Ask Why

New Year’s Day is nearly upon us. And as we say goodbye to the year that has been, goals become the topic that many wish to discuss. New Year’s Resolutions become all the buzz for some time as everyone gets drunk on the idea of “new year; new you!”. On a typical year, I seldom dive much into the debate as I rarely, if ever, set myself get wrapped up in the craze. Partly because I know that change happens when one is ready, not simply because the year on the calendar changes. Sure, there is the sense of a newness from that simple uptick of a number, that is understandable.

Too often, we see these goals falter. Jokes abound of the surge in gym memberships at the start of the year that appear to be nothing more than a donation to keep the gyms in business. And getting to the gym to “get in shape” is only one of the more common resolutions that end a few days or weeks into the calendar. Too often we find that these new goals give way to old routines. Anecdotally, I see this as a mismatch between the goals/resolutions and the reasons for doing them.

There is one question that I ask when I am seeking to make a change in my life: “Why?”

This is a rather basic question. It seeks one thing: the reason. If one keeps asking it, one can often get to the core reason something is being done. Business captures this in the snazzy Root-Cause Analysis method of “The 5 Whys”. Or it might be better known through the curious kid repeating that question until the adult, exasperated, shrugs and says “I don’t know”. Why ask why? We should ask it to seek the core purpose behind wanting to make a change. Superficial reasons, for instance, are empty and tend to be some of the fastest ways to have a goal drop. “Looking good” is one such reason for the goal of weight loss. Health is a deeper motivation and is one that could push one towards a more sustained change.

We need to know the purpose of making a change before we can do it. And the more important and deep the meaning, the more effort we will put into sustainment. It also gives us the opportunity to determine how important that reason is when compared to what the change might impact — because making changes in one part of life will affect others.

Change is a necessary, and often unavoidable part of life. Whether we change at the dawn of a new year or we make the change when we feel it time. Either way, be sure of why.

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