Why do you want to change your life?

Father holding toddler daughter with her head on his shoulder

"Why do you want to change your life?" That's a deeper question than it seems at first blush. Of course you have reasons in mind for changes you want to make - but if those reasons aren't urgent and critical to you, you're not ready for change. Chances are that you'll find success to be elusive, and a year from now you'll be looking at the same goals and wondering why you have made no progress in achieving them.

How many times have you wanted to make a change in your life, only to find life "getting in the way" and your goals falling by the wayside? The key to creating dramatic success in your life is knowing WHY it's critical that you keep to your goals - and your Why needs to be critical and urgent.

Getting to know your Why

Suppose you have a goal of getting in better physical condition. If I asked you why, you might tell me:

  • "I want my pants to fit better"
  • "I want to be able to eat what I want and not feel guilty"
  • "I want to look good in my swimsuit this summer"

These are great starting points - but they lack urgency and it's hard to see that change is critical.


Your Why needs to be critical - so important that there is no alternative to staying on track with your goals. What's so critical about your pants fitting better? They don't fit you well now, do they? and your life goes on, with snug pants.

Go a little deeper and ask yourself what your life will be like if you continue down the path you're on today. Tight pants are uncomfortable and inconvenient, but you have endured worse - but what about the people in your life whom you love? Who else might be affected by your health not improving? Perhaps you have children: what if - God forbid - you weren't healthy enough to dance with them at their wedding? What if you weren't even around any more?

As you consider your goal, don't take it easy on yourself as you consider the potential consequences of not achieving your goal. Be brutally honest. Remember, the part of you that makes excuses for failing to achieve will want you to feel comfortable in not achieving. When you're getting clarity on your Why, get uncomfortable with the consequences of failure. Push yourself until your Why is critical - like "I'm going to get in better physical condition so I can dance with my daughter at her wedding!"


So you're going to dance with your daughter at her wedding. How old is she now, nine? Plenty of time. Next month you and your friends are going to Mexico; perhaps you can wait for now, enjoy some margaritas by the pool and tacos in abundance and get started when you get back.

If your Why isn't so urgent that you're absolutely sure in your soul that you have to start today (since it's too late to start yesterday), your Why isn't ready yet.

Maybe there's something super handy like summer starting in eight weeks or a high school reunion in three months - a hook that you can use to create a sense of urgency around your goal.

If not - and if your Why still isn't urgent to you - the key might be in your sense of self. Who is it, after all, that has this critical and not-yet-urgent goal, and what do you know about this person?

It's not the person you're used to being.

Look forward in your life and see yourself as the person who has accomplished this goal. Consider the confidence that they have after doing the hard work that your goal required. How do they walk? What are their relationships like? How are they with accountability - do they keep their word?

See yourself as that person. You might close your eyes and feel it in your body: where in your body do you feel confidence? Honor? Integrity?

Sitting in this new place, consider the possibility of not sticking with your goal - of failing yourself, choosing something else that came up in life's moments and making those distractions more important than your goal. These little choices are a threat to your very identity.

If your Why isn't urgent, maybe it's because you don't believe that you are the person who can stick to your goal. Only you can decide if you're actually that person - and the fact is that you have to make a choice here: There is no neutral ground - you're either choosing to be the version of yourself that keeps on track or you're choosing to be the person who lets it slide, accepting not-enough.

I am reminded of my favorite quote from Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged":

“In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who,are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your,vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those,who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man’s,proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that,travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable,spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet,,the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for,the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road,and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.”

From this place - this sense of self - ask again if your Why is urgent.