Have You Forgotten Why You Do What You Do?

Every challenge has a purpose. Do you still remember yours?

Why do you do what you do?

When did you last stop and think about that? If you’re like most of my readers, you make some difficult decisions every day that most people aren’t willing to make. You take the road less traveled. You sacrifice. You do what others won’t so that you can do what others can’t.

Taking the challenge starts to become a reflex. Given the choice between easy and hard, we choose hard. It’s often the right choice, but not always. Sometimes it just comes down to why we’re doing it.

In the midst of all these difficult decisions you’re making (good for you!), don’t lose your connection with your why. You may end up making things harder for yourself for no reason.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / WavebreakMediaMicro

One possible outcome when you forget your why is that you lose your resolve because you no longer have an emotional connection to what you’re doing. Like a fire starved of oxygen, your fire will gradually fade out until you stop.

Even if you keep going, you can start doing things that just don’t make sense because the original purpose has been forgotten. “It’s how we’ve always done things!” Consider Hyrum W. Smith’s parable of the young wife who cut the ends off of the ham:

As they were cleaning up dinner, a young man asked his new wife, “I noticed you cut the ends off of the ham; why is that?”

“Why, to make it taste better, of course! Everyone knows that.”

The young man was confused. He had never heard of doing this before, and didn’t see how it could affect the taste. “Where did you learn to do that?”

“From my mother.”

His in-laws lived in town. The next time he saw them, he asked his mother-in-law, “I understand that you cut the ends off of your hams. Why is that?”

“To make it taste better, of course. It’s a little trick I picked up from my mother."

The husband decides to give his wife’s grandmother a call. “I understand you cut the ends off of your hams. Why is that?”

“It’s the only way they’ll fit in the oven.”

There is nothing wrong with a challenge. Anything worth having is worth working for. The way this is supposed to work, the challenge is commensurate with the reward. The only justification for putting in more is because you will (or might) get out more.

Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

S. Morgenstern

Challenge for the sake of challenge is not a good thing. If you’re choosing between low-effort, low-reward and high-effort, high-reward outcomes, by all means—choose the challenge.

But for a given outcome, why not minimize the challenge? It’s not taking the easy way out—it’s called managing risk. Reducing costs. Good stewardship. You know what you want, now go get it as quickly and efficiently as you can!

Thinking of taking the challenging road? Step back and ask yourself why before you take the road less traveled. You may enjoy the journey, or you may just be making things harder for yourself. Understand why you’re cutting the ends off of the ham.

Question: Why do you make the tough decisions that you do? Share your thoughts in the comments, or on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

About

Colter writes software and blogs about personal growth and productivity. He lives in Silicon Valley (California) with his wife and children, recently took up golf, and watches mostly British TV shows.

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