Dying Daily #274: Knowing Your Why

Back to follow-through.

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. – Friedrich Nietzsche

To do something big, whether it’s a change of habit or a new project or something else, we will not follow through unless we know why we are doing it.

Change is hard, projects are hard, everything is hard, and it will all fall apart if we don’t have clear reasons for attempting any of it. We often start things on a whim or because of a momentary passion for them or because someone else suggests it. These are all recipes for failure unless we really know why we are bringing this new thing into our life.

Here are a few questions it might be useful to ask before starting something new:

What draws me to this project?

How does it connect with something I care I about in life?

Do I know what I really care about in life?

How is this going to benefit me and the people I love?

How much time will this cost me on a daily basis?

How much money?

Do I have room for this in my life?

When will I complete this project? (you need a concrete time frame here, not “soon” or “quickly”)

Have I started similar projects and abandoned them?

What will make this one different? (you need concrete answers here, no “pull myself up by bootstraps, try really hard, dedicate myself” type nonsense)

What am I doing to prepare for this project?

Will this make me a better person?

Will this help other people?

There are a million other questions to ask yourself, but these are probably a good start. It may seem like a lot, but if you aren’t willing to sit down and work through questions like these, I am not sure you have any business starting something new. These questions are a minimal commitment.

More than anything, keep a firm grip on why you want to do this new thing. Jot this down wherever you will see it frequently and refer back to it. Anything that doesn’t line up with this why has to be disregarded immediately.

Know your why. Everything else is easy.