Do you have daily chores written down, such as taking out the trash and washing the dishes? Or, do you have a list of things you need to get done at the office?
For most of us, the act of setting goals and planning for the future is not unlike creating a to-do list or filling in a day planner. We tend to focus on just two things: what needs to be done and a tentative due date.
Perhaps your goals in life are to get married, buy a new house, have a child, take a trip around the world, or graduate from college. Whatever your goals may be, you’ve probably decided how old you want to be or where you want to be in life when you complete them.
Instead of dealing with days or weeks, however, planning your life goals simply involves a larger time frame of months or years.
Sadly, many of us never get past the stage of merely writing down tasks. We’re so focused on what we’re doing that we never stop to consider why we’re doing it in the first place.
For this reason, many people look back upon decades of accomplishments only to question the direction of their lives—something our culture has dubbed as “the mid-life crisis.”
Once associated with older men with gray hair and red sports cars, this phenomenon is becoming increasingly common among younger generations. In fact, over half of millennials report experiencing a “quarter-life crisis” which is quite an alarming statistic.
Simon Sinek, one of the world’s most influential motivational speakers, explains this problem—and the solution—using something he calls, “The Golden Circle.”
The Golden Circle is a simple, yet profound diagram that provides us with a proper method for analyzing what we’re doing with our lives. And, if you go through the diagram backwards, you’ll see how mixed up our priorities really are.
This section can be summarized as actions and tasks. From the perspective of a corporation, the “what” is the product or service that they provide. For an individual, the “what” is made up of daily tasks and short-term and long-term goals.
The “how” has to do with the delivery of your product or service. What do you do differently that separates yourself from the competition? Do you use a unique manufacturing method, special materials/ingredients, or a secret recipe in the creation of your product?
As an individual, the “how” refers to the tools, strategies, and resources you use to accomplish the “what.” If you’re saving up for a vacation or a big purchase, your savings account and sources of income could be considered the “how.”
The core of everything a company or individual does should be the “why.” When used properly, the golden circle helps us determine our purpose before we set our goals.
According to Sinek, the majority of us start on the outside of the circle and make our way inwards, starting with the “what.” Then, we move to the “how” and the “why” afterward.
This sort of thinking is counterproductive, as it causes us to spend time thinking about what we should be doing and how to accomplish it before we even consider our underlying values, motivations, and goals.
Despite creating the illusion of purpose and drive, being busy in itself doesn’t add meaning to our lives. Rather, we have to define our purpose before we start setting goals.
When we start with the “why,” we’re able to create a compelling vision for the future that not only propels us forward but also the people around us. A true leader doesn’t arbitrarily write down tasks and make sure that their team is “busy.”
This brings us to the importance of crafting a mission statement. When we create a mission statement, we establish the “why” before we do anything else.
Truly inspiring companies and individuals do just that—they sell a vision of the future. The “how” and “what” are only secondary and tertiary to that vision.
By starting with the “why,” we give ourselves and others a reason to believe in what we do. Even the most cynical businesspeople know that “to make money” isn’t a valid mission statement. There needs to be a deeper reason or guiding principle behind what you do.
If your business doesn’t have a mission statement, you need put everything else on hold before moving forward. Once you’ve figured this out, your brand voice, product line, and marketing efforts will flow naturally.
Before you do anything in life, whether it be personal or business-related, stop and take the time to analyze the “why.” It will save you a lot of wasted years spent doing something you’re not passionate about.
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