What’s your ‘why’?
When I ask my students why they want to start their own businesses, the most common responses are, “I want to change the world!” and “I want to help as many people as possible!” But while I’m sure the desire to be of service factors in for many of my students, it’s rarely what’s really driving their decision to give notice. And that’s just fine. Human beings are… wait for it… naturally selfish. It’s what keeps the species alive, so you don’t have to be ashamed of it. Your why does not need to be big or altruistic. The only thing it needs to be is 100% honest.
I can say this with authority because my why felt incredibly petty to me when I first went out on my own. It was solely focused on what I wanted. Or, more truthfully, it was solely focused on what I didn’t want. My why went something like this: I do not want another person to tell me what to do, when to do it or how to do it—ever again. That’s it. That was my why.
To ensure that I went all in—and that there was no chance of turning back—my why had to be deeply personal and focused on a self-serving motivation. That way, no person or outside influence could sway me or take it from me. The burning desire was mine, and it wasn’t going anywhere.
I want you, too, to dig deep and get honest with yourself about why you’re considering taking a leap that scares the pants right off you. If you did not care what others might think of you, what would be your true why? If you did not fear being judged or misunderstood, what would you admit you deeply wanted? If you were being brutally honest, what are you sick and tired of dealing with? What do you want to change? What do you want to move toward? What do you want to move away from?
My friend, what do you really want for you, your life and your business? You must declare your why, because your honesty here will act as your anchor when things get tough. It will keep you grounded and focused along the way so that you can create a life and business by your own design.
Dealing with cold feet
The more real you get with yourself about your why, the more the worries and fears will start to pop up. But the only way I got to where I am today is by allowing my why to become bigger than my worries.
I am still standing today with a multimillion-dollar business that allows me incredible freedom, and not because I had the best strategy in the world. It’s not because I’m the best teacher in the world, nor because I had the best marketing in the world when I started. I am standing here today because my desire to work when I wanted to work, how I wanted to work and where I wanted to work was just a little bit more important to me than my fear of failure and humiliation. If you choose a why that’s bigger than your worries, you will be in this for the long game.
A known situation—no matter how frustrating, overwhelming, soul-sucking or depleting—feels safer than an unknown future. This is why it’s so easy to say, “I’m going to start my own business… someday.” “I’m going to do what I really want to do… someday.” “I’m going to make money on my own terms… someday.” We don’t fully believe in our ability to be our own boss. We are scared that if we crash and burn, we won’t be able to get back up. Feeling safe feels comfortable. I get it. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, right?
But the devil you know is still… the devil. Security tricks us into believing that we have enough and that we don’t desire more—even when it’s very obvious that we do desire more. A security mindset dims our light. It neglects the fact that we have big dreams and hopes that can only be realized on the other side of our comfort zone.
Deep down, I believe we all want freedom more than we want security. Freedom to call the shots. Freedom to make as much money as we want to make. Freedom to do what we want to do, when we want to do it, in the way we want to do it. Freedom comes with risks—it’s a fact. The path to your freedom will at times feel like you want to come out of your skin, or at least crawl under the covers and hide. But I promise it’s so very worth it.
If you are willing to push past your immediate desire for security, comfort and certainty, you will experience the ultimate freedom of creating your own kind of security, on your terms, in your own business.
Excerpted from Two Weeks Notice: Find the Courage to Quit Your Job, Make More Money, Work Where You Want, and Change the World (Hay House, 2023).
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2023 issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photos by Kat Harris Photography.