Finding Your Why

{This post originally appeared at In Beauty & Chaos on September 18, 2014}

Kate Densmore Photography-1

I closed my eyes, and hit publish. Even though I knew how amateur it still was, I also knew that I had to start somewhere. And it would be easier to start today than tomorrow. So I decided to just try.

Five years later, I’m finally doing what I set out to do that day. It wasn’t easy, it didn’t happen overnight, and it took a number of false starts and failures to get to where I am now. And more than anything, it took me finding my Why.

Your Why should be deeply personal. The one thing that you will be able to hold onto no matter how rocky the path gets, how steep the trail goes, how many things hold you back. Your Why is what motivates you to keep going despite that. After you’ve learned the hows, your Why is what tells you to wake up at 5:30am to get the work done, or to stay up past everyone else’s bedtime. It’s what you listen to when you aren’t sure which voices should matter. And it’s what you return to after you’ve experienced failure.

Your Why is your touchstone. Your true north. The reason you are chasing your dreams, because rarely do the dreams themselves have enough weight to keep you going when the going gets tough.

It took effort for me to find my true Why. I thought I knew my motivations, but then things changed and I discovered how flimsy they were, and I quit. I didn’t want it bad enough, and I certainly didn’t have a strong enough motivation to try anyways.

That was 4 years ago. I didn’t think I would ever be able to take the kinds of photographs I yearned to take, and I certainly didn’t think I’d be able to run a thriving business. And 4 years ago, I probably couldn’t have. I was immature photographically, I listened to the wrong kinds of voices, and more than anything, I didn’t have a strong enough sense of purpose to override all the hard. I didn’t have my Why.

I’m not going to tell you what my Why is, because that isn’t the point, and quite honestly, it’s deeply personal, as all good Whys should be. My Why isn’t necessarily your Why. You need to find your own. What is that thing that you are willing to do anything for? Is it your need to create? Your family? Your own sense of self, and need for an identity? Your deep need to show your kids how much they are loved? Do you need to contribute to the family budget? It doesn’t matter if you are a professional or a hobbyist, if you shoot with the newest, fastest gear, or have a secondhand crop sensor camera, finding a deeper sense of purpose will keep you grounded and working towards your goals.

I found my Why last year, when I realized the one thing I would do anything to maintain was in danger of slipping away from me. And it’s the one thing that motivates me to work hard, especially on the work that isn’t exciting or glamorous. Because that is where true success happens. I know you can find your Why, too. Perhaps you even already know what it is. Maybe it’s right in front of you, but you just haven’t recognized it for what it is. Or maybe you are still searching. Be patient with yourself if you are. Chances are you already know what it is, you just haven’t discovered that it’s the thing you’ve been looking for.

I encourage you to look for your Why, and once you’ve found it, hold onto it. Write it down, or put something in your daily life that is a visual reminder, constantly, of your Why. You will be more focused, more motivated, and ultimately happier, as a result.

Kate DensmoreComment