A Year Without a Why, is a Year of…?

Reposted with permission from LinkedIn Blog of Dr. Ingrid Hart

There is a question that every organization, every leader, and every individual should ask.  It is awkwardly stated but intentionally posed as a lens through which actions ought to be filtered.  As plans for a successful year are underway, the question has to be asked: “A year without a why, is a year of… ?  The answer to that question is at then end; let’s begin with what is typically on the minds of many at the dawn of a new year.

Resolutions. Resolutions are a big deal at the beginning of  any year. Individuals make resolutions but do businesses?  Yes!  A resolution is simply a firm decision to do something; it is a plan – strategic or tactical – that provides a blueprint for the year ahead.  Business resolutions (or plans) are more involved and more complex than individual resolutions because business necessitate the cooperative efforts of others.  
What is your organization’s resolution(s) for this year?  As a member or a leader of an organization, can you define, articulate, describe, and communicate those plans?   Business resolutions translate into the “what” and dictate the activities of the day-to-day operations.  If you can articulate the what, can you share the why? Hold that thought (parenthetically) for a moment.

Having a “what” keeps you on track to accomplish a task, a goal, or an objective. The good thing about a track is that… it is a track.  The bad thing about a track is that… it is a track.  Ironic or iconic?

A track represents a path;  it requires continuous adherence to arrive at a destination.  In the next few months, it will become easier to lose oneself in the every-day tasks of work (or personal) life and forget the reason that an action is important (or unimportant).  This simple focus on tasks introduces the risk of an entire year passing as a series of chronos moments that reflect the passage of time, rather than kairos moments, that reflect a window of opportunities.

Infusing the organization culture and members with the why of plans, infuses a life-source that yields buy-in, fresh ideas, and spurs growth.   The why, also signals when it is time to stop, or switch and take a different route.  That question of why has to be revisited often to continually remind that the goal is to get to a desired destination not just “a destination.”  How important is this? Vastly important.

The why is the purpose or reason that reveals motives and motivations for doing something.  It is not sufficient to want to accomplish, but to know why that thing is wanted or desired to be accomplished.  I pose the “why” question for each goal and trait that I hold as important and it is an exhaustive list.

My faith matters most. Why? Integrity is a key element of my character. Why? Positively affecting the lives of others through various platforms is important. Why?  I want to be successful and excellent. Why?  The answers to these “whys” would be a fascinating read (I am sure) but for now, I defer to the reason why writing this piece was important.

Rote actions denigrate gifts and talents when the mind is used to engage in a track of repetitive thoughts and actions that become mindless activities.  We all share similar constraints but we individually and collectively have the abilities to create disparate opportunities.  This is a mark of success. Asking why fuels each business and personal decision while governing the use of time and resources.
My time is limited, so I will limit what I do with my time. My resources are limited, so I will limit how (and where) I expend my resources. It is a daily exercise of wise choices that reflect meaning and purpose.  This is the aha moment of life that brings satisfaction. To experience a year that’s different than ever before, propagate the why, not just the what; if you cannot articulate the why, then ask…why.

There is an answer to that awkwardly phrased question: “A year without a why is a year of…?”  It really is a fill-in-the-blank, and the answer is found at the end; literally the answer is at the end of a year.  How so?  At the end of a year, the organization or the individual, who exhausted 12 months without a clearly defined why, ends up with a long list of “whats.” What we did…what I did…and what was done.  If energy, time, or resources is to be expended, know the why.

Know your why before your what, or at least seek to understand your why as you engage in the “what” of everyday tasks.

Let the why be the driver and the what be the support; however, this is just the starting point.  After you assess and understand the why, determine if the why, reflect your values.

By the way, accounting is fun (AIF); fundamental; and mental (in a good, positive, and challenging way). AIF!  Those are three good reasons why I am good at what I do in accounting.

Have a wonderful and accomplished year.    


Dr. Ingrid Amelia Hart is a Certified Public Accountant, a speaker, and a consultant with expertise in accounting and professional services, strengthened by years in academia as an accounting professor.  

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