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The Importance of Defining Your WHY




Many people set business or personal goals but if you ask them why they want the things they want, they struggle to answer the question. The reality is that knowing what you want often isn’t enough to achieve it — you need to know why you want it.

Certified High-Performance Coach behind the Siena Strategy Partners and an entrepreneur with 14 years of experience under her belt, Kate McKay, believes that determining why you’re pursuing a specific objective very early is crucial to reaching it. “Goals and purpose are very different. A goal determines the ‘what’ and purpose determines the ‘why’ of your objective. This means you got to go in and really get to know yourself. A checklist isn’t just gonna get you there,” she advised.

McKay is an ACE Certified Fitness and Health Coach, which she says has helped her harness her inner energy and clarify her purpose. And it’s little wonder. Research released by the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies asserts that people engaged in sports are more confident, have better leadership skills, and work better in teams.

“Even though people may hire me as a coach, they want to tap into what I know about fitness and energy. Often, the reason why people hire me is my energy, the way I look, and the fact that I’m an athlete,” McKay says.

Living Your Purpose 

Let’s face it: ticking boxes on a list of tasks isn’t very inspiring. While it’s often a necessity, in order to succeed, we need to aim higher — we need to have a higher purpose or a WHY. In the long run, knowing why you are running around to complete your daily tasks will both increase your productivity and motivate you to keep going. “We are talking about the things that give your life meaning, the things that make us feel that life really matters,” McKay explains. 

Having a WHY isn’t only about maximizing your daily effectiveness and efficiency, it’s also about serving both yourself and others. “Purpose is about feeling that your life has a sense of meaning every time you put your head on the pillow at night. Did you add value to somebody’s day? Did you take care of yourself? And did you love it?” McKay elaborates.

Why the Time is Now

When it comes to defining your purpose, there’s no better time than now. This is because understanding your WHY can help guide your focus and energy. It can also help trigger new behaviors and habits to help you thrive. “Without passion and vision, a business will die on the vine. You must know your WHY, what you are willing to fight and love for,” McKay says.

When it comes to business, there’s nothing wrong with having a sense of urgency — in fact, it’s necessary. McKay calls this sense of urgency a positive obsession. “That obsession is actually good. To be obsessed and to be passionate and to live with conviction is important,” she clarifies. “When we hear the word obsession, it sometimes sounds negative. But if we’re positively convicted, we have that level of conviction, it’s like, let me join the ride because I don’t want to be left behind.” 

Tapping Into High-Performance Energy

The ability to harness energy is a high-performance habit that will help you clarify your WHY. According to McKay, a CEO of a company needs to be conditioned like an athlete to perform at a level where they can succeed. “They have to be able to have a very high capacity to master their energy. And sometimes this involves physical activity,” she says.

McKay says that neuroscience studies have shown that high-performers should be doing strength training to master their physical and mental energy levels. She points to a 2015 study by ESPN and EY that found a link between business success and athletics. According to the study, 80% of female Fortune 500 executives were involved in competitive sports at some stage in their lives.

“It actually does something to your brain. And we’re not talking lightweight, I’m talking weight-bearing exercise, in order to elevate your energy levels and your life,” she says.

Claiming Your Inner Warrior

According to McKay, everybody has an inner warrior  — a part of themselves with the ability and courage to face problems head-on. And everybody wants to access him or her. What often stops them is the fear of getting in touch with their inner purpose or WHY. “There are three main things that we fear. We fear that things will be too hard. We fear the outcome. What if putting all this effort into things isn’t going to be worth it? and we fear judgment if our inner WHY doesn’t align with the expectations of others,” McKay says. “At the same time, nothing is worse than regret. Regret is not an option. And staying the same is not an option. It’s unacceptable.”

So how do we overcome our fears just as top athletes embark on the path of high performance and success? All in all, it’s crucial to define your WHY and a high-performance coach holds you accountable when you slack and applaud you when you reach your achievements while keeping you in line with your WHY. 

“Figuring out what motivates you from the inside is the ticket to living into your brilliance on the outside.” Kate McKay. 

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