As a school counselor, I always ask young people about their dreams. What they hope for, where they want to be, who they want friendships with. We ask these questions to motivate and inspire students to really go after what they want. Keeping them motivated for when things don’t go as planned. In identifying the WHY, we can start to visualize the path. I think of the high school senior who just feels “done” with school: their WHY gets them through those last few months. Or the student who is peer pressured by friends: with no parents around, a WHY is the difference between a good choice and…one that probably won’t end well.
As adults, we easily lose sight of our WHY. It gets buried under the daily exhaustion of our day to day. I think back many times to the excitement as a high school senior about to embark on the next chapter of their life…a bit of fear, but mostly excitement with the limitless possibilities of a future they can control. When as adults do we start to lose that passion and excitement? After the grind of a job that feels regular each day? Or the complacency that sets in with the routine of a long-term relationship? Or the feeling that having responsibility also means showing up every day? How do you find and bring back the WHY to the center of our decisions?
For me personally, my WHY has always been there but felt unattainable. For what I really desired was TIME. How do you really achieve extra minutes in a day? How do you slow down the seconds? My kids are getting bigger, my parents are getting older, and my friends are grown up. The responsibilities of being a full time employee, and married mom of four young kids seemed to be a race of waking up to alarms and running (seriously lots and lots of running and not the physical fitness kind!). Then suddenly after 12+hours my day disappeared in an instant, it was time for the bedtime routine, only to wake up to repeat it once more like a never ending game of Groundhog Day.
I couldn’t seem to figure out how to slow things down. When we were all forced to redesign our routines with COVID-19, it felt like a giant smack in the face. For the first time in a long time, my WHY was center stage.
I was home, getting more sleep, spending more quality time with my kids with nowhere to go. Yes, I about pulled all my hair out trying to work full time and get my 4 kids “virtually” schooled but somehow because we were all together I started to not feel as stretched. My WHY was finding its way back to the center.
My WHY is the reason you are reading this! Once my WHY found value I refused to let it slip away. Denny and I have always talked about starting a mobile business, buying a bus and becoming full time travelers. (OK – I talk a lot about it, Denny listens usually with a look that says a mix between “Sounds great” and “How the heck does that lifestyle’s budget work out?”) Some of these were framed as retirement dreams and others were far fetched ideas that were fun to think. BUT…with our WHY now a priority, we both looked at each other and said NOW. If TIME is the priority then we need to put the wheels in motion NOW.
We haven’t bought the bus (yet), but I took a leave of absence from my job, started Embracing Your Means, started homeschooling the kids, and put plans in motion to see more locally until we can live authentically our ultimate adventure. Denny has a job that requires much less travel than he used to, so he’s home every night and weekend; and we all see each more. And more importantly, we see each other the way it feels like on vacation, waking up when we want to, eating breakfast together, getting a few important tasks done, learning what we feel like learning, playing games together, and having alone time to enjoy with ourselves. Looking from the outside in, very little has changed in our life, but EVERYTHING has changed in our life. If you found your WHY, you’re living your dream, no matter what it is.
I encourage you to recenter your WHY. Knowing your WHY creates the path.
Love yourself the way you are, and Embrace Your Means!