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Discover your why

Over in our Creative Passion to Profit Facebook Group we are hosting a challenge to help creatives increase their visibility and grow their businesses. On the first day I asked the members two questions. Why Do You Create? Why Did You Start Your Creative Business?

You’ll find a great deal of variety of answers. Some people were raised with creative parents; some were not. Some expressed their creativity from childhood; some put it on hold and it re-emerged as adults. Some started their businesses with purpose; some started accidentally. You will probably resonate with something someone wrote. You can read the responses or join in here.

Have you ever thought about what your why is? You know, why you do what you do? Why you are in the business you are? Why art or creativity chose you? And why you chose to make it important enough that it is your business?

Frederick Nietzsche said, “He who has a why can endure any how.”  I believe that when you know your why, it helps you figure out meaningful goals that lead to creating a meaningful life. It acts as an anchor when you need to find the courage to keep going or even just to take the next step. It helps you stay motivated and can lead to a life you can only imagine. It even helps you get out of bed in the morning.

Finding your why

That all sounds good, but how do you really find your why? Your why may just come to you easily or it may take lots of thought. (I was in the lots of thought category.) It may also change over time as your life circumstances change.

For years I never really gave it much thought. I was working to add income to our family coffers. When I first started my business, it was actually at our  accountant’s suggestion. He saw I loved quilting and thought I could turn it into a business on the side. That was great, and I never really gave it much more thought. As the years went by, the business grew and changed. I earned a graduate degree in journalism and thought how wonderful it would be to combine the quilting and journalism together, which I did. Again, not really giving it a huge amount of thought as to why beyond I enjoyed it.

About eight or so years ago, I decided to actually put real thought into the process. I can now articulate what I do and why behind it. I believe it is so important to start to do the work of our why that we spend time working on this individually at the Creative Arts Business Summit. And, my private clients also do this work.

Knowing this absolutely makes a difference. Once you figure out your “big why,” you complete your tasks, reach your goals, make a difference in the lives of those you serve, and live your own life with so much more ease.

The circles

One of the ways I went about discovering my why was with what I call the circle exercise. Start by drawing three overlapping circles. (This is also called a Venn Diagram.)

In each circle put what you are passionate about. Then look for how they intersect or what they have in common.

For me, I put creative expression, learning, and girl power in my circles. Once I realized how they connected, I realized why I was doing what I was and what it meant to me on a deeper level.

The brain dump

An easy way to start thinking about your why is to just write down whatever you can think of as a possibility. Don’t edit yourself as you do this.

Examples I’ve seen include to send your kids to private school, to make more money than the ex, to honor your grandmother, to make a difference with kids. The options are varied and endless.

Prompts and questions

The following prompts and questions can help you with either exercise above if you are stuck.

Complete the sentence: “I am doing this because ….”  or “I’m doing this so that….”

What are your innate strengths? What are things you are naturally good at? Sometimes you dismiss these thinking everyone is good at this thing. And how do these connect with your passions?

What gets you out of bed in the morning? What is it that drives you to take inspired action?

What was your youthful joy? Ask people who knew you as a child what they remember about your strengths and passions.

Remember that your why is the driving force behind your actions. We need strong, or Big, Whys to keep going.

Our Big Why can also change over time. It is a good exercise to revisit yours occasionally.

More help

Here are some resources to check out:

How Great Leaders Inspire Action,  a TEDx talk by Simon Sinek.

The Element and Finding Your Element by Ken Robinson, PhD, with Lou Aronica

Your turn!

What is your big why?

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