McKella Sawyer
January 27, 2023

How Asking “Why” Can Change Your Life

How Asking “Why” Can Change Your Life

Have you ever tried to change your behavior? 

Do you feel like you live your life according to your deepest values and beliefs?

Do you ever stop to ask yourself, “Why do I do what I do?”

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably tried and failed many times to change your behavior. But you’ve probably had some successes too. 

So what’s the difference between the two? How do we actually change our behavior? How do we really get to the root of our actions so we can live a meaningful life, full of what we care about most?

It Starts With WHY

It starts with why

In our culture topic this month, we’ll learn why the WHY behind our actions is so important. 

Watch Simon Sinek's TEDx talk to learn more!

While this is more of a business-y talk (which is super helpful if you have a business), there are also a lot of takeaways on a personal level too. 

For example:

  • The deepest part of our brains (the limbic system) is connected to purpose and our deepest beliefs and it is responsible for most of our behaviors. Smart companies know this. This is also really helpful if we want to change our own behaviors.
  • People gather for a WHY, not for what, a how, or even a who. 
  • If we want to inspire ourselves and others, we need to get clear on (and communicate) the why.

How to Find Your Why

You might want to know your why for different reasons, whether to start (or stop) doing something, to reignite motivation, or as a tool to align your actions and commitments with your values.

Before you panic, know this: You do NOT have to figure it all out right away. This is more about making a habit of asking “why?” and paying attention to what’s important to you. This is a path and a journey of improvement, not a one-and-done thing. 

Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s…

Dig Into Your Motivations

Dig into your motivations

If you want to change a specific behavior, start by figuring out why you want to change. 

This might have happened naturally to you before.

Maybe a diagnosis inspired you to eat differently or start exercising.

Or a period of major stress inspired you to take up meditation. 

Or a political event led you to get involved with a local activism group.

You had a strong reason for the change, stronger than just wanting to exercise, meditate, or volunteer just because you “should” or because your neighbor is doing it. 

So how can you get that kind of inspiration without a big lighting bolt event like that? Can you manufacture motivation?

You’ve got to find your WHY first. (No scary diagnosis or job change necessary!)

Say you want to start going to bed at 10 pm every night so you can get more sleep. Now, you could just set that intention and hope for the best…but why do you want to go to bed early?

You might say, “Because I want to get more sleep.”

Okay, why?

“Because sleep is good for me.”

Yes, but why? 

“Because sleep helps me recharge so I can think more clearly, be more effective at work, and just feel better.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. 

You want to feel good. You want to be effective in your life. You want to actually be present with your kids in the evenings instead of nodding off in front of the TV because you’re too exhausted to do anything else. 

Connection, feeling good, contribution. Those are WHYs, and far more motivating than trying to force yourself to bed.

Know What You Value

Know what you value

Sometimes, we want to know our whys to help our decision-making, and knowing what to say yes or no to. 

So what do you value? 

Look at your actions and how you spend your time and money. 

Do your actions and beliefs match? If not, it might be time for some reflection!

Spend some time thinking about what really matters to you and what you believe in.

As you gain clarity (because this is a process), use that as a measurement for everything in your life. Does that purchase, action, or choice align with your beliefs? If not, you can choose something else.

Reconnect to What You Love

If you’ve lost touch with your why in an area of your life, 

This is a good time for some Reflection! (Which is one of our Redmond core values.)

Here are some questions to think about. 

Why do you get out of bed in the morning? 

What parts of your work do you love? Why?

Why did you start your job, your family, your business, a hobby, etc.?

You can even look at a list of possible values and note which ones resonate with you.

Other Benefits of WHY

WHY Inspires Cooperation, Not Competition

Competition becomes irrelevant when you know your why. 

When we come across others who share our WHY, we want to work together to make that mission a reality. We have a common purpose that’s bigger than our individual success.

We’re more likely to succeed when we work together than when we go at it alone. If our WHY is to help others or serve a cause that’s bigger than ourselves, then we’ll WANT to work with others who share our mission!

Why Fulfills Us

Why gives us meaning, because a WHY is a purpose.

According to Viktor Frankl’s classic book Man’s Search for Meaning, humans don’t actually need to be happy to be fulfilled. What we need is meaning. Humans can tolerate even unimaginable suffering if they feel like it means something.

We’re not saying you need to suffer to find meaning, we’re just saying that meaning matters more than we might realize!

You don’t have to find an overall life purpose to have meaning (because let’s face it, that’s a lot of pressure!) but knowing what you care about can bring you a lot of fulfillment!

Our Redmond Why

WHY is huge at Redmond. It’s the whole reason why we’re structured as an umbrella with lots of different business units that might not seem related on the surface. 

After all, what does vinyl fencing have to do with bentonite clay? What does raw milk have to do with an Alaskan fishing lodge?

It’s because we’re a mission and people-based company rather than a product-based company. 

It works because all these business units share the same why: To elevate the human experience in body, heart, mind, and spirit.

We can tell you from experience that knowing your WHY can make all the difference.

Make a habit of asking yourself “why,” and see how your life changes!

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