By Rob DeHollander
Ask yourself “Why?”
As 2019 winds to a close, many of us are writing business goals for the new year. Have you ever noticed that most business plans focus on the questions of “what” and “how?” Whether it’s driving more revenue, growing our team or a new marketing initiative, the questions are often:
- What do I want to accomplish next year?
- How will I do it?
- What do I need to improve upon?
These are great questions and it’s essential to have clearly defined goals. However, rather than starting with “what” and “how,” I believe a better question to start with is “why.” When you ask yourself “why,” it changes your view. This often realigns your compass to target what is most important for success and fulfillment.
There’s a famous quote credited to Steven Covey: “It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall.”
Let me share a recent example. I met with a client last month to help write her business plan for 2020. She said her goal for the coming year was to grow her business to $2.5 million. I paused and asked, “Why?”
She thought for a moment and smiled and said “Because $2.5 million is more than $2
I responded, “OK, so let me make sure I understand you. Your driving purpose — the
motivation that gets you out of bed each morning, is to make your business bigger.”
She paused and said, “Well, yes — more successful, really.”
I then asked, “OK, will it bring you closer to your personal goals and make you happier?”
This began an hour-long journey of discovery as we continued to probe using that simple little word — ”why.”
The questions ranged from professional (why this business, why these clients, why doing
business in the Upstate, etc.) to personal (why her family was so important to her, why she
wanted to retire at the coast, and why she worried about her children).
As she spoke her goals aloud, serious disconnects in how she was spending her time and energy became evident. Her personal goals were being affected by the business decisions she was making. There were numerous times where her business goals did not align with her personal goals. We then began to adjust her professional goals to better reflect her priorities, talents and passions.
Do you feel in control of your life? Most of us are motivated by the need for security, a sense of belonging and personal recognition, all of which are important. But in my experience, the most fulfilled people are different. They’re aware of the trap of career, a nicer paycheck or a bigger business. Instead, they are looking for meaning and impact on those they love. Really good business planning should involve a much deeper and more personal level of questioning, reflection, and introspection. I suggest using the question of “why” to determine if you’re using your time, energy and God-given talents in the way that aligns with your life’s purpose.
Purpose is the combination of an inspiring vision and company mission. Once your purpose is clear, it becomes the filter through which your most important decisions are made. Dream big this year and ask yourself “why.” Best wishes to you and your family for a healthy, happy
Robert DeHollander, CFP, is a managing partner and co-founder of the DeHollander & Janse Financial Group, located at 3515 Pelham Road, Suite 100, Greenville; 864-770-0220
Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, member FINRA/SIPC, a registered investment adviser.