whats-my-whyAs I start a new business venture, I am spending  time training and working on my own personal development. I have not read so many books since I left graduate school.  I am reading about business, listening to TED talks, watching YouTube videos and listening to business and inspirational CD’s.  A thread that runs through much of this personal development material about starting  and running a successful business is how to “Find Your Why”, or why we do what we do.

I never gave much thought about what drove me in my past business ventures, but now that I am studying and working on personal development I have looked back to reflect on why I did what I did to build my businesses.

When I started my first business, a CPA firm, it was exciting and challenging and although I enjoyed the business, it was not my lifelong dream to do accounting and taxes.  At that time, I had two small children and my husband was ill, so my reason, or my “Why,” for starting and running a business was to take care of my family. When it became clear that my husband’s illness was no longer life-threatening and he was doing quite well in his career, I realized that my priority had changed.  So I sold my business and decided to stay home and focus on my children.

My second business was very different. When I decided to open a dance studio for adults, it was very exciting for me because of my lifelong love of dance.  I was obsessed with opening this studio and I charged ahead without giving any thought to “Why”.  I love running my studio, meeting with clients, being around artists and dancers, and listening to a great variety of music.  While opening this business, I was going through a divorce and both of my children had left for college. Many of my clients  are experiencing  similar life changing events when they come to dance, meet new people and, many times, to heal. Though I did  not know the “Why” for starting the studio,  my desire to help these women and to offer my instructors a chance to share their love of dance has been the driving force that has kept me going. This is my “Why.”

My life took a turn in June when I discovered that I am going to be a grandmother.  I would like to have more time to travel to see my children. I need to find more help with running the studio so I can concentrate on building my new business, which offers me more flexibility because I can work from anywhere, and offers me additional income.  With my new business, I am taking time to be strategic and think about why I want this opportunity.

In What’s Your Why, renowned speaker, educator, author, activist and minister Eric Thomas says that to achieve your goal, you must know your “Why”. He gave the example of athletes striving to win games for their coaches or for their mothers. In those cases, the “Why” drove them to practice harder, work harder, and to win games and championships.

My daughter lives in Santa Monica, CA and my son and daughter-in-law, who are about to be parents, live in New York City. What is driving me to succeed in my new business is the fact that I don’t want to miss out on any more of their lives.  Now that I have identified my “Why”, working toward my goal just got a whole lot easier.