Focus On the Why

Circles within circles (detail), From the series Suspended Beliefs, 2013, Ink, collage and manual typewriter on paper 36 x 8.5 inches

Hopes and dreams are that magic motivation that pushes us forward and helps us achieve our desires. Without that burning desire, would the Wright brothers ever have built a plane or Steve Jobs have co-created Apple?

What is a reason you woke up today? A reason you’re motivated? A reason you started your business or took that job? Don’t lose sight of your why.

If you start feeling you’ve lost sight of your why, it’s time to reevaluate, especially if you’ve lost the why of starting your own business.

The sightline to our dreams can get blurry at times but luckily there are exercises to help refocus and make it sharp again. Some of my favorite practices for this are meditation, mantras, written reflection, and intenSati.

Meditation
To-do lists, metrics, data, and analytics are tools that can help us in business but if we leave those thoughts and tasks floating around our head they can start to distract us from seeing our why.

Meditation allows us a way to clear our head of those thoughts floating around so we can focus on our why: Why we enjoy life. Why we look forward to the next day. Why we do the work we do.

Meditating at the end of each work day can help us better prepare for the next day with a clear focus on our why.

Mantras
Mantras are mottos that help remind us of our purpose, our hopes, our why.

I like to keep an inspirational quote on my mirror so I see it each day when I’m getting ready. The one currently on my mirror reads:

Are you courageous? Then show it to me with your unparrelleled happiness.” – Sri Chinmoy

Mantras can be repeated to help us refocus on our why. Pick a mantra. Say it out loud each morning and repeat it to yourself whenever you feel you’re losing sight of your why to help bring it back in focus. You can even set all your passwords to act as reminders of your mantras such as password like Ilovelife.

Written Reflection
Letting our mind wander with thoughts of fear about what will happen, what if I fail, or where will this lead is no more than worrying. Worrying lets fear and doubt get the best of us and obscure us from clearly seeing our why. Taking those thoughts and weekly reflecting on them through constructive writing can help us clear away obstructions from our why so we can see them more clearly.

Here are some writing exercises I encourage you to try this week. I recommend writing these on Sunday in preparation of the coming week and reflecting on the previous week:

What is one thing I can do this week to help me achieve my why?

What is one thing I can do to make this week great?

What are three awesome things that happened this week?

intenSati
intenSati is a form of mind-body practice in which you repeat affirmations while also acting out those affirmations with our bodies. This practice helps remind us we have control over both our thoughts and bodies and can focus that to help us achieve our desires.

For example, if we want to instill feelings of victory then we repeat the affirmation “I achieve victory” while extending our arms up over our head in a V and running in place in the pose of victory.

There are many poses and many affirmations in the practice of intenSati. You can find out more of these exercises and a schedule of classes at SatiLife.

While these practices can help us keep our sights on our why, it’s also important to know when you’ve lost or need to reevaluate your why and when it’s time to move on in pursuit of a new path. That new path could be a new position at work, reassessing a business, or selling the business and moving on to a completely new venture. Even Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985 but returned in 1997 to make Apple the brand we know today.

In the words of Anatole France, “To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan but also believe.”

Keep dreaming and focus on your why.

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