What is your WHY? Maybe you enjoy what you do and your work, but what is your greater purpose? What is the reason for the things that you do?

Take a step back and reflect on the reason you’re doing what you do. Maybe that looks like a vacation, or a sabbatical, or simply setting aside a weekend that isn’t filled with activities.

I believe it’s super important to reflect on the reason that you’re doing what you do, not just for your career, but for your life as a whole.

The goal is to get people on board with your WHY.

You want people to buy into your WHY and get what you’re about. Not only is that going to have a positive impact on sales, but more importantly, it helps build community around what you’re doing. It helps people understand the greater purpose of your WHY.

For me, my WHY would be helping people make a living with their passion. I don’t want people to hate their job and show up to spend a third of their life doing something they begrudge. I want them to be passionate about it but I also want them to make a living from doing what they’re passionate about. Cory is passionate about story telling through film. He wants to create stories that people feel they can relate to.

People Can’t Grasp A Mist

But all of these WHYS are intangible. The way I think of it is: they’re essentially a mist. A WHY, or a reason, or a purpose is like a fog. It’s not something you can hold or grasp, so it’s difficult to get people on board with that directly. That’s why I have this What → Why → Whats concept.

In order to get people on board with your WHY, you want to bring them on with an initial WHAT.

You want to curate what you share.

People like to project everything they do. They’re really skilled at a bunch of things and they enjoy doing them, so they project all of that. The problem is, people can’t process your awesomeness. You may be great at a bunch of things but people can’t process that—it’s too complex.

They’re Going to Put You in a Box

Everyone has a bunch of different layers to their personality. The problem is, people can’t process all of that. They can’t process the many complex facets of every individual. Out of necessity, they’re going to put you in a box. (Related: They’re Going to Put You in a Box – Curate What You Share). They’re going to put you in a box out of necessity. You can’t control it or prevent it, but you can define the kind of box they put you in.

You can define the kind of box people put you in by curating your WHAT.

Mist is not tangible and people can’t understand that. They can’t understand a WHY. They have to come on board with a WHAT. A WHAT is something that’s tangible—something you initially project. For me, that was lettering.

People were able to understand lettering. I was a “lettering guy.” I could do a bunch of different things in the design industry—user interface, icons, and branding—but I decided I was only going to curate my lettering. Lettering was all I put out. I’m a letterer but I was afraid that if I only put out lettering, people wouldn’t be able to process everything that I did. If I wasn’t sharing all of that, people wouldn’t know I could do all of these other things.

“What if I want to eventually write about business? What if I want to make music? What if I want to podcast, or do videos? I’m only putting out the lettering.”

Your WHAT Is Tangible

The initial, tangible thing you put out is serving a purpose. It’s actually working as a handle for people and giving them something to grasp. It’s a simplified, single thing that they can hold onto and it brings them on board with your WHY. You can’t bring them on board initially. You have to bring them on board through the WHAT. The WHY is just the beginning.

Once you get people on board with the WHY, they’re going to follow you to the next thing.

I was afraid people were only going to know me for lettering and they weren’t going to follow me to the next thing. But they do!

Once they understand what you’re about through that initial thing, they will follow you when you do something else. You don’t have to put off the other things you enjoy doing forever! People are going to follow you to that. People will know all those other whats are an embodiment of this WHY.

If you want your WHY to matter, you have to start projecting a single WHAT. That’s the only way you’re going to become known and the only reason you’re going to get your WHY to resonate with people.

How much do you care about your WHY? Is it important to you enough to sacrifice all the things you want to do for now, and start by curating what you share?