How to Find Your “Why” to Get Unstuck
With more people working from home, there’s an urgent call to be more productive. But this isn’t as easy as it seems and it’s caused a lot of business owners to feel unstuck and unable to move forward.
In fact, more people now are “languishing” amidst the pandemic. According to Shemiah Derrick, a licensed professional counselor and certified alcohol and drug counselor, “Languishing is apathy, a sense of restlessness or feeling unsettled or an overall lack of interest in life or the things that typically bring you joy.”
While not a mental illness, some of the symptoms of languishing include burnout, lack of motivation, and numbness. Sound familiar?
Studies show that 62% of small business owners feel depressed once a week because of the challenges they face. It can be difficult to get out of a rut when there doesn’t seem to be a way out.
But knowing how to find your “why” is the first step to get unstuck and move forward in life and in business. This will help you maintain a good energy in achieving success, no matter what comes your way.
What is your “why”?
Your “why” is a statement of purpose for what you do and how you live (i.e. your lifestyle). Reminding yourself of your “why” will help you flourish and stay motivated despite the setbacks that you may encounter.
You most likely have an unclear or undefined “why” if you constantly feel overwhelmed, anxious, or unfulfilled with your business.
Your “why” motivates you to do the hard work even if it requires short-term sacrifices. It serves as your anchor and direction during chaotic times in life (and business).
It’s important to reflect on what your “why” might be. “Getting more money” isn’t enough of a statement of purpose for your business and how you live. Money should ideally be a means to achieving greater ends.
There are four common areas in your life to look for your “why”:
- Values – Core beliefs that guide your actions, behaviour, and interactions with the world
- Motivations – Actions that help express your “why” and excites you when doing something even without external pressure
- Passions – Interests that you constantly want to experience and learn more about
- Strengths – Natural abilities, talents, marketable skills, people skills, and other life skills that you have
5 ways to find your “why” as a small business owner and get unstuck
Finding your “why” can be an overwhelming process, particularly when you’re already feeling stuck. But using these five tips can help you find your “why” more clearly.
1. Track your thoughts
Being self-aware of your own thoughts and actions is one of the most important skills a business leader must possess. In fact, a survey conducted by the Stanford Graduate School of Business showed that 75 respondents rated self-awareness as the most crucial ability to develop.
Tracking your thoughts, especially recurring ones, can help you become more self-aware. You’d be surprised at how repeated thoughts can actually be your “why.” Developing self-awareness can teach you to be more introspective as you unearth your motivations for doing things.
And by managing your emotions, your ideas, abilities, and motivations, you become more aware of how you respond to situations, how your actions impact others, and how you’re perceived.
It can also show you your fears, triggers, and weaknesses and how they hold you back from achieving your “why.” While this can be unsettling, it’s a good way to know how to overcome your fears and embrace your strengths.
Cultivating self-awareness is also important because it helps you gain the right mindset to succeed in business.
2. Analyse your business career trajectory
If you take a look over the course of your career journey, it might help you find common threads like:
- Why you were drawn to the jobs you had
- Your most rewarding work accomplishments
- Situations where you felt appreciated by colleagues
- Your favourite work tasks
- Circumstances that made you feel productive
If you have answers for some (or all) of these common threads in your business life, you may discover your “why.”
It’s almost like carrying out a business analysis of yourself and your professional life. Because of this, you’ll find the overlapping motifs in your business trajectory and the patterns that can reveal your “why.”
Identifying these sequences can help you make better business decisions that are in line with them and become more efficient and productive, as well.
3. Consult your inner circle
Having a supportive circle (family, close friends, or even colleagues) can celebrate you when you hit a high and uplift you when you feel down about your business. When you’re close to this inner circle, you know you can trust them to call your attention when you fail to notice something you should be more aware about.
We’re social creatures and having that support can bring about a lot of success in business whether it’s operational, professional, or even emotional.
Even though this inner circle can be people you have a lot of confidence in, they’re not going to be the people who will identify your “why.” Only you can find it but they can help you guide your way by sharing their observations about your strengths and passions at work.
4. Ask yourself questions
Your “why” is inherently emotional and personal and it impacts your every decision in life and in business. It includes the motivation behind the work you do and the direction you want to take your business in.
You can find your “why” by asking yourself these questions:
- What gets you excited or what’s something you can’t stop thinking about?
- Is there a problem or challenge that emotionally moves you to take action?
- What kind of work would give you a sense of satisfaction or fulfilment?
- What aspect of your career have you enjoyed across all your past work experiences?
- What kind of work feels effortless to you, but drives your curiosity to learn more?
Self-reflection and having time alone in order to answer these important questions can get you unstuck and help you remember why you started your business in the first place.
5. Conduct self-experiments
When you experiment with yourself, you’re able to discover more about the decisions you make day to day and the patterns you have when it comes to these actions. You gain a new perspective on yourself and what you do. It also makes you more aware of your mistakes, which is actually a good thing for you and your business because then you’ll know what not to do.
Some examples of experiments that you can try are:
- Describe your ideal workday – By outlining your workday, you can better map out where and how you spend your time and energy. Be specific with your work day and ask yourself why you carry things out a certain way.
- Gather your stories – Think of at least five stories where you remember the time, date, and your emotional response to it. Write them down to be more self-reflective.
- Share with a friend – By externalising your emotions, you can understand them better and an outside perspective can help you identify themes that stand out in your story.
- Circle 1‐2 themes that seem the biggest (i.e. ones that inspire or define you) – Find themes in your life that are unique and motivate you most.
What’s my “why”?
It would be unfair of me to ask you to discover your “why” and not reveal my own. It took me years to find it, but it was right in front of my eyes the whole time.
As a previous business owner, I’ve always been drawn to helping others discover their own potential with their businesses. I want to make them understand their businesses, why they run it, and what inspires them to keep doing what they’re doing. I want to help them improve their lives, professionally and personally. I want them to grow as much as they can.
Getting unstuck is not an easy task but by being self-aware, self-reflective, and taking the time to ask yourself important questions to learn more about yourself will help you find your motivations and find your “why.”
If you need help getting unstuck and find your “why,” achieving success.