Watching a rat solve a puzzle to obtain its reward is fascinating to me. I have seen a rat navigate through a maze, climb obstacles, used the surrounding objects to form a bridge to cross a gap, undo latches to gets its reward.
The interesting thing is when the rat is placed at the start of the puzzle without the reward, not much happens, she explores the puzzle with curiosity and it pace is slow and relaxed. However, when the reward (like cheese with peanut butter) is present, you can almost see the switch turning on in the brain, the eyes lit up, the movements quicken and a source of energy and life zaps through her and her pursuit is relentless until she obtains the reward.
Her actions are motivated by her ‘Why’. With the reward, she now has a reason (her ‘why’) to move faster, think faster, persist longer, try more methods, fail faster and recover faster. Her life at that moment in time is no longer just ‘chilling’ or ‘exploring’. She is in clear pursuit of a worthy goal.
In our lives, how often do we know why we are doing something? Are our daily actions contributing to achieving our reward, our goal? Or are we merely doing things the way we know it and merely existing? Do you feel the time passes really quickly and before you know it, your day has ended (usually with you feeling exhausted) or your week has ended? We are now at the end of the first quarter of the year. Do you actually know why you have been doing what you have been doing?
In life, we need to convey WHY we do it more importantly than WHAT we do. People may be attracted to us because of our WHAT, how we look, how we talk, the friends we associate with but stay with us because of WHO we are, our WHY. Knowing WHY is essential for lasting success and the ability to avoid being lumped in with others. Anybody faced with the challenge of how to differentiate themselves from other is basically a commodity, regardless of WHAT they do or HOW they do it. Nobody wants to be another commodity.
Knowing our Why not only allows others to understand us, it also allows us to understand ourselves. If we do not have a clear Why, not only will it confuse others but we may also get confused to our purpose.
It can be very difficult to figure out your Why for many reasons. Firstly, one may not even be aware of this concept and the importance of it and hence, not put any energy or thought into it. Next, life can very easily take over, especially if you have children. Our Why can be consumed in parenthood (especially mothers who are usually the primary carers) in just surviving each day or just making sure we are doing the best for our children (that is also a ‘why’!). Remember that our children do grow up and it is important to spend time on ourselves too. There are many reasons why life may not allow us the capacity to think of our ‘Why’, for example, extreme circumstances, chronic debilitating illness, etc. However, I would argue that it is in those situations that we have to hold on to our ‘Why’ even more tightly. Lastly, we may not have experienced enough of life to find out what is important to us. It is not uncommon for people to figure out what their ‘Why’ is only in their forties or fifties. It is then they create their most amazing work.
I have found my ‘Why’. I wish you success in finding your ‘Why’ and living your life in accordance of it.
‘In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until we ultimately become enslaved by it.’