Question, have you ever taken a moment to look at the “why’s” in your life? More specifically, have you ever stopped to think about the why(s) behind your career choice, relationships, hobbies, interests, goals, or adventures?
Seems like a simple question right? I mean, I’m not trying to trick you here. On the surface it seems straight forward, but, as you begin to dig a little deeper and start peeling back the layers to this question, it’s at that moment you realize that I’m an asshole because I may have just potentially fucked your world up. But that’s what I’m here for! And you knew this already!
So, I’ll ask you again, do you know your why?
In life when things get hard, knowing your why can be the subtle difference that either keeps you going or will make you question everything that you thought you knew about, “fill in the blank.” That was certainly the case for me while I was out hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail––my first introduction with this question.
Heading out for the PCT, as nervous as I was, there was never a question or any doubt as to why I was going out there. I knew my why inside and out. I had done the work of answering this question long before my feet ever even hit California soil. I knew that to be ready for when shit hit the fan––because it did––I needed to know my why like the back of my hand. If I had went into the trip blindly, chances are when I hit the hard times I would have been off that trail before I even knew what hit me.
It’s easy to jump into things in our lives without first taking a step back to look at the why behind them, and most of us have been guilty of this at one point or another. But if we’re not trying to move through life as consciously as possible, chances are instead of choosing relationships, careers, or adventures, we’re falling into them––(in an older blog I talk about how I didn’t consciously choose to go to school to become a massage therapist and although I do love it, this is probably a good indication as to why I won’t be sticking with it long term).
So, this taking the time out to dissect our why before we push forward on a new area in our life will take us further in the long run and is the reason we’re here today. This is still a question that I ask myself to this day before I go all in on anything big in my life, and as much as knowing our why can steer us into some vulnerable areas of our lives, it can also be our saving grace for when our back is against the wall. Better to have this question as a friend than an enemy.
Get to Writing
Ahh, nothing like the good old honeymoon phase where everything in life is just peachy. Can I get an amen hallelujah because I know you know exactly what I’m talking about.
New Job that just put you at six figures? Say what, life is good, dog. And Marge? Your new co-worker? She’s the best! Or how about Sarah, your new girlfriend that you can’t seem to shut up about. She is the one. You can feel it in your bones, you tell your friends for the twentieth time.
But all good things must come to an end…
Cut to five years from now:
Remember Marge? Well yeah, now she can go jump off a fucking bridge for all you care. And Sarah? Where to even begin with this one? For starters, she can also go jump off a bridge. AM I RIGHT?
And it’s at these moments when knowing your why becomes crucial.
Before I ever even left for the PCT, I had written a mini letter to myself that practically read on the front “BREAK GLASS AND USE INCASE OF AN EMERGENCY.” Was this letter the sole reason I trudged through the hard times out on the PCT? No, but it did play a huge role. At the end of a twenty-five mile day––a day that can only be comparable to what hell might be like––it was a breath of fresh air to break the glass for some much needed reassurance as to why I was putting myself through that.
Obviously I knew why I was out there, but this works because if we get to the point where we need to break that glass for some reassurance––and it’s bound to happen at one point or another because I mean, well, we’re human––there’s now no more thinking involved. Thinking that could potentially lead down the path of self doubt is immediately shut down. We‘re no longer sitting there trying to win a debate against ourselves as our thoughts aren’t coming through as clear as we would like.
Now, are we going to write down why we just started dating this chick or why we’ve decided to go back to school or start up a new career? Most likely not. But let’s try to put this into perspective to show why it might be something to invest some time in.
Think of how fickle us humans are with our thoughts. We can never be sure which thoughts are going to stick around, and which might fade into the either. How many times have you told yourself “I’ll remember to do that tomorrow” and then a week goes by and it hits you. You realize, “oh fuck, I’m an asshole and forgot to do that…again!”
Try to think of this as nothing more than a journal exercise that will go a long way if you choose to answer it honestly. There’s something about writing things down that makes it so very real. It now become tangible and better yet, you can now hold yourself accountable in a way that can’t be done just by thinking that you’ll remember everything in the long run.
I don’t expect everyone to go and immediately bust out their journals and start writing shit down. I mean, you probably should, but that’s none of my god damn business. If you should fall into this category of not wanting to break out the journal, at least have the balls to apply this question to every area in your life that you see fit. And when I say have the balls, what I’m really getting at is that it’s easy to do a half-ass dive into this question when we only think about it. But like I said before, when we take the time to write things out, there’s some magic that takes place. Don’t be that person who gets five years into a relationship or three years into school only to find yourself in the midst of hell asking why this is even worth it. You’re going to bet that you wish you had some glass to break.