Why Would I Do Such A Thing?

The other day Linda, someone who’s been practicing at my studio for as long as I’ve been in business, announced she’s going to do the April Yoga Challenge this year. For the first time. 

(This will be the 12th year I’ve offered it.)

“Why now?” I asked her.

She didn’t give me an answer. 

I asked her again a few days later, and she said something about being “tied here anyway” because of a class she’s teaching this semester.

I’m not sure this is is a a good enough why. I’m not sure it’s going to get her through a month of everyday yoga.

A while ago a good friend turned me on to Simon Sinek and his Start With Why TED talk and his book of the same name. I’ve been a real fan ever since.

Whenever I contemplate a new project, I always ask myself Why? And until I unearth an answer that will keep me going when I lose energy, or motivation, or heart for the thing, I don’t do it. I have to know my why first.

If I don’t have a strong enough why articulated at the get-go, I know I’m doomed. 

It’s okay if my why changes during the project, as long as I continue to have one. And it’s a good one.

I’m in the process of writing my April newsletter to my mailing list now. I’m describing the Challenge and laying out the  rules.  

The game of the Challenge is that if you agree to come to class every day for 30 days, you only pay $30 for the entire month. There’s a leader board on the back wall where you sign in every day, and others can see your attendance and scribble notes of encouragement to you if they want. 

It’s really fun, but it’s also hard. But not because of the yoga. It’s hard because of the everyday. That’s why you need a strong why going in.

So I started writing this sort of rah-rah newsletter to my people, encouraging anybody thinking of doing the Challenge this year to know their why first. 

Just for fun, I tried to think of a few good whys for myself. Why would I commit to such a thing? 

I came up with 4. There could be many more, but these four would work for me.

1. For My Health

2. To Align More Closely with my Aspirational Self

3. To Set a Good Example

4. For Accountability 

Health

I want to shed some winter weight. I want to get stronger, more toned and energized. A 30 Day Yoga Challenge would be a good way to support my healthier eating resolution, or even a detox. 

Aligning with My Aspirational Self

When I invision my best self I see a person who does yoga everyday and looks like they do yoga every day. I see someone healthy, glowing, and energetic. Someone getting life done. Someone who’s not enslaved. Someone calling the shots on their own life, or at least recognizing where choices can be made, and making good ones. 

A 30 Day Yoga Challenge would give me an opportunity to live, at least for a month, in alignment with what I’m always saying I want to do, but so often don’t.

Good Example

Here is my favorite chicken-crossing-the-road joke:

  • Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
  • A: To prove to the possum that it could be done.

I want to be the chicken. I want to prove that something hard can be done. I want to do something hard and not get hit by a truck doing it. I am aware that people are inspired by other people and that we’re all watching each other. If I can be a good example, maybe you’ll be inspired. That’s how the world works, We’re all watching each other. If I can work the logistics of fitting a yoga class into my life for 30 days in a row, maybe you can, too. I am highly incentivized by being a good example. For nobody in particular. For everyone in general.

Also: Very few people in the world actually do what they say they’re going to do. So it’s inspiring to see someone actually persist and win at something hard.

Accountability

I’m an Obliger. Most people are. Obligers depend on an accountability partner to keep them connected to their goals. A 30 Day Challenge acts as that accountability partner, because if I don’t show up, I’m out. And everybody knows it. 

Also: Very few people do this, so it makes me feel part of a little tribe that I have to show up for and root on. And I like that. 

If you’ve ever committed to doing something hard, a marathon, losing weight— anything that demanded training and a long(ish) slog, you know what I’m talking about. You have to have your why tattooed on your brain or you’ll bonk.

I’ll be really curious to see how many people sign up for this and what their whys are. I’ll be writing a lot about the Challenge next month for sure. Stay tuned.

Also: if you’ve ever done anything like this, let me know how it went, and if your why played a big part in your success.

Who Cares?

“Who cares?”

“So what?”

These are the questions that have derailed me every time I got to the point where I was ready to put my work out there. I’d read my stuff and get the sinking feeling that it was all bullshit. “Who the hell cares? So what?” I’d ask myself.

And then I’d quit.

Knowing this was my MO, I had to create some kind of strategy to de-fang these questions so they wouldn’t poison my progress this time.

I thought of the Simon Sinek TED talk my friend Anthony David Adams turned me on to a while ago, and I watched it again, and then ordered the book.

Start With Why is my “warm-up read” these mornings.

To read is to prime the pump, to tune my ear to word-music, to align my mind with how ideas look in print-space. After an hour of reading, I am ready for the pen or the keyboard.

Sinek says to start with “Why?” Why are you writing? Why do you do anything? He says people don’t care what you do, or how you do it. People care WHY you do it.

If you can articulate your WHY, you will attract the people who believe what you believe, and these are your people. They’re your readers if you’re a writer; they’re your customers if you’re in business. These are your allies, your tribe, the people you influence, help, support, and care about.

I got to my Space Chair by 9 and worked on this question doggedly with the pen.

What is my Why?

Answer: To help. This, first and foremost.

I have felt the nauseating indecision of not knowing where to direct my energy.

I have waited for someone to call my name, to anoint me, to identify my vocation for me, which was a complete and utter mistake.

I believed I wasted precious time doing crappy jobs. (There is no such thing as wasted time, and even crappy jobs show us the way.)

Then I found a better way, a different strategy. And it worked for me, and I think it might work for other people, too. It’s not complicated. It’s not earth-shatteringly original, but it’s fun, and interesting, and it will result in increased self-knowledge, if nothing else.

During today’s scribble I discovered that it is easier to describe my WHY when it comes to teaching yoga than it is for writing. But I also learned that the writing and the yoga teaching are intimately linked.

It turns out I do everything for the same WHY. My vehicles may change, but my WHY is always the same: to help.