Pushing Through - How Important is Your Why

redefining after 50 Jan 05, 2021
Knowing your why before your how

I was aimlessly scrolling through Facebook the other day (which really needs to stop in 2021), when I came upon a post from my best friend. She posted a screen shot of a month's worth of closed rings on her Apple Watch. She'd met her goals of standing, active minutes, and calories burned every day for the entire month. As well as the previous month.

Now, what made this even more amazing to me is that I knew that just this past week for like 4 days, she'd been sick with a stomach bug. Not a debilitating one but a stomach bug of some sort, nonetheless. She was keeping fluids down but unable to eat anything. I said, "you did this with a stomach bug?" She said, "yeah. It was slow going a couple of the days but I did it."

I held back on my initial reaction to lecture her on the wisdom of exercising when you feel like crap. And, instead, conveyed how impressed I was. Which was the truth!

And then sat down and reflected on this. Her ability to push through even though she felt bad.

And, that the reason that she was able to make that happen was because of the size of her "why."

The Importance of the "Why"

Although I don't know her full why because I didn't outright ask her during this conversation, I have a good idea of the gist of it. And I'm not going to share it here because it's not my place to.

But, her why is big. Big enough to make her want to push through and do some sort of exercise to close those circles - even with a stomach bug.

As we look at redefining anything after 50, our why is key. Whether we are redefining a life role or changing a habit, our why must be big. "If you have a big enough "why," you'll always find the "how."

"Rules" About Your "Why" and How to Get To It

Most Importantly, Think Big

Your why needs to make you super excited. It needs to be so motivating that you will push through to get to your goal, no matter what it is.

In my work as a behavior analyst, we talk a lot about the value of the reinforcement that we are offering based on the size of the demand that we are placing on the individual or on ourselves. I always use the example of asking someone to mow a hundred acres on a 100 degree summer day. If I offer you ten dollars to mow that lawn, you will have to think about it and are likely to say no. If I offer you one million dollars to mow that lawn on that hot day your "YES" response is likely to require no thought.

Our "why" needs to be huge and worthwhile to us.

Think Big, But Be Specific

As in all goals that we set for ourselves, we need to be as specific as possible. So, instead of telling yourself that your "why" is travel, retirement, time with family, money, etc. set a specific why for yourself and ideally a specific target date, if applicable.

Some examples:

  1. Maybe your overall why is that you want to spend more time with your family. Your specific "why" might be, "I'm going to babysit my grandchildren twice a week and do a weekly date night with my husband within the next 6 months." From there, you can figure out the in between steps to make that "why" happen.
  2. Maybe your "why" is income related. Your specific "why" might be, "I'm going to make two thousand dollars a month selling my t shirts by my 62nd birthday and be able to rent that beach house for the summer."
  3. Maybe your "why" is health related. Your specific "why" might be, "I'm going to lose that 20 pounds by summer so that I can run and play outside easily with my grandchildren."

It's Your Why - No One Else's

Don't make your "why" something that you think it should be rather than something that you really want. It's your why. If you're doing it for someone else, you will not be successful. Your "why" needs to make you really happy when you think about it. Give you butterflies in your stomach, even!

Sharing your why is a great way to make yourself more accountable. However, it's not a requirement for success. What is a requirement for success is that you believe that it's possible.

Finding Your "Why"

Start off by sitting and reflecting on your ideal day, week, and month. Really imagine what these would look like. Write them down.

Grab a copy of your free "What's Next Workbook" to help with this if you have haven't already. The journal prompts can help you with your why if it's not clear or you're having trouble making it specific.

Most importantly, VISUALIZE YOUR WHY. Are you losing those last 20 pounds so that you can run in the yard with your grandchildren this summer? Close your eyes and picture it! Put yourself in your yard. What are you wearing? What game are you playing? Picture them laughing and running.

Are you selling t shirts in your Etsy shop and earning money for family vacation? Put yourself in that beach house. Who is there? Smell the ocean. See the sunrise and sunset. Think about how proud you feel when you are putting that money in the bank for that trip.

Visualization will help erase any of those negative or fixed mindset voices in your head telling you that you won't get to your why.

Motivational speaker Coach Leon Hite says, "If your why doesn't make you cry, then it's not your why." I'm not sure I agree that your "why" has to make you cry, but it needs to be something that excites you enough to make you want to push through - even when you don't feel like it.

Funnily enough when I went back to proofread this post, I laughed at the first paragraph where I said that I needed to stop scrolling Facebook in 2021. I won't stop doing it. My "why" isn't big enough. But, I'll spend more time doing the things where I've got the big "why." Which will, in turn, lessen the time I spend scrolling Facebook.