Why? Is a Powerful Word

Photo: Atrium, The Guggenheim, New York, Sept 2019

Last week’s blog post was a long one, so this week I’m keeping it short, plus I’ve been focusing on compiling my Resources page! (More on that next week). Reflecting on the couple of weeks since I started writing here and thinking about what today’s post should be, I settled on the fundamental question of Why?

Why am I writing a blog when I am usually a fairly private person? Why now? Why is this pandemic happening? Why are so many people dying? Why am I making certain choices and decisions? Why can I not turn down the chatter in my mind? There are so many why’s out there it’s overwhelming.

Simon Sinek https://simonsinek.com/ is a bit of an expert on this question and he encouraged us to ‘Start With Why’ to understand how great leaders inspire us to take action. In my field of work, understanding the ‘Power of Why’ is also important when it comes to storytelling and influencing people to behave in a certain way.

I’ve also just finished reading an inspirational book by triathlete Sue Reynolds https://suereynolds.net/ who quotes how she finally began to conquer her obesity by fundamentally shifting her ‘Why’. Without fully understanding her intrinsic motivation (which had nothing to do with other people’s expectations or her appearance) she had never been successful in the past.

Often our lives these days are so driven by tasks, outcomes and to-do lists that I think pausing to ask ‘Why Am I Doing This?’ is a lost art, which has a detrimental impact on living a purposeful life rich with meaning. For example, as I head towards age 50, I am qualified and have enough work experience and skills to do many different things. What will drive my decisions for the next phase or ‘season’ of my life, when my priorities now are very different from when I started my career at age 22?

What we consciously choose to do with our time each and every day is incredibly important and I’ve come to learn that most of us have more control over this than we think. To keep this post short, I’m going to focus on answering just one of my own questions: why am I writing a blog?

1. I want to share information that helps people

As someone who reads a lot and is endlessly curious, I find so much value and inspiration in exploring the thoughts and ‘life experiments’ of other people who are asking important questions, or have overcome challenges. Often I am referred onwards to other resources – which may be written, or podcasts, or videos – that teach me something else, or prompt further exploration.

We live in a time where we are overloaded with streams of ‘shallow’ information and soundbites where ‘deeper’ and more meaningful thought is becoming lost. I hope that even a handful of people might find their way to my blog and find a nugget of information that helps them. Helping people makes me feel good. (There may be a heavy dose of narcissism involved in such feelings, but I choose to see it as a constructive focus of the reward centres of my human brain).

2. Writing helps bring a sense of order to my messy thoughts

As I suffer from anxiety, I’ve often been encouraged to keep a journal or to write things down at the end of the day to help me process my thoughts and stop them whirring around in my brain. Although I know beyond all doubt that this works, I’ve never been any good at doing it! I’ve now accepted this as one of my (myriad of) limitations and writing a blog seems to help fulfil this need.

I’ve come to realise that as someone who has lived most of her life as an extrovert, I really enjoy conversation and I’m still learning how to focus inwards and reflect more – these are new skills I’ve learned through therapy only in the last few years. My blog is a conversation with my imagined readers (even if there aren’t any!). Writing things down does have a cathartic element to it and I definitely felt a sense of release and freedom after my last post which although painful to write, brought me some closure and a chance to move on.

3. I hope to connect with interesting people, thoughts and ideas from around the world

My favourite subjects at school were Art, Geography and Languages and I went on to study Geography at university, (later returning to higher education to study Interior Design). I was fortunate to be brought up in a home where the ‘National Geographic’ magazine was one of the most important ‘books’ and I’ve always been fascinated by the world, other cultures and how things work. Although I have a difficult time managing my exposure to the internet and social media, I do appreciate how it enables us to connect with people across the globe like never before. I love to question and challenge my thoughts and beliefs – respectful and healthy debate is a wonderful thing.

4. Creating things brings me joy

Although this is number four on the list, it may be number one in terms of importance. I know that when I create things, rather than consuming them, I am happier and more fulfilled. End of!

These are the first four things that come to mind this week, but it will be interesting to revisit them in the future to see if they change. I’d encourage you to find a few moments each day to focus on your ‘Why’ instead of the ‘What’ and ‘How’ and see how it shifts your focus. It may not be easy to do, but it may also be incredibly rewarding.

Thanks for reading.

S x

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