Every new year is a great opportunity to start over. You don’t have to complete a total reinvention, but there is an unspoken rule that you can become someone new every January 1st.
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One of the best ways to reinvent yourself is to drastically alter the quality of your work because what you do for a living greatly determines your future success and your short-term satisfaction.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an employee, manager of a large division or a stay-at-home mom, you can always do better work.
What Does it Take?
Doing your best work simply requires one thing and one thing only: a very strong WHY. Simon Sinek talks about this concept in his popular TED Talk.
A strong WHY is a powerful motivating factor or a reason to get out of bed in the morning that doesn’t require discipline because it’s so important to you that you couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Authentic or Artificial?
Trying to manufacture an artificial motivating factor can be incredibly difficult and it’s unbelievably frustrating. You know that feeling when you’re trying to lose a few pounds because someone else thinks you’re overweight? It’s just not real to you. It’s an artificial goal.
An authentic WHY is an ingrained sense of purpose. For many people, doing great work requires them to think outside themselves, to dig deep and push harder because someone else’s well-being is on the line.
Parents are driven to help their children because they love them unconditionally. CEOs are motivated to grow their company because their job is almost always at risk. Artists are inspired to create better work out of a need to share their talents with the world. Pastors serve their communities out of desire to live out their higher calling.
The Magic Switch
It’s incredibly powerful to watch someone discover their WHY because it’s as though a magic switch has flipped inside them and they transform into a highly ambitious individual.
When you begin to connect with your WHY you naturally gravitate towards working harder and producing better work than you ever have before.
What is even more fascinating is that the extra effort doesn’t feel more difficult – it just feels natural. It’s as though you were meant to be doing the work all along.
How to Find Your WHY
If you don’t already have a strong sense about what your WHY might be, it won’t take long to figure it out.
Try this exercise: get out a piece of paper and start writing. Don’t stop for at least 20 minutes. Write down every idea you have about anything that you have been passionate about in the past, anything you love doing today, and anything you would love to do in the future.
The goal here is to let your thoughts fly free. Don’t hold yourself back. Brainstorm. Think. Make connections.
As you write you will start to see patterns. You will notice topics, career paths, and passions that dominate the conversation in your head. These are strong clues as to what you need to be doing.
There may not be a specific and perfect answer at first, so try the exercise multiple times over a few weeks. The patterns will get stronger and the evidence will mount up. Your confidence will improve and you will then know what needs to happen next.
This process is not magic – it’s just a simple exercise to dig out the truth about you that is already in your head.
I did this exercise a few years ago and I was amazed the results. Finding my WHY resulted in me doing not only better work, but more work too. I am more productive now than ever before and it doesn’t stop.
I can continue at a rapid pace for hours at a time, days in a row, and weeks on end because I feel connected with my work. I am able to produce more work AND better work because I am intrinsically motivated, not disciplined to outwork my old self.
Make the New Year Your Best Yet
Your new year can start whenever you want. You don’t have to wait until January 1st to do this exercise and begin discovering your best work. I encourage you to start now.
Do the exercise today and begin producing better work tomorrow. It really is that simple.
Jeff Sanders hosts The 5 AM Miracle Podcast where he talks about productivity, personal growth, powerful habits, and energetic health. He also blogs about these topics and more at JeffSanders.com.