But Why?

By: Lauren Broussard, Co-Founder, The Memo

If you have children, or have ever been around a young child, you know that one of their favorite questions is "Why?" As their little minds are growing, they are curious about everything. They want to know why the sky is blue, why you're doing that thing you're doing, why the dog three doors down is barking, why we are going this way to the store instead of that way...and when they get one answer, they ask "why?" to your response.

As we get older, many of us begin asking fewer of these questions. Things are the way they are, and many of us don't take the time to dig further into it.

I think we should ask ourselves "why" more often in our lives and careers.

I am a pretty curious person, but am also a big fan of stability and comfort. As a result, there have been times, especially in my career, that I have lost sight of the "why" of things. I have gone through the motions of every day, forgetting why I do a job, why I'm doing some seemingly monotonous task, or why I do things one way and not another.

Throughout parts of my life, I've struggled getting out of bed and starting my day, not always seeing the point. Something that's helped me navigate these times has been asking people close to me what gets them out of bed every morning:

  • "I have a job to get to."
  • "God gave me an extra day and I don’t want to waste it."
  • "My kids and partner depend on me."
  • "Staying in bed too long makes me anxious and uncomfortable."
  • "I have a purpose. I don't know it yet, but today may be the day I figure it out."
  • "My dog won't let me stay in bed even if I wanted to."
  • "I love running. First thing in the morning is the only time I can do it."
  • "I have a standing walking date with a friend."
  • "I teach kids, and missing work means missing out on seeing their faces when they have an 'aha' moment."
  • "I like seeing my work friends."

What about you? What is your why? What gets you out of bed every morning?

I challenge all of us to consider the bigger "why" of our work. Perhaps you have people in your life that depend on you. Maybe you have a passion for helping others, and that comes out in the work you do everyday. Or the thing you have to do today will ultimately help your colleagues to do their jobs better. Maybe you have some long-term goals - a trip you'd like to take with friends, children you'd like to put through college, or a new purchase you would like to make for yourself. Or maybe you made a promise to yourself to do your best work, and this annoying thing you have to do today is part of keeping that promise.

Both work and life can get challenging and tedious. Remembering your “why” can help you to press on.

We did an exercise earlier in the year with some of my colleagues, where we shared our long-term personal and professional goals. We wrote everyones goals up on the board. It was interesting to see how we all had different reasons for working, but that accomplishing our team goals together would ultimately help us accomplish our individual goals.

Think about something you have to do today at work that you aren't looking forward to. Why does it need to be accomplished? When you are finished, what impact will it have on you or on others?

Remembering the "why" is what keeps us grounded, keeps us moving, and keeps us productive.

Here's to living this week with our "why" in mind.