For anyone starting out a career, creating a business, or even picking a major, discovering our “why” first gives purpose to what we decide to do.
We spend a ton of time working on the “how” we’re going to make something work, the “who” we’re going to market to, and even the “what” we’re going to create, sell or produce.
All of these elements are important when running a successful business, executing a new project, or working on a degree, but if you can’t identify a solid “why” behind what you’re doing, then what is it all worth?
Discovering My “Why”
I remember in college when I was trying to decide on a major, I put so much pressure on figuring out the “why” before I made my decision. For a hot minute, I thought I wanted to be a dentist (that quickly changed after almost failing chemistry 101).
I distinctly remember that my “why” for that career path would be to make it easier for everyone to smile more. Looking back, that sounds like a cheesy ad for Crest white strips or something. Who knows where I pulled that one from, but I thought it was cute!
So after taking a few of those courses and personality tests that are supposed to tell you what you should do with your life, I only came to this conclusion: I just want to help people and I want to be good at it.
So I majored in one of the only things I was good at – basically, fashion merchandising and marketing – and I thought I would figure out how to help people with that.
Little did I know that my real “why” wouldn’t come until years later.
The mistake I made there was assuming that everyone finds the purpose of their work before they even start doing the work.
For many people, it’s very clear to them early on what they want to do and why they want to do it. I’ve always envied those kind of people. I can’t even decide what I want to eat before the waiter comes to the table to take our order!
Lucky for me, I’ve found my “why” in the trenches. And by trenches, I mean closets and dressing rooms.
I find it every time a new client opens up about why they’re holding on to clothes from 20 years ago. I find it every time I bring a client a dress that fits them perfectly and makes them light up. I get to find it in all the insecurities and rough patches that tend to hide inside of closets.
How could I have ever known the real importance of a wardrobe when I just started? I could have never learned the lessons I’ve learned without doing the work first.
My “Why” and Fashion
Here’s another classic 20-something epiphany that has helped me figure out my “why”: the older you get, you’ll gain life lessons that can be translated into your work and career.
Of course this is nothing new; you live and you learn. The big life lesson that I have gained over just the last 6 months or so is realizing how many things are totally out of our control.
I know this is so obvious, but sometimes people get sick and there’s nothing they can do. People get hurt and there’s nothing that they can do. Bad things will happen, and sometimes there’s truly nothing we can do about it. Frankly, it sucks.
But, it was important for me to recognize this because it made me put more value on what we can control.
Even if it’s something as small as reorganizing a closet, that’s still one thing that we can have total control over. We can control what we decide to eat everyday, we can control how we’re going to move, we can control our attitudes. I think there is so much power in having that small amount of control.
Control how you step out into the world everyday and how you present yourself. Control how you show up for others. That’s my “why” behind what I get to do everyday- I get to help people control what they can, so when something comes along that they can’t control, they’ll show up as their best self.
Go For Your “Why”
If you have already found your “why”, that’s amazing! You should let it motivate you everyday. If you don’t feel like you’ve found it yet, just keep working and looking for it. You might find it during the work like I did.
It might even change the more you live and learn. However you find it, let your “why” fill you up and push you forward.