You’re at a party and you have a drink in your hand. You’re well dressed, the lights are dim, and music is lightly playing in the background. Your friend walks up to you, gives you a hug, and asks how you are doing. You catch up. A couple of minutes later one of their friends walks by and the two of them hug it out. Then you hear, “Hey, meet my friend so-and-so.” It’s not long before you ask or are asked the question: “So what do you do?”

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It’s the classic interaction that probably all of us have gone through.

A) “I’m in finance. I help clients determine when to invest and so forth.”

B) “Ahh that’s cool.”

A) “Ya it’s alright, pays the bills”

B) “True, true.”

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While this interaction tells you a little something about a person, it misses out on one of the most important things associated with the question. Why do people do what they do? or What makes you tick? or What gets you excited?

It’s true, every now and then someone does ask that question or someone will divulge the information before being asked, but all in, it is far more common for the conversation to end with the ‘what’ rather than branching out into the ‘why.’ Why is this? Do we feel it’s not important? Too private to ask? Or is it that we rarely focus on choosing to do something because we have a why, therefore making it a cultural rarity to talk about why we do what we do?

My Turning Point

A huge turning point in my life was when I began choosing to do what I do (for a living) based around a why that was centred in something that wasn’t fickle like money or convenience. So much of the time we hear about people doing jobs or things in their life for reasons that have nothing to do with what makes them tick, feel alive, or get excited. Yes! I know we need to support our families and take what’s available when times are tough, but a huge percentage of the time that is used as an excuse to avoid taking the supposed “risks” to at least try to engage in things we like.

The reality is, the majority of us even reading this message right now have the opportunity to do things we love for a living or even as a side project, but we find every excuse in the world not to. This isn’t going to become an article on how to do all this, you know how, instead this is just going to be about encouraging people to begin asking the question or maybe to start a #ButWhy? movement.

Even though I experienced tough and challenging times over the years as a result of following my passion, it felt amazing to be doing what I love. It feeds areas of your being that most of us forget even exist because it’s so rare to acknowledge them. It’s something I want everyone to be able to experience in their life. It’s so foreign to us, and that’s sad, but the good news is we have the chance to change things whenever we’re ready. You can hear more about my story here.

The next time you’re at a party or meeting someone, ask them why they do what they do or what gets them excited in life. Don’t be afraid to get them to go deeper than just “I like it” or “it’s convenient.” Ask them why they like it or what else about the job or what they do in life gets them excited. 

And for now, ask yourself the question.

Update: Oddly some people were taking this article very seriously and almost taking offence to it. I found it a bit odd because  it’s just a simple question of asking people why they like something, what makes them tick in life, what gets them excited, but somehow we feel that’s too personal? I believe these are the questions that inspire, that get us moving, that remove stagnancy in life. If we can’t ask each other questions like this, what does that say about how open we are to connect with one another on more than just the surface?

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