I always hated running as a kid. I was consistently the slowest runner in my class. I just didn’t enjoy it.
All that changed a few years ago when I found an amazing running gang to join. I had the pleasure of leading a group of incredible running men and women for 3 years in Fort McMurray.
Since then, I’ve done 5 half marathons. Run many times in weather as cold as -30 degrees. Celsius. (In case you’re wondering, yup that’s as cold as it sounds and it hurts.). I’ve run hung-over. I’ve given up mid-run to stop for frozen yogurt.
It’s all been possible because I loved running.
Recently though, I started hating it. Dreading it. Scheduling it and just ignoring the reminders that came up on my phone.
I finally started asking myself “why?”
At first, I asked self-deprecating questions. Like “why am I bailing on running?” That didn’t help. I would answer it with “because I’m lazy. Or stupid.” That kind of talk didn’t get me anywhere. Telling myself I’m lazy and stupid? That’s just not nice. Or true.
So I asked myself the different “why”. I asked “why do I want to run”? And “why is running important to me”? And through this, I rediscovered my LOVE for running.
It’s such a powerful question.
Pair it with WANT and you’ve exponentially grown the power of the question.
Here’s how it worked:
Why do I want to run?
Because I love being outside.
Because it feels so good to move my body.
Because I love getting sweaty.
Why is running important to me?
Because the thrill of a race is one of the most awe-inspiring feelings I’ve ever experienced.
Because there is nothing better than a great running conversation.
Because I want to be active and healthy during my whole, long life.
For the sake of what am I running?
Because each time I do it, I feel incredible afterwards.
Because I want prove to myself that I can do it!
Suddenly, running has become fun again. I’m looking forward to it. I am LOVING it again.
So, what's on your dreaded to-do list? What chore can you redefine? Where can you ask yourself “why is this important”?
What lame-ass thing do you “have to” do this week?
What email are you putting off writing?
What presentation are you dreading creating?
What awkward conversation are you avoiding?
What errand are you procrastinating on week after week?
What exercise commitment are you breaking to yourself?
I ask you:
Why do you want to do it?
For the sake of what are you doing it?
Why is this important to you?
Ask “why”. Why do you “have to” do it?
Is it because you want the best work environment for your team?
Is it because you want to congratulate a colleague on their new job?
Is it because you want to showcase the amazing work of your team in front of your superiors?
Is it because you want nutritional food in your body to give you energy?
Is it because you want a passport to travel to a best friend’s wedding?
Suddenly, you’ll understand why you’re really doing something. You will connect deeply to the powerful motivation, emotions and dreams you have within.
Charles Duhigg says it beautifully in his brilliant book Smarter, Faster, Better. In life, “once we start asking why, those small tasks become pieces of a larger constellation of meaningful projects, goals, projects and values.” You can start to recognize how small chores and tasks are a part of the bigger picture. These tasks tie to the big emotional “what” in your life. They prove that you have choices.
Knowing the “why” reminds you that you are in control of your life.
Doing any of these small tasks and chores on their own often seem boring. Remedial. Stressful.
Yet it is the every day that matters. It is the small things that create the joy in your life. The happiness. The fulfillment. The satisfaction. The memories.
You need to connect these to something you deeply want in your life. Tie them to a DREAM you have. Attach what you’re doing to what you most desire.
Once you make the “why” connection, everything changes. Doing that task, that chore, becomes a gift. Ok – maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. No amount of connection to my desire for hosting awesome guests makes me think cleaning a toilet is a gift. But it certainly shifts my mindset. And it makes what I’m doing a choice.
It reminds me that I’m in control of my life.
And you are in control of your life.
Connecting to your why sparks transformation. Suddenly your “to-do” is meaningful. It becomes an opportunity to create the life you want to live. It’s proof that living a dream life is possible – because you’re DOING IT!
If you don’t have a good “why” answer, I challenge you to reconsider even doing it. And in case you are wondering, “because I have to” is NOT a valid response.
If you don’t have a good reason as to “why”, I challenge you to not do that task.
It’s that simple. It will make the difference. You’ll be living a life that is deliberate. Living a life that is full of “want to’s”.
Living a life that is created by YOUR choices!
That will make you happier. This will make your “to-do” list seem less overwhelming. You’ll be more relaxed. You’ll be more grateful. You’ll be more engaged as you do the things you do during the week because you are CHOOSING to do them. You know WHY you are doing it (and it feels so good!)
Ask WHY. Know why it MATTERS. Reclaim your power to choose.
Create the life YOU want.
PS. On this cloudy Vancouver day, I had to ask myself the “why does this matter” question while writing this too. Happiness, success, pride – it all takes discipline and it’s a constant journey. I’m no exception. If you, like me, need to make asking “why you want it” a habit, here’s some suggestions:
· Create a reminder in your calendar to ask “why does this matter” when you review your to-do list every morning.
· Put a sticky note on your computer to remind yourself.
· Share this newsletter with a friend or partner and commit to each other to ask each other “why is it important” the next time you’re lacking motivation.
· Turn on the “Wannabe” song and crank it when the Spice Girls ask you to “tell me what you want, what you really really want.” After you’re done dancing around the house, make sure you say (or sing!) what you want, what you really really want.
You’ll either find the spark you need to just do it or erase it from your list altogether.
Either way, consider that to-do list crushed!
Zigazig Ah to that!