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Why are you doing this?   Leave a comment

Probably the most important question you can ask yourself.  I’ve done a couple of posts about acting with purpose.  Living your life not on auto pilot, but with definite intention.  When making the decisions that will move you forward along your path you should do so willfully.  This brings up the question, why are you doing this?  After all, how do you know which path to take if you haven’t figured out where you’re going?

The way to find that path is to know your why.  And the obvious way to find your why is to ask yourself why.  Unfortunately this isn’t a Google maps search.  You can’t just type a destination into the search window and be given a clear cut path to your goal.  Instead it’ll take time and meditation on the questions of why.  And that’s because to get to your why you need to keep whittling things down.

We all tend to create broad goals for ourselves.  Why are you exercising?  To get in better shape.  But that’s a broad idea.  A sprinter and a marathon runner are both in athletic shape but both have to train completely differently to reach success in their endeavor.  So you whittle it down.  Why do I want to get in better shape?  To be able to do more with my time.  Why do you want to do more with your time?  Because I feel I waste time.  Why do you feel you waste time?  Because I don’t think my actions have a real impact.  And you keep going and going until there isn’t a new why to ask.

This might be because your answers have become circular.  This is where the answer to why goes back to a previous answer.  So see what’s in that circle.  Like above you might ask the next why as “why do you feel your actions don’t have real impact?”  The answer to that could be because you keep repeating steps.  And you ask why do you repeat steps?  The answer is because they don’t have any real impact.  So the answer to why are you doing this is to have an impact.

Another reason you might not have a new why to ask is you’ve whittled the why down as far as you need to go.  There is no next step, you’ve figured out your why.  Again, going off the original series of why questions your next question may be “why do you want to have an impact?”  And the answer may be that you want to live your life to benefit others, not yourself.  And that answer resonates with you.  You’ve reached your why.  You wish to be of service to others.

And finally you may not be far enough along on your journey to fully understand your ultimate why.  Maybe you only get as far as you wish to be of service to others and that works for you for a while.  And then one day a why pops into your head.  Why do you want to be of service to others?  You’ve spent enough time serving others that you’ve become better.  More self aware.  And now you need more answers.  So you start asking why again.

And that’s how you keep walking down the right path.  You keep asking why.  Maybe one day you reach your destination.  Maybe you spend a lifetime looking.  Either way you’re living your life acting with purpose.  And that’s a good life.

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