How to Develop a “Why” Statement

By Katie Corbett

Ever had one of those days when you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” On a microscale, it can be productive to evaluate the purpose for certain practices such as job hunting methods, interviewing techniques, and wording used on a résumé. If you find yourself questioning your vocational goals on a grand and frequent scale, however, development of a “why” statement, or purpose statement, can bring clarity, help you find like-minded people and provide vigor and steadfastness during times of uncertainty.

The book, “Start with Why,” by Simon Sinek, along with the “Start with Why Podcast,” outlines how to develop a statement of purpose. Complete the sentence: My purpose is to _____________, so that __________. For example, my “why” is to encourage people to overcome challenges, so that they can find happiness and fulfillment in their lives. This is why I’m a career coach, and this is why I’m writing this blog. I believe both these pursuits give me a tangible outlet for my purpose.

It’s important to note that developing your purpose statement isn’t going to happen overnight. When it comes to purposeful accomplishment, the motivations for our behaviors originate in the emotional portion of the brain. This region is not part of the rational area responsible for language and can therefore make it difficult for us to discover and process why we do what we do. Take a few days to think about your reasons and motivations. Talk it over with a friend to help you find the right words to express your “why.” It’s worth taking the time and being thorough in your search.

This process can assist individuals and businesses alike. In his book, Sinek explains how developing a “why” statement helped Apple remain on top of the technology world. Wal-Mart isn’t what it used to be because it hasn’t consistently stuck with its “why.” TiVo completely failed because it’s founders and advertisers didn’t discover and use its “why” to attract ideal customers. I won’t go into specifics here, but let’s just say that success and developing a strong and clear “why” can mean the difference between succeeding against all odds or failing miserably. Read the book for more details, and get working on your “why” statement. When times of uncertainty hit, you’ll be the one who knows why you get up in the morning. Won’t that be a great feeling?

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