary NOW, that is ready to realign herself WITH herself.
Enter my “Why”. I believe that a persons “Why” is fluid, ever evolving with their season of life, and with the person that is simultaneously unfolding although I lost track of mine somewhere between 27 and 35. Later, I briefly established a new reason for being that both changed my dating style, and sent me on a month long motorcycle trip on the other side of the world… then I got pregnant and lost track of my why, and everything else. Again.
In the months since my daughter was born I struggled with a huge identity crisis that could only be described as some straight up Nat-Geo shit, not dissimilar to that clip of the Orca whale tossing a baby seal around just for funzies before eating it, except in my version, I was the baby seal, and my baby was the Orca whale.
I’ve learned over the past 2 years that I can easily slide into a victim role, letting myself believe that everything is happening TO me independent OF me, and then I end up carrying around bitterness and resentment etc., none of which is cute, and even less of which moves me towards a life well lived.
I spent far too many early morning hours and dark, solitary nights lamenting my new identity, Hilary as Mother, Hilary as Stay at Home Mother, Hilary as anything other than a successful, adventurous, career Woman. Hilary as a Woman that also didn’t particularly want to go back to work as soon as she thought she would, or even at all like she thought she would. Everything was suddenly different and I was having a hard time processing it.
One morning on a walk, I was half-listening to a podcast a friend recommended by Ruth Soukup, and something she said about motivation caught my attention…
“The best way—maybe the only way—to motivate yourself to do hard things, to stretch outside your comfort zone and to persevere even when the going gets tough—is to get crystal clear about your why.”
I’m not entirely sure why I heard that message so loud and clear on that particular day, at that moment, but I went right home and (after doing no less than 10 Mom-tasks) sat down with a notebook and wrote my Why. It didn’t take long for me to figure mine out, because I was smack in the middle of my fourth trimester and all my feelings were just below the surface. I felt my why. I mean I REALLY felt it, with the core of my being.
“I work in order to give myself financial Independence, that I may have freedom of movement and the ability to fully support myself and provide for my child. I strive to live the life of my dreams and face my fears head on so I can be the best example of a life well lived for my daughter.”
If you read between those lines you’ll hear a Mother who struggles with forgiving herself for working outside the home while another Woman helps raise her child. You’ll hear the child of a single working Mom, that doesn’t ever want to rely on someone else for financial support. And you’ll meet the adult child of that same single Mom that strives to show her child that Mom is a Woman too, with her own needs and her own identity beyond Motherhood.
Wow ladies, I didn’t see that emotional tsunami coming down the pipeline when I started writing this. But I guess that’s exactly the goal of defining your why, to dig deep and find your feels, because those feels are what will drive you towards your dreams, your goals, and the rest of your life, helping you to ask yourself: “does this serve my truth?”.
Once you understand your WHY, you’ll be able to clearly articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and to better understand what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best. When you can do that, you’ll have a point of reference for everything you do going forward. You’ll be able to make more intentional choices for your business, your career and your life. You’ll be able to inspire others.Simon Sinek
We’re all fairly aware of what we do in life/work, but it takes some true self examination to get to the meat of WHY we do what we do, and it’s not always pretty, however, once we can name and determine that piece, we can easily refocus our behaviors and actions to achieve our end goals. Below, i’ve compiled 4 guiding questions from the world wide web to start you on your journey of introspection.
4 questions to help you find your motivation:
- What gets you out of bed in the morning, and keeps you up at night? (Besides your kids)
- What sentence will define your life? (Because honestly there’s not time to do it all)
- How will people describe you at your 80th birthday party?
- How do you want to be remembered by your children?
For some, this will be an easy 10 minute task, depending on where you are in your life, for others it’ll be a challenging 2 hours of bubble charts or 2 days of meandering thought processes. There is no correct way to answer these questions, each Woman’s truth is unique to her and her particular season of life, so expect that someday, today’s “Why” won’t quite fit you anymore… and there is beauty and amnesty in that impermanence.
So here’s a shout out to all you Mommas, trying to figure it out before your kids are old enough to notice that you don’t have it all figured out. I see you, you’re doing great.