Want To Achieve A Big Goal? Better Know Your “Why!”


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The street corner marked the end of my eight mile run, and upon reaching it I peeled off my tank top. It was soaking wet from being in the rain for just over an hour, and I rang it out as I walked the final block to my drive way. I opened my front door to see my wife looking at me with eyes wide open and a smile on her face.

“I look out the window and see this beast walking up the driveway without a shirt on!”

She went on to explain that it wasn’t just the fact that I had removed my shirt, but also the way I was carrying myself, and the look of determination on my face. What she didn’t know was that during that 70 minute run in the ever increasing rain, I had found my “why.”

I’ve been hearing the concept of needing to know your “why” for several years. For any goal that you are trying to achieve, being able to succinctly articulate why you do what you do can motivate you through difficult times, and drive you to do your best. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the reason behind why I put my mind and body through the adversity and pain of marathon training. I’ve even written down several things that I was sure qualified as my “why.”

  • To use my abilities to their fullest
  • To someday qualify for the Boston Marathon
  • To inspire others

These are all well-intentioned and honorable reasons to run marathons, but none of them really resonated with me. Whenever I’d look at these reasons, I simply asked myself the question, “But, why?” During that eight mile run, as the rain came down harder and harder, my mind started to think about how miserable I should be. But I didn’t feel miserable. I felt like the run would make me both physically and mentally stronger and help propel me along my goal to qualify for Boston. I thought about what it would feel like to stand at the starting line of the Boston Marathon. I imagine it would feel amazing, and I want to know what that feels like.

I want to know what amazing feels like.

Suddenly I not only had a crystal clear goal in front of me, but I also knew why I wanted to reach it. That realization was the reason behind the confidence in my step, and the determination on my face as I walked through the door.

This applies to any goal a person looks to accomplish. It’s easy to identify big goals, and with a little work one can even create a plan of action to achieve those goals. But there has to be something for a person to pull from when the going gets tough, and there will be challenges along the way that make continuing on difficult. You have to be able to remind yourself why you started this journey, and what will be missing from your life if you give up. Once you find that reason, once you find your, “why,” you will find yourself with determination and resolve that you didn’t know you had. It won’t make achieving your goal easier, but it will give you the strength to keep fighting when the voices in your head are telling you to stop.

The last two miles of my run were in a rain hard enough that I had just gave up wiping the water away from my eyes. My shoes were water logged and my feet were wet. My shorts were drenched, and my inner thighs were rubbing together in a way that I knew would cause painful chafing later in the day. I just kept saying to myself, “I want to know what amazing feels like,” and I just kept running.

When we were paying off our credit card debt the goal was clear, and the reason for doing so was also very clear. If we weren’t successful, our lives would be affected negatively forever. There was really no option but to crush that debt. Without that clear vision, and a “why” to be dilligent with our finances we recently lost our way a bit. My run over the weekend has reminded me that I need to find a reason that resonates in our core. We can roll along for now just fine, but when something unexpected comes up, we will need something to draw upon. We need to know our “why.”

What financial goal are you working towards right now? Do you know your, “why?” If so, has it helped motivate you to keep going?

About Travis

22 Responses to “Want To Achieve A Big Goal? Better Know Your “Why!””

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  1. My why behind getting out of debt is because I never want to be in the position when I have to wonder how I’m going to take care of my daughter ever again.

  2. I love this, Travis! I am a huge proponent of finding the “why” behind goals just for the reasons you mentioned. There will be roadblocks and if you don’t have a strong “why”, it is so easy to get off course and/or give-up. I love that wanting “to know what amazing feels like” is your motivation to run. So powerful and inspiring.

    • Travis says:

      It’s important to find that right, “Why,” too Shannon. Once I found it, and it really resonated with me, I started to attack my workouts with a greater vigor and determination. Thanks for reading!

  3. I’m glad you found your why for running. I’m still looking for my “why” for eating very healthy. Apparently just wanting tighter abs is not enough, and hasn’t stopped me from eating too much guacamole. 🙂

  4. Wow, what a powerful statement. “I want to know what amazing feels like.” It instantly makes sense.

    We couldn’t agree more on the importance of knowing your “why.” Knowing our “why” has let us frame our goals and make the decision to work toward early retirement. Knowing it has helped us buy a lot less stuff and focus on buying time and freedom with that money instead.

    • Travis says:

      The great thing about finding your why, is that it’s self-reinforcing. You are (or will be) living the result of buying time and freedom with your money – which will allow you to KNOW that you made the right choice!

  5. Finding and having a “Why” gives you the motivation to complete goals no matter what the odds. Glad you found yours for running. We are building wealth. I have four great “whys” that I’m reminded of each and everyday.

    • Travis says:

      Reminding yourself of your “why” and even saying it OUT LOUD adds weight to your reasoning….and makes it easier to keep going. I think about why I run while I’m running…..it keeps me focused and energized! Thanks for commenting, Brian!

  6. Kim says:

    I love amazing as well. My why is so I don’t have to spend the next 25 years in an office. I feel that way whenever we take a vacation. I’d love to be on vacation permanently!

  7. My “why” is freedom. That sounds kind of nebulous, but it is very appealing to me. Just the freedom to sleep in if I want to. Or to grocery shop at 10:00 am – when everyone else is at work. To spend long periods of time reading or hanging out with a friend – just because I feel like it and no scheduled event is telling me that I can’t. To travel. To take piano lessons again. I could go on and on. All the best with your marathon training! I hope that you have many occasions to know what amazing feels like : )

    • Travis says:

      That’s great that you can articulate your “Why” so succinctly, Prudence – sounds like you’ve got it dialed in – and I KNOW you can make it happen!

  8. Jane Gordon says:

    I’ve been looking for other ways to focus on achieving goals or even just helping with focusing better on goals and this is very helpful! Thank you so much! 🙂

  9. We’ve definitely buckled down a bit more now that we have the exact total for Tim’s dental implants. It keeps me motivated to question more expenses or say no to a couple more things.

    After that’s done next year, my goal will be a fully-funded SEP. That’ll take some grit and determination to be sure. I think you just have to keep finding the motivating factors to really stay on task.

    • Travis says:

      Sounds like you’re putting together the pieces of your puzzle, Abigail – keep pushing and you’ll accomplish all your goals. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I think you hit the nail on the head with this post. Having a “why” is more important than most people think. Honestly, our student loan debt is what motivated me to work so hard at my blog and to create side hustle income. I think of it as offsetting our loan payments and I’m actually really grateful that I had enough motivation to stick with blogging.

    • Travis says:

      You’re motivation has obviously paid off, DC – Young Adult Money is a great site, and I’m very happy to hear it’s serving the purpose you want it to serve. Congrats, my friend!

  11. The timing of reading this post is uncanny. My wife and I were just asking ourselves the same thing!

    Another way to get to the root of the why is to ask the why question 5 times. So after each “why” you provide an answer and then you ask yourself why to the answer. An example:

    1) Why do I want to be debt free? I don’t want to owe money to anyone.
    2) Why don’t I want to owe money to anyone? I want to reduce my spending and reach financial independence ASAP!
    3) Why do I want to reduce my spending and reach financial independence ASAP? Because I don’t want to rely on a job for income.
    4) Why don’t I want to rely on a job for income? I want to retire from work and live on my passive income.
    5) Why do I want to retire from work and live on my passive income? So I can pursue my interests outside of the need to work for money and set my own schedule living location independent!

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