Start By Learning What’s Actually Important To You
Do you know what’s important to you?
I mean really important. Do you know why you do what you do? Do you know what’s driving you?
If you’re like me, the answer is:
kind of . . . maybe . . . more or less . . . or something similar that’s noncommittal and allows you to avoid having to dig any deeper
Maybe you’re not like me, maybe you’ve got a clear purpose and values, but for the rest of us (and I would bet for most of us) this can be a really tough question to answer. It’s easy to list things that are important to us and it’s pretty easy to mention some of the values we hold, but to be able to clearly define that thing deep in the core of us that informs every decision we make . . . that can be something very different. Trying to find that thing can be intimidating, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try – I for one, am not going to give up so easily.
Last week at work, I attended a career workshop run by an external organization called Empower World. I’ve attended other types of professional development courses before and was expecting a day filled with lectures outlining the specifics of goal-setting, managing meetings, and meeting deadlines. I was pleasantly surprised to discover something entirely different.
The workshop was led by two Professional Certified Coaches and early in the day, they defined their purpose as coaches this way:
“Our job as coaches is to help people in their own self-discovery, learning who they are, and where they’re going.”
That is where I started getting interested.
Then they said, “It’s not about becoming a new person, it’s remembering who we are.”
That is where I was hooked.
Though I know the idea of working with a life coach has gained popularity in recent years, before last week, I didn’t realize what that meant. Over the course of the workshop we actively worked to determine what our values are (and whether we’re actually living in line with them), what drives us, and ultimately worked to understand why we do what we do. We discussed Simon Sinek’s infamous Golden Circle concept and how we will never have long-term success if we don’t “start with why.”
Personal development and professional development can’t be separated because how we live and how we are will influence and determine what we do. When we start to be intentional with why-questions we can get to the ultimate why – understanding why we do what we do and knowing what drives us. Check out my earlier post An Exercise in Intention for some practical tips for how to get started.
The reality is that it’s pretty easy to say: “What’s most important to me is helping others.” However, do your lifestyle, your choices, and the places you choose to spend your time and money reflect that? If they don’t, I hate to tell you, but you’re wrong about what’s most important to you. This can be an extremely hard thing to evaluate on our own. There’s something about being vulnerable and answering the hard questions with someone else that doesn’t allow us to cop-out, it somehow makes it real, it turns it into something we have to act on.
Learning how to improve in any area of my life takes intentionality and this foundational thing is no different. The truth is that many people will sit in their comfort zones with no desire to evaluate this question and no real desire for growth. The reality is that they’ll most likely be fine. They’ll probably have a good life with highs and lows and will be content to be comfortable.
But I want more.
I want to be the best version of me I can be. I want to easily be doing things in ten years that scare me now. I want to be challenged, grow, and inspire others. I don’t want a list of life hacks to get me through to next week, I want real growth. I want to thrive in every area of my life.
So I’m going to keep asking myself the tough questions. I’m going to inspect every decision I make to determine the ‘why’ behind it. I’m going to get to the heart of what drives me to do what I do and along the way, I’m confident I will learn how to thrive and improve in every area of my life.
If you don’t know why you do what you do, start asking yourself the hard questions and if you’re lucky enough to have someone willing to walk through it with you, be brave and go for it.