by Dr. Cindy Briggs
March 28, 2022
We have probably all heard this, and I have even said it more than I can count, that before we do anything we should determine our “why”. I am a big fan of Simon Sinek and he has a great TedTalk on this topic, and an awesome book. I couldn’t agree with him more on making our “why” be the part of any decision making process…. but what happens when/if your WHY changes (gasp!)
I recently took three months off from my professional life… it was my sabbatical (that was unpaid 😉 and I did a great deal of reflecting. I started thinking about how I started working when I was 12 with many babysitting gigs. Then the day after I turned 15, I got my first real job at a popcorn store in town. I was so young I had to go get a work-permit that said when and how much I could work. Since then… I have worked…and worked…. and strived for that “win”. You may ask– what “win” and I wish I could tell you.
As a Type-A, overachiever, I just kept moving. I got a BA in Communication/Public Relations. I started immediately on my FIRST Master’s degree in public administration. From there I got another Master’s (Higher Education) and then a PhD (Organizational Leadership) and then ANOTHER Master’s (MBA). I wanted more education, better positions, and more clout within my community. My “why” at the time seemed to just be– BE THE BEST.
During all of this achieving– life happened. I won’t go into the whole story of my marriage and becoming a mom (although that is a cool story). Let’s just say, I only transferred my why to the situation. I wanted to be the BEST wife (work full time, cook, clean, etc.). I wanted to be the BEST mom (engage, room mom, activities, etc.). I continued to be a full-time college professor, writer, coach, etc. but my why didn’t change.
I didn’t stop. I just kept going….and going… until I didn’t.
We all have stories of how the pandemic affected our lives. For some it was very positive, and for others it was negative. There was no one who came out of the last two years unchanged in some way.
What I realized was my why was not aligning with who I was anymore. I was no longer worried about what other people thought (gasp… again…. this is big for me!). I wanted to be sure my why was more closely aligned to my faith. I wanted to still be an amazing wife/mom but how that played out started to look different. And the big one for me was the why in my professional life.
I took time to dig into my life, my feelings, and what I could bring to people. I am not trying to be the world’s biggest business coach with thousands of clients. I am not looking to make millions of dollars. I am not trying to be the next influencer star. My heart is to help people lean into their dream of starting a business and/or nonprofit.
I want to give them valuable information, and I want to cheer them on. My professional mission is still to have programs that help entrepreneurs and communities thrive– that hasn’t changed. My why is just now to focus on sharing my God given gifts and talents with others. Does this mean doing my job for free… no… but it shifts how I focus on my business.
The why behind my mission has shifted and now it fits me better. And here is the hardest part of this…. defining your initial why is a bit easier… you have nothing to compare it to. RE-DEFINING your why can be a little harder. You sometimes have to blow up the past…. if it doesn’t fit anymore— get rid of it. No worries. No guilt. No looking back.
There is a quote from the movie Blindside where LeAnn Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) says, “I don’t need y’all to approve of my choices, but I do ask that you respect them.” No everyone may agree with your shift, and that is OK! Your business is YOURS and you get to determine the direction.
When to Re-Define your Why
- Major Life Events: Take a moment to look at these events and really understand how they may affect you. Great things like weddings and babies, but even tough things like family deaths, or tragedy. Don’t just fly by these events and not taken inventory on if things need to change (or if something in you has changed).
- Change in Business: Maybe when you started your business it was the new, “it”, thing but that has shifted. You should always be watching your market to determine if you are still competitive. Think about Blockbuster not shifting when new an improved technology came out…
- Heart Change: It doesn’t even take a major event to shift your heart. As I mentioned, I realized I wanted my professional life to more closely align with my personal life that was closely aligned with my faith. It was in quite moments I realized my heart had changed an I was (and am) figuring out how that will look in the end.
If you are in a season of change, or if you just feel like things don’t fit like they used to… maybe it is time for your to re-define your why (or establish a why if you haven’t). It doesn’t mean you have to quit working, or make it a big deal. It only means that you find time to really explore your heart and your reasons for why you do things. Get very honest with yourself (and that can be hard) and then come up with what you want your life and business to be about.
I am giving you permission (not that you need it) to go and find your NEW WHY!
Dr. Cindy Briggs is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, college professor, wife and mom. Her mission is to provide programs that can help entrepreneurs and communities thrive. To find out more, visit www.cindybriggsphd.com.