Why Staying Focused on Your 'Why' Is Key to a Happy Life
It's easily to get distracted and lose track of what you most value. takes tremendous courage to step back, look at yourself and examine your why, but it's so worth it.
Thanks for reading Almost Sated, a newsletter about the messy process of detoxing from diets, diet culture and self-suppression. Occasionally, I venture off topic. If you like what you’re reading, please consider subscribing and sharing! It’s free to join, and subscribing ensures you never miss a post!
A few weeks ago, I had a fairly overdue session with my therapist. Something really important came out of it, a suggestion from her on how to help me stay focused on my purpose.
There’s never been a time in history when it’s easier to get lost. Modern life has an endless list of distractions, and a lot of times we’re simply flitting from one distraction to the next, doing for doing’s sake. It’s also easy to get caught up in hustle culture and the “need-to-do-it-all” mentality. I’m guilty of these things. I also have a lot of interests and curiosities and like to tinker and test things out and can easily get lost in the weeds.
Thanks for reading Almost Sated! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
This isn’t always a bad thing, either. It can be a super power, too. I go really deep on the things that interest me and can easily block out the rest of the world. But because of this, I can also get so deep that I completely lose sight of why I started down a particular path. Since I am working toward a full-time writing career (with a side of marketing), I’ve discovered there are a lot of paths. And there is a lot of work. It doesn’t come easy, despite what I’ve read on the internet, and that creates its own sort of cognitive dissonance. Am I on the right path? Why isn’t this working? Why isn’t this as easy as it looks for everyone else? Am I doing it wrong? Is the problem me? I think the problem is me.
Anyone else here have this kind of inner monologue? It was shocking to learn some people don’t. My husband is one of those rare breeds, which is what makes him both a badass and an alien from another planet.
Some days, I cannot turn it off. And it’s been happening a lot in the last few months.
So my therapist suggested I start each day with two centering questions: What is my purpose and how do I want to show up today?
Ideally, I think I’d be doing this as part of a meditation practice, but I don’t meditate every day. (Ok, ok, I haven’t meditated in at least a month.) So I did the next best thing and created a Google doc with these questions and eagerly set about filling in my answers every morning. It worked great for a couple of weeks, but this week I fell off. I told myself I was so busy with my deadlines and deliverables that I needed to dive head first every morning into the urgent tasks and skip the why.
And it’s been an enormous struggle. Just when I was feeling so good about our relationship, the creative muse ghosted me. And then I lost focus. I’ve been all over the place. I had assignments to finish and prep work for an upcoming podcast, and those assignments took me longer than expected, which created a ripple effect and and more pressure, and then without the focus, I started spiraling into second-guessing myself. Oh, this is not a place you want to be. It was time to take a step back.
Why It’s So Important to Know Your Why
Sometimes we are just muddling along. I’ve been there. I think most of the world spends most of their time auto-piloting versus living purposefully.
There are good—well, understandable—reasons for this. Living purposefully takes a lot of energy. It also forces you to take a hard look at yourself and your habits—how you spend your time, who you surround yourself with. Many people cannot do this with themselves. Sure, there’s ego involved, but a lot of times, there are also traumas and negative coping strategies that get in the way. It takes tremendous courage to step back, look at yourself and examine your why or whys.
Here are a few reasons why knowing your why is crucial:
It gives you clarity and purpose. When you have a clear understanding of why you’re doing something, it fuels your motivation and helps you stay focused on your goals.
It serves as an anchor during times of uncertainty and doubt. When faced with challenges or setbacks, knowing your purpose and the reasons behind your actions helps you stay resilient and adaptable.
It gives you a sense of meaning and fulfillment, so your work is more rewarding.
It helps you more easily align your actions with your core values. It helps you make choices and decisions that truly matter to you, which gives you a greater sense of authenticity and leads to a more fulfilling life.
It provides a framework for decision-making and prioritization. It allows you to assess opportunities, set priorities, and allocate your time and resources effectively.
It leads to self-awareness and personal growth. By delving into your deeper motivations, desires, and values, you gain a deeper understanding of yourself.
As you read through this list, which one really resonated? For me, it was bullet no. 5. Without clear focus on my why, I wasn’t able to effectively make decisions or prioritize my time. I was overwhelmed and lost sight of what’s important.
I have several big whys in my life right now and the biggest one is to use my writing to help myself and others.
My entire purpose in starting this Substack was to help myself and others going through a similar transition. I wanted to heal my relationship with food so I could model a better way of living for myself and my kids. I thought if I somehow made peace with food, I would make peace with my body and my being. I would be good enough just as I was. I still have work to do on this, but I’ve come far enough along with intuitive eating that I realize it’s less about me and more about a society that views thinness as the only acceptable way of being.
Meanwhile, there are people like myself who have spent their lives dieting and pursuing weight loss at all costs and have failed repeatedly. Unlike myself, they are now willing to take drugs that haven’t been studied long-term for the rest of their lives just so they can appear the way society deems acceptable. We can call this vanity, but that'’s not always a fair or accurate label. And, yes, some are doing it for medical reasons, but many more are doing it so that they no longer face shame, stigma and discrimination. (Although, apparently they are still facing shame because they didn’t lose the weight the hard way.)
So my why shifted. Yes, I want to model a better path for me, but I also want to help dismantle these systems of oppression that are keeping so many people in their own prisons.
I have more whys, of course. You do, too. And the more we can get really clear on our whys, the more purposeful we can live. Maybe finding and having purpose isn’t your reason for being, and that’s ok, but it’s probably the most important thing driving me.
And Now for a Quick Reader Check-In
Hey friends! June has been a good month for me, and since I added a few new subscribers, I wanted to get everyone’s thoughts. Originally, I started this Substack to chronicle my transition to intuitive eating. As time has gone on, I’ve begun writing about larger issues than just myself. I enjoy doing a mix of both, but I would love to hear what you enjoy. Would you consider taking this poll for me? Feel free to share your thoughts in comments too. Voting is only open to subscribers (this is a Substack thing), but if you’re reading and haven’t yet subscribed, I would love it if you did!
Thanks for reading Almost Sated. Right now, I’m focused on getting this newsletter into the hands of people who need it. If you found what you read interesting, encouraging, or helpful, please make sure you’re subscribed and consider sharing it with others.
Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.