The Most Important Question You Can Ask Yourself: Why Are You Here?

Why are you here?finding-your-why

I’m not asking why you exist. I mean why are you here online?

You spend hours upon hours online reading, writing, researching, archiving, creating, and connecting.

At times you feel like there’s so much information pulling you in so many different directions that you don’t know which way is up. You’re not sure if you’re doing what you should be doing – or if what you’re doing is really getting you anywhere.

It can be confusing, frustrating, and soul-crushingly discouraging.

So why do you subject yourself to the frustration?

What’s your end game?

Why are you here?

What is your why?

What You Do Doesn’t Matter As Much As Why You Do It

Maybe you already know your why – but if you’re like most people, you probably don’t have it nailed down just yet. And that’s fine. Your why is a moving, evolving target.

Most anyone can tell you what they do or how they do it – but if you pay attention you’ll notice that truly exceptional people can tell you why they do what they do.

If you were in a social situation and someone said, “I sell life insurance. Everyone needs it and it’s a good living.” – how would you react to that? Most likely with boredom or indifference, right?

Now imagine instead that same person says, “I sell life insurance because my uncle died young without any in place and it was a major financial hardship for his family. I just don’t want that to ever happen to another family if I can help it.”

That’s much more impactful, isn’t it? That’s why finding your why is so important.

Your why is your real, deep-seated reason for what you do. It’s the heart and soul of your business. The very reason it exists.

And that reason is probably a few levels deeper than you realize.

How To Find Your Why

If you’re going to invest your time and effort into doing something special online (and your presence here indicates that’s the case) then you need to put some thought into your purpose for doing what you do.

One way you can begin to dig into your why is to ask yourself the following questions, or similar questions. Write down as many answers to each question as possible.

  • What are your greatest skills or knacks?
  • What do people call you for help with?
  • What do you really love doing? What motivates you?
  • How might the things you’re good at and the things you enjoy serve others?

Once you’ve answered each question as thoroughly as you can, it’s time to analyze your lists and look for places where the answers to those questions intersect.

Why Are You Here?

I’m confident that your why isn’t just “I want to make money” or “I like to write.” You could do both of those things in other ways and in other places.

Something is driving you to do what you do. Maybe you can’t put words to it just yet, but deep down you and I both have a profound reason for doing what we do online.

And I think we both owe it to ourselves to put in the effort to understand not only what drives us – but also how it can benefit others.

So today, instead of delivering answers, I have two questions for you:

Why are you here? What is your why?

I really want to know. Please share it in the comments.

 

About Gary Korisko

Gary is a battle-tested sales expert, copywriter, coach, and business strategist who writes about Ethical Persuasion on Reboot Authentic. Connect with Gary on Google+ and Twitter.

Comments

  1. You know, Gary, you’ve asked a great question. So I took the time to write it out. I won’t “tell all” and make this answer way too long. But I will share one aspect from each of your 4 questions.

    What are your greatest skills or knacks? Like you mentioned — putting words together (writing) is something I’ve got a knack for.

    What do people call you for help with? Well, it ain’t spelling. :) Actually my family and friends ask for help with their decorating problems — but that translates to many other things too. The main thing is I can “see” solutions.

    What do you really love doing? What motivates you? Designing systems — simple systems for “getting things done.” Everything from where to store the coffee mugs (near the coffee pot — duh) to how to know what the next step is when working on a project.

    How might the things you’re good at and the things you enjoy serve others? I’m blessed to be a part of a team which develops and publishes guided journals, most of which have the single purpose of helping people be better at what they already know, love and do. And that is heady. :)

    • Perfect, Yvonne!

      This is exactly what I want to see in the comments. It seems like you’ve already found an excellent intersection between those things. What other ways might those interests and skills intersect? This is a great example. Nicely done :)

      So that’s how it’s done folks. Anyone else?

  2. Hi Gary, as I’ve read the book “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek just last month after watching his TED talk, I totally agree with you the importance of Why and that it goes way deeper than “because I want to make money”.

    My WHY is to live an expressive and creative life through art. It is through my art, especially portrait paintings, that I express my feelings and my views of the world most effectively.

    Then as I became a full time artist and launched my website this July, I knew I had to have a good online presence if I want my art to be seen by more people, so I made sure I had a reguarly updated blog. I’m lucky to have community going on already and get some comments on each post.

    The bonus is that I start to realise that I can live expressively and creatively not only through brush and paint, but through my keyboard, too. My writing isn’t too bad :) On top of this, I also found that I could make videos and I didn’t mind talking and showing myself in videos, either.

    So being online has allowed me to find more ways to “action” my WHY.

    Thank you for bringing it up.

    • Hi Lucy!

      I’ve heard wonderful things about that book from so many people – but I’m ashamed to say I’ve not yet read it.

      As you’re finding out yourself, I’m beginning to see how powerful online/content marketing can be for artists. It’s good to hear you’re getting some traction.

      Thanks for sharing your why with us – and I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  3. Michael Harris says:

    Gary,
    Great post today, and I took a few to write my WHY out. It was energizing to do that, so I appreciate bringing this up. Really like your work, so thanks. It was a great way to start Monday morning.

    Here it is, in rough draft:

    Why I teach about FASD…
    I teach others how to navigate FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) from two different perspectives. As a psychologist, I’ve seen families who make it work, and I’ve seen heart-wrenching fails: failed adoptions, suicide attempts, forced foster care, residential placements and treatments, running away, and incarcerations. But as a foster parent, I’ve had personal failures and successes, too, and I know how the emotions of happiness, sadness, anger, worry, and confusion play in to the mix.
    Let’s all learn from each other and quit trying the same things over and over that don’t work: Together, in an honest, practical, and constructive way, you (and your team) can move mountains–even if it’s only one stone at a time.

    • Michael:

      Thanks very much for all the compliments. I’m sincerely honored that what I do here matters to you!

      I think you have a lot of very powerful “whys” in your life. I can sense the passion you have for what you do – and that’s what we all need to be looking for.

      So, as a follow-up question – who exactly is your target audience? I know it’s probably more specific than just “all new parents”, right? Who is it who needs to hear what you have to say the most?

      Thanks again for joining in, Michael.

  4. “The five whys” is a great exercise. For example, 1) why am I here? To interact with other likeminded people. 2) Why am I interacting with likeminded people? In order to deepen relationships. 3) why deepen these relationships?… and so on. Each why takes you a level deeper into your motivations. 5 whys is good average level of depth, but you may want to go until you can’t answer anymore and you end up saying, “just because it is deeply meaningful to me.”

    By the way, the reason I am here is to activate other people to make their worlds better and to band together with other activated people to multiply our efforts in this shared vision. At least that is one way of putting it.

    Experiments show that asking yourself why you are doing something is a great way to drum up some passion and excitement for that activity. It even works for work you normally think is boring.

    Every time I shift tasks, I ask myself, “Who the hell cares whether I do this or not?” It may not be the best way, but to me it is like a cold dash of water on the face, and a way to remind myself that I find serving others most meaningful and activating in my life.

    • Good point, Aaron! I actually edited the 5 Whys out of this post hoping one of you would bring it up! :) it’s a very useful exercise.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5_Whys

      You make another really good point – and that has to do with decision making. If you know your why, you can measure your decisions against that backdrop. In other words, “If I do this… does it fit in with the reason that I do what I do?” And if not – you don’t do that thing.

      Good stuff, Aaron.

      This is becoming a great thread, people – keep it going!

  5. I love the theme of this article, Gary. It’s so essential that we not only figure out our initial ‘why’ but keep tabs on it, too, because it might change as we move along in life. Right now, my ‘why’ is about letting people know that they really CAN come back from adversity, no matter how big or small the crisis is. And that the coming back can be really crappy for awhile and that’s okay, too.

    If that makes sense ;-)

    • Thank you Bobbi – for the compliment and for encouraging me to go with this topic when i was on the fence :)

      Your ‘why’ makes perfect sense – and I know how much you do to help people through those times. Great to see you here!

  6. Laura Leigh Clarke says:

    Hey Gary, awesome post with some insightful thoughts on a topic that foxes most folks.

    This is something I’ve struggled with for the longest time, simply because I don’t have an origin story that relates to what I do. I can’t put my finger on the driving force that determines what I do – at least not internally. It just makes sense and at each step of the way I’ve fallen backwards/ been guided into doing this work… And where I haven’t I’ve thought ooh, that would be cool.

    If you have any thoughts that you’d like to share into help me define it that would be awesome ….. Although, I’m reminded of Oscar Wilde’s quip: to define is to limit ;))

    • Laura, I wouldn’t get discouraged about not figuring it all out. Why is an open question, is is supposed to be a struggle, and no one has it all figured out. Whatever work is calling to you, just do it, and don’t wait to figure yourself out first. Most people figure themselves out by doing stuff, and looking back at what made sense. Retrospection is better than introspection. Your comment reminded me of a Steve Jobs quote: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect the dots looking backward.”

      When you stumble across something that lights you up, grab it and keep a scrap of it with you wherever you go. Let these small flashes simmer with you, and your “why” will develop like a good stew, I promise.

    • I don’t think it’s so much the story that matters as it is the motive. The motive may very well include a story, though.

      You and I both know “The accidental entrepreneur” – that in itself is a story, isn’t it? Maybe your story is that the market found you and you recognized that you and your skillset had an obligation to those who need you.

      There’s a germ of something in there somewhere :)

  7. evanhadkins says:

    Your example seems to be more about how the why is expressed than what it is. Which is important.

    My why:
    To make a good income doing what I love.
    Why self development?
    Becoming at home with my emotions was a liberation for me.
    Because living whole is more satisfying – even if sometimes harder
    Because living with authenticity is the only way to lasting satisfaction.

  8. Hi Gary, reading this and the comments has actually helped me identify my why which I wasn’t all that sure about til now. I hate to admit, but my biggest why is that I want a vehicle that helps me get to the location independent life I long for. But that doesn’t seem to really serve others does it? So I’ve been kind of struggling with that lately.

    But I also then remembered that a big reason I chose the topic I write about is because I want to develop my own creativity and skills and use my blog as my creative outlet where I can do whatever I want, not what a boss or client wants! I love my blog so much and I think about it all the time and what I can write about next or create next. It’s a cool feeling having a passion for something again.

    I think that when you’re doing something you love, something that sets you free, others will latch on to that and want to know more about it. Now I hope that at least I can inspire others to get more creative with themselves.

    • Marianne:

      There’s noting wrong with having part of your why be “for” your own good.

      I’m going to spill the beans on an upcoming post because it’s relevant to your reluctance to serve yourself. People are motivated by their own happiness. That’s how we make decisions. Even when we’re being charitable and helping others… it’s because it makes us happy. Make sense?

      So that’s human nature and there’s no changing your species :) As long as you’re doing what makes you happy with integrity, you can help others at the same time in my opinion. (More to come)

      Also…look at the last sentence of your comment. It seems to me you have the beginning of a “why” for others there, too.

      Great comments, Marianne.

      • haha yeah, i kind of got that just from reading this and writing out that comment. was sort of a brain dump and it helped! :) thanks Gary!!

        And I do appreciate your words about serving ourselves. I am really looking forward to that post now!

  9. Woo have I missed your writing! I loved typing in the web address and seeing so much going on – you’re awesome, Gary.
    Now, what is my why? Holy moly has that changed. My “why” was based on my single, Zen-inspired, purpose-seeking life… And now? I’m a Christian woman, wife and stepmom, navigating this new faith and new roles, meanwhile, trying to get back into what makes me happy and alive (writing!). Whew! How’s that for a why? And how about a post on starting a blog over? ;)
    Just being on your blog is firing me up and inspiring me, Gary. Thanks for that! Glad to see you doing so well!!

    • Kaylee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Hey there! Wow. Have we missed you!

      Given your turn of events, this is an excellent post for you specifically to be commenting on. So… Why are you here, Kaylee?

      I really want to hear.

      I also want you to email me and tell me all about the wedding and your life in the interim.

      It’s really good to see you back here. And I do want an answer to the question :P

      • Well, it doesn’t really sound like I have a choice here, so… Why am I here?

        I don’t know if I really count as being online anymore, but…if I were to write, my “why” would be this: To navigate the muddy waters of a new faith, a new marriage, and step-parenthood, all while [trying to] living intentionally, passionately, and creatively. Uhhh…. And that’s exactly why I’m not writing! ;) It’s a bit of a mess, eh?

        I tried! E-mailing now. :)

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