Use your “What” to find your “Why”

Recently, Philip Kaplan (aka “Pud”, founder of Adbrite and was emailed a question by a single mother looking to get her life back on track. Philip answered the question on his blog, and I found his answer particularly fascinating and relevant. The full text of Philip’s answer is replicated below:

Some people know what their passion is. Unfortunately, you do not. But I’m going to help you find it.

Here’s what you do:

Ask yourself, if you could do ANYTHING in the world, what would it be? What’s the ultimate fantasy that you’ll probably never actually achieve, but would be awesome? Rock star? Movie starlet? Teacher? Birthday party clown? Brad Pitt’s wife? That’s the “WHAT.”

Now ask yourself, “WHY?”

For example, my “WHAT” was “be a rock star heavy metal drummer!” Upon further analysis, my “WHY” was “I want to do something creative. I want freedom. I want to affect lots of people.”

As it turns out, there were about a million different more tangible things I could do, that would satisfy my “WHY.” That’s why I became a freelance web programmer: creativity, freedom, and the opportunity to reach the masses.

What’s your “WHAT?” What’s your “WHY?” You’ll be surprised how easy it is to satisfy your WHY, once you’ve figured out what it is.

I found that, as a college student rapidly approaching graduation, Philip’s advice to identify your “why” instead of focusing on your “what” was especially pertinent as I considered my long term career and happiness goals. I also think that his advice is helpful to entrepreneurs casting about for some direction in life. Many are so focused on becoming the next Web 2.0 darling, that I think they may have lost sight of why they embarked on an entrepreneurial career path in the first place.

Do what you love. Follow your why. The rest will fall into place.

Did this post help you? If it did, I'd love it if you'd sign up for my newsletter. I send out non-public stories, coaching tips, tricks, and funny stories every week. Enter your email address below.

Leave a Comment

Bill D'Alessandro