When I was in high school I was not a good student, at all. I remember once my dad offering to get me a used car if I got honor roll. This was not an offer one would expect from my father. Seems he knew me better than I knew myself.
Two weeks into the semester I started to question my efforts. “Well…I don’t really need a car. I can just catch a ride with my friends!” Why was I working toward honor roll? For a car. The car was my “why”, it wasn’t very strong for me.
My academic efforts are laughable compared to the students I work with now. Their schedules, their class load, the extra curricular activities, it’s pretty extraordinary what these kids do. As amazing as they are, they still get overwhelmed. Many students have filtered into my office in tears and distress over the work they are putting in. I don’t blame them, it’s a lot! When they come in I have been asking them what their “why” is. “Why did you choose this school?” “Why are you working so hard?” Often they are unsure. I get vague answers like, “Get a good education”, “Go to a good college”, all good things, but not very specific and not very convincing. When I talk with them through it, some seem to have a revelation or reassurance of why they are doing what they are doing. They have a renewed sense of purpose in work they are pouring themselves into.
Even as adults we can just plow through life, caught in the routine and absent of the sense of why we wake up every morning and do what we do. It’s also possible that our “why” has changed. The world around us can be convincing like that. Why are you working 80 hours a week? Why are you living in debt? Why are you so busy with activities? Why do you live where you live? Why do you do what you do?
I’m convinced that when we understand why we do what we do, truly why, it drives us through the hard times. When we remember why we set our goals and why our lives are headed in the direction they are, there’s meaning and purpose.
Whether you need to figure out the “why” or remember the “why”, take some time and think about it. Stop wandering aimlessly or allowing other people to determine your direction. Establish your “why”. -jason