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Why Your Why is So Important

Living your truth is essential to reaching your financial dreams

Think back to when you were a child and adults asked what you wanted to be when you grew up. Perhaps you said a scientist, a chef, a professional athlete or a veterinarian. And do you remember their reactions? I highly doubt your parents or teachers ever scoffed and said your dream was silly or unachievable—you likely received encouraging nods and affirmations that you can be whatever you want someday if you study hard and apply yourself. It’s no wonder you thought you’d follow your passion when you became an adult.

But somewhere along the way, many people forgot that. They got some message that their dreams weren’t attainable. Whether they experienced a setback, made a mistake, grew disenchanted or got bad advice, they shifted gears to something easier or something more traditional. And with that, their dreams went out the window. They took a desk job they hated, promising themselves it would only be temporary.

Then, life got in the way. As women, we get caught up in playing so many roles for so many people in our lives: wife, mother, daughter, employee, caregiver, and the list goes on. It’s easy to lose track of who we really are and what it is we want out of life. We follow some prescribed formula and wonder why we aren’t fulfilled. Why isn’t my corporate job satisfying? Why haven’t I grown closer to my financial goals? Why am I still in this Rat Race?

The short answer is because you’re not living your truth. You didn’t follow your passion. And now you’re left wondering what is your purpose in life? Maybe you’re even contemplating what you do you want to be when you grow up? These realizations may be startling and even a bit painful, but admitting you somehow veered off course is the first step in finding the motivation to change your life.

Living your truth

And here’s another motivating tidbit: You’re not alone. Studies show 40% of people wish they had chased their childhood ambitions. Thankfully, there’s no rule that says once you make your choices you have to stick to them. You can redirect your life at any moment. The first step, as I mentioned above, is being honest with yourself about who you are at your core. The second step is honoring the “true you.” You must stay true to your values, dreams, talents, instincts, passion and everything that makes you, you. Ultimately, this boils down to living your truth, rather than avoiding, dismissing or writing it off. Plus, it’s a lot more effort to live inauthentically than to embrace who you are!

Next, you must define your “why.” If you’re ready to make a change, it has to be for all the right reasons, all the things that matter to you. Reaching your dream, especially if you have taken a detour over the last decade or two, won’t be easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult at times. That’s why your “why” has to be crystal clear in your mind and you must feel it deep down in your heart and soul. Because these are the feelings you’ll cling to when the going gets tough.

Your “why” can’t just be about money because there are plenty of joyless ways to make money. It needs to be a stronger motivator, something that inspires you to keep pushing until you are living your truth and have reached your goal.

For example, your “why” might be that you want to make a positive contribution in your local community or in the world, become financially independent so you can leave your husband or stop living with your parents, or so you can do something great your children will be proud of and inspire them to follow their own dreams.

So stop here for a moment and think about your own why. You might feel a tingle of excitement once you zero in on it. You may feel a bit scared. Or you could even feel completely relieved. You don’t need to share your why with anyone or you can shout it from the rooftops. Your why, your rules!

My why lead me to my dream

I graduated from college with a degree in business and marketing, and immediately went out and got a job in the “real world” just like you’re supposed to do. I quickly discovered that being an employee wasn’t my dream. But it wasn’t until my first date with Robert — when he asked me, “What do you want to do with your life?” — that it became clear to me. I replied, “I want to start my own business.” And just like that, I solidified my purpose in life and decided what I wanted to be when I grew up.

So Robert and I left our jobs, and headed to California with $900 in our pocket and a dream to build our business. Within two weeks, that money was gone, and we were sleeping in a borrowed, beat-up brown Toyota. Yeah, we were homeless. Our friends and family couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t just “get jobs” like everyone else.

Still, the path was difficult. I had to learn through experience and a lot of trial and error. Being homeless was extremely stressful. But I did not give up, and things obviously worked out just fine (actually, great!) in the long run.

My dream became a reality because I had the courage to focus on my financial education, keep moving forward and not let the naysayers change my mindset for success. I remained steadfast in my purpose because I was zeroed in on my why.

Why is a woman’s why even more important?

I don’t know about you, but the ongoing scarcity of women in leadership positions continues to blow my mind. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that it’s 2019, because not nearly enough has changed when it comes to gender equality in the last century. It’s well documented that women are just as capable, if not more so, than our male counterparts, yet we still face tremendous obstacles when it comes to obtaining senior leadership positions.

According to an article in Inc., six of the top issues that contribute to this phenomenon include:

  1. Outdated gender biases that are deeply ingrained in workplace culture.

  2. A gap in perception—in a survey, 86 percent of men said women have as many or more opportunities than men do, but only 56 percent of women agreed.

  3. Women in leadership tend to be relegated to traditionally female roles, such as human resources or public relations, versus IT and finance.

  4. Continuous lip service, in which companies say they’re addressing issues of equality, but they don’t hold their leadership team accountable for taking action.

  5. Disparity in pay for men and women in the same roles.

  6. Work-life balance concerns, which result in women being put on the “mommy track,” which prevents them from advancing.

Doesn’t this make you mad? Doesn’t this make you want to walk away (or run!) from your corporate job and start your own business, so you can blaze your own trail? Why should women continue to work for corporations that don’t value our contributions, don’t pay us fairly for the same work men do, and don’t promote us into the leadership positions we deserve? This alone could easily be your “why!” If you’re fed up with gender inequality in the workplace, let that be your driving force.

Your why will lead you to financial freedom

Whether you are a mom trying to balance an impossibly tight budget, a stressed-out executive daydreaming about a better life, or just someone who has “settled” for what you have, ask yourself these questions: Have you put your dreams on hold? Do you yearn for something more? Something different? Something better?

Well, stop making excuses. It’s time to push yourself to the next level! It’s time to start living your truth!

Being true to yourself is a must in reaching financial freedom. Your drive and passion will get you through the rough patches, the doubts and the setbacks. This is your dream, so make it true to you.

Life is a never-ending workshop, and when you stop learning, you stop living. Yes, you will make mistakes, but that’s how you learn. In fact, it’s OK to fail. The important thing is to take action.

Pushing aside fear to follow your passion

My best advice for living your truth and following your passion is to put yourself in a position where you have to do something beyond what you think you can do. Make yourself just a little uncomfortable. There are upsides and downsides of fear, but for the most part, it can be a very useful tool.

Sure, it’s scary. And you will have to fight the negativity out there—not only from your own self-doubt, but from all the people who will tell you your dreams are impossible (especially friends and family, who are either jealous or trying to protect you from making mistakes and getting hurt).

But this is how you break out of a rut, build confidence and get the skills and financial education you need to make positive changes happen. This ties in perfectly to my Be-Do-Have philosophy of chasing and achieving your dreams.

Who knows? You just may surprise yourself at what you can accomplish if you put your mind to it!

Original publish date: June 14, 2017