Before you fly… Find your why!

Find out what inspires you to do what you do

So, you’ve decided to do your own thing and start living life on your own terms. But where in the world do you start? In short, you start with why. 

It’s a cliché to “find your why, ” but the principle is sound. It’s from Simon Sinek, David Mead and Peter Docker’s very good companion book, Find Your Why.

Golden Circle

In short, to work out HOW you’re going to make a living online, first work out WHY.

Simon Sinek's find your why Golden Circle showing Why, How and What in concentric circles

As Simon explains using his Golden Circle analogy, every business or organisation can articulate what they do – and, the vast majority, how they do what they do. Very few can explain why they do what they do – and that’s how you start to inspire people. Simon believes that you will not only feel fulfilled but achieve so much more when you start with “why” because, as he says, “people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it”

Perhaps you passionately want to help people or strongly believe in a cause. It’s the true purpose that inspires you to do what you do (sometimes called your ‘why statement’ or origin story). And if that driving force is just, ‘I never want to take orders from some 24-year-old kid with no life experience ever again’, that’s absolutely fine, too. It’s actually pretty similar to my starting point.

Picture of a caption asking "what's your why?"

Why Discovery Process

So, where do you begin? In this ‘find your why’ discovery process, there are 5 areas to consider. This is a practical guide, so it’s worth dividing a piece of paper into the 5 sections below and, under each heading, writing a list of everything you can think of. It doesn’t matter if anything sounds ridiculous or wildly optimistic. At this stage, you just want to capture everything because it might spark other/better ideas later.

1.     Expertise

This should be your starting point. For instance, taking what you earn a living from now (or in a previous job) and turning it into a digital version to sell online is the shortest route to success because it’s a subject you’re clearly very knowledgeable on, and you already make money from it… albeit via your employer.

If the whole point of leaving your day job behind is to get as far away as possible from your current industry, that’s also fine. That was one of my reasons for leaving. So, make a list of what else you’re good at:

  • What do you naturally excel at?
  • What comes easily to you but not to others?
  • What have people told you you’re good at? (If not sure, ask a friend/spouse.)
  • What skills do you have?
  • What do people come to you for help with?

2.     Experience

Next, list your experience. This may not always be obvious because you don’t have to be an expert. If you can do something better than most people, you have knowledge you can monetize. If you can then add a unique viewpoint, angle or understanding, you could transform a little knowledge into a compelling offering that nobody else can.

  • What have you had training in?
  • Were there any parts of your old job(s) that you enjoyed?
  • Were there other jobs at your old company that looked really interesting to you?
  • What have you done that most people haven’t?
  • What struggles have you overcome?
  • What goals have you achieved?

3.     Passions

Write out all your hobbies and interests – the things you get excited about. The more fired up you are about a subject, the more likely you are to stick with it day in and day out – as well as to create a quality product. And when it’s obvious that you love what you do, others are drawn to that passion and fire.

  • Which subjects do you love to read about or watch TV programs about?
  • What do you love talking or thinking about?
  • What can’t you get enough of? What lights you up?
  • If you could wave a wand and choose any subject, what would it be?
  • Is there a charity or cause you feel very strongly about?

4.     Values

You may have strong beliefs that guide your actions in life. You might find them pushing you towards certain areas, or perhaps you sometimes wish you’d trained in another profession. For instance, my wife hates unfairness. It’s a big driver for her – it’s why she occasionally wishes she’d become a lawyer and the main reason she works in the charity sector.

  • What are the core beliefs that guide your behaviours and interactions?
  • Do you have a personal code of conduct that influences your decisions?
  • What do you long for other people to do better?
  • What do you love (or hate) that other people do?
  • Is there a need for something you see in the world?

5.     Leverage

This is about your connections, who you know and what doors they could open. If your best friend owns a T-shirt manufacturing company, and you love creating designs… worth considering.

  • Are most of your friends working in one particular sector?
  • Do you have any family or friends in a very senior role?
  • Do you have contacts in your own areas of interest?

Ideally, you’re looking for something that ticks all 5 headings, but that rarely happens. So, dig deep and look again at your lists and see if you can identify themes between any of the 5 different areas. Is there a subject that keeps coming up? Is there something that leaps off the page at you immediately? Are there perhaps 2 or 3 things that look promising, but you’re not sure which way to go? Remember, you’re discovering purpose behind what you really want out of life.

It can help to ask friends, family, or people you really trust in your professional life, what they think your strengths are. You can even pull together a ‘why team’ and see which words or subjects come up most often to get a clear understanding of what you’re good at. Prepare to be surprised: things you can do really easily often don’t feel like skills because they’re so easy.

A smiling woman working from from her kitchen table and loving it

Why Statement

At this point, if you want to dig deeper, some people find it helpful to write a personal statement that includes their core values and main priorities in life. It can narrow your focus and really hone in on what it is that drives you – and, from there, what you want to do next on your journey.

Validation

Now we’ll try to choose one idea by finding out if there’s an existing market for your potential product(s). Will people pay for them? After all, the point of all this is to make money, as well as fire your passion. Where about you validate online will depend on the subject you choose. So, here are some platforms to check:

  • Google
  • Amazon
  • Udemy
  • YouTube
  • Etsy
  • Social media
  • Podcasts
  • Facebook groups
  • Forums (Reddit, Quora)

Then, you can get really fancy and look up a topic in Google Keyword Planner, which will tell you how many people have been searching for it in the last 30 days. Google Trends is another great tool to discover what people are searching for. (Both are completely free to use.)

Man holding a magnifying glass to see opportunities

Opportunities

A further option is to think about people’s pain points or frustrations. What problems can you solve? Helping people is usually the most rewarding part of any enterprise. And it is often said that if you just set out to help people, the money will follow. People respond to the authenticity of someone who just wants to help or make the world a better place.

So, define a problem and then devise a solution. Maybe you worked out a way around a previous issue.

If you’re still unsure which category to choose, perhaps knowing what kind of product you want to sell will help. You can reverse engineer it: look at your list and see which topics will work with that particular product. Move on to the next category to discover how to find or create your own digital products.

FAQs

What does it mean to ‘find your why’?

Essentially, it is finding your purpose and what really motivates you. This should bring meaning to your life and a sense of fulfilment. It may sound somewhat nebulous, but finding it can really help motivate and drive you forward, whether that’s in your job, career or personal life. Having something that gets you up in the morning beyond just ‘paying the bills’ is a huge advantage. Simon Sinek was depressed and had lost any sense of purpose in his life. That’s why his book exists, and helping others in this situation find the answer is his ‘why’.

If you find your why, what are the benefits?

If you’ve ever felt lost in life or unfulfilled at work, having a purpose can change that. It can also put your career on a path which better aligns with that purpose and can help future decision-making. Other people are often drawn to that purpose, too.

Can a company have a ‘why’?

Absolutely. The most successful companies do. Apple’s motto is “Think different”, which perfectly describes their ‘why’ and explains how they became the most successful computer brand despite cheaper rivals. If a company’s values align with your own, you’re far more likely to buy from that company over any other.

Click on another of the 4 modules in the Butterfly System to learn more…