Wake up daily to our latest coverage of business done better, directly in your inbox.


Get your weekly dose of analysis on rising corporate activism.


The best of solutions journalism in the sustainability space, published monthly.

Select Newsletter

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy. You can opt out anytime.

5 Steps to (Re)discover Your ‘Why’ and Work Toward Happiness

By 3p Contributor

By Mathew Heggem


When it comes to your business, this simple question isn’t so easy to answer. Some days, the answer might be “because I have to” or “because people are depending on me.” Other days, you remember why you embarked on this journey, and it fills you with happiness in pursuit of your greater purpose.

But keeping your “why” (a confluence of your purpose, vision, mission, values, and passion) at the heart of what you do is difficult. The day-to-day challenges of running a business and new developments within the industry can easily distract you, but doing so is vital to inspiring others and growing your company.

Every year, my firm produces a summit on various topics relevant to our clients and business community. Last year’s theme was “Quantifying Your Vision.” Attendees explored metrics they could use to measure success. After discussing employee productivity, profitability, and financial and sales metrics, the greatest metric of success for these entrepreneurs was happiness.

After having a panic attack that landed me in the hospital, I knew I had to rediscover my “why,” pull together the disparate parts of my life, and bring that meaning into my work. I came across the Feldenkrais Institute, watched Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” TED Talk, and learned about aligning others with my higher purpose, a tenet of conscious capitalism. When I rediscovered my vision, happiness followed, and my business has since grown more than 300 percent.

Here are some tips to help you find your “why.”

1. Look within to (re)discover your purpose.

Bringing the “why” back to your company is a process of self-discovery. You can’t communicate your vision to others unless you can articulate it for yourself. What words come to mind when you think about your company’s existence? What purpose do you serve, and why are you motivated to get up every day? Knowing what motivates you — your higher purpose — will give you the clarity to get back in touch with your “why.”

Keep a vision diary. Thinking and writing about your vision will keep you connected to your purpose. Plus, journaling produces a multitude of well-established benefits, from unpacking stress to recharging the creative sectors of your brain.

2. Share your findings.

When employees don’t feel like they’re a part of the company mission, they start to feel less loyal and even regretful. Disengaged employees also cost U.S. companies billions of dollars a year. That’s not an atmosphere you want to create. You want everybody on your team to strive in the same direction. Once you know your “why,” share it openly and passionately.

3. Wear your “why” banner.

Consider and communicate your vision every day. Some days, it will be difficult to find the time between emails and emergency situations, but if you forget your “why” for even one day, it’ll be easier to forget the next day. Live and breathe your vision in every interaction so you’re always connecting what you’re doing with why you’re doing it.

4. Recalibrate your vision regularly.

Once you’ve started the dialogue about the “why” of your company, invite feedback and tough love. Seek out critics, and find the wisdom in others’ reactions.

Remember: It’s your vision, so you don’t have to accept everyone’s feedback. But at least you’re doing your due diligence to support a well-constructed plan. And if you can find a way to remain responsive to your vision and let it evolve, you can blend new ideas into your conversations and guide your team in new directions.

5. Inspire your critical mass.

If you practice what you preach, you’ll have a core group within your business that understands your “why,” inside and out. But even these people have shifting desires and receive new data every day that could be counterintuitive to your mission. You may feel like they’ve got your back forever, but you risk losing them if you let a divide grow between the work and the “why.” Take time to motivate and listen to this critical mass, and keep sharing the “why” that you live by.

Your “why” isn’t static. It can change without you realizing it, and you can change it as you go. Living your vision is a commitment — not a single mission statement but a journey of self-discovery, expression, honesty, and happiness.

Image credit: Pixabay

Modern-day Renaissance man Mathew Heggem, known as the dancing CEO, is the co-founder of SUM Innovation. From #AccTech overhauls to full-time CFOs, this NYC-based accounting consulting firm helps fast-growth businesses and global entrepreneurs transform their businesses through the power of numbers!

Mathew also originated the #SUMTech initiative, an annual summit that explores the intersection between accounting, technology, and entrepreneurship as it relates to trends within the SUM ecosystem. In service to that very ecosystem, he’s currently acting as the interim executive director for the nonprofit brainchild of SUM — Mission Control Center — which helps small organizations collaborate through a PEO and shared back-office platform. And in true Renaissance fashion, Mathew is also a nationally recognized, award-winning dance artist choreographing for Left Side Labs.

TriplePundit has published articles from over 1000 contributors. If you'd like to be a guest author, please get in touch!

Read more stories by 3p Contributor