Why You Need to Ask Why

I came across this quote by James Allen yesterday, and it keeps replaying over and over in my mind:

“For true success ask yourself these four questions: Why? Why not? Why not me? Why not now?” 

So what’s the answer to these questions? I find that I spend a lot of time focusing on the whats and whens in my life, primarily these two questions — What do I need to do? When do I need to do it?

When you have a lot going on, you often stay in this mode, living from the checklist. But remaining in the “what and when mode” is a dangerous trap, and it often leads to feeling stuck. The checklist begins to look overwhelming, and you can feel the burnout approaching.

It’s important to understand more than just what needs to be done and by when. There needs to be clarity about the WHY. In an organizational context, most employee frustrations come from not understanding whys: Why are we doing this? Why is this change occurring? And often (especially when there’s a lack of personal accountability), why me?

On a personal level, we also have to understand the reasons for our behavior, as well as the reasons for our procrastination and/or inaction. Why am I making the choices I’m making? Why am I not moving forward in this area? Why does this same task remain on my checklist week after week? Why didn’t I accomplish this?

We need to seek clarity about our life’s purpose and goals. When that clarity exists and our WHYs are clear, we not only know what needs to be done and by when, but we know why it’s important and what will motivate us to stay the course. When we encounter obstacles along the way (and inevitably we will), we can get back on track by reminding ourselves why this goal matters. Truly, we can accomplish anything if the WHY is strong enough.

So ask yourself these four questions today:

Why? Why not? Why not me? Why not now?

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