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Find Your Passion in Work: What Is Your Why?

“Find Your Passion in Work: What is Your Why?” was originally posted by hint Founder & CEO, Kara Goldin, on LinkedIn here:

Recently I’ve been thinking about the idea of purpose — how to help the people who work for and with me find theirs, how I find mine, and how much it matters.

It’s an idea inspired by Ali Brown. We met as part of EY female entrepreneurs. She runs a coaching service that helps small businesses, primarily women entrepreneurs, figure out the fundamentals of their businesses. She had a conference and asked me to attend and be a speaker.

At the conference, I shared my 30-40 minute presentation, talking to the group of about 100 women about how I started Hint. Afterward she pointed to me and said, “You’ve figured out your why.” I wondered what she meant.

She said “the ‘why” behind Hint is that I founded the company because I didn’t like drinking water myself and couldn’t find the product that I wanted — that I first creating a product that helped me (in this case, it helped me get healthier) and I then extended it to helping all sorts of other people. She pointed out that I focused on my unique passion and desire in the world…and grew from there. She was absolutely right.

In one of my last Linked In pieces, I talked about how work should be fun. But if you don’t do things every day that are tied to your why, it just seems like it’s work. It would be like working in car design when you don’t even own a car. If you’re doing something that isn’t fundamentally driven by your passion or your own desires, you’ll be frustrated with your boss. You’ll think the company should pay you more money. You won’t be happy, because it’s just not in your DNA.

On the other hand, once you’ve figured out your why and you spend a whole chunk of your day heading toward that, it’s very fulfilling.

So how do you find your why? Here’s what I’ve discovered.

You Already Know. Follow Your Own Clues. I see so many people who say to me, “I’m in a rut.” One way out: to uncover the answers you already know. You know yourself and what you love better than anyone else. What do you think about everyday? Do you think about music? Do you think about yoga? Do you think about Nepal? Look at what you already do for fun and ask yourself the question: “How can I have some kind of impact everyday on that?” Once you start moving in that direction, then you have a why. You’re taking action on something because you care about it. Remember: this is totally unique to you. One of my kids is interested in debate. Another is interested in horseback riding. They come from the same place, and they are different people. Your path is your own. And you do already know the way.

Do A Gut Check By “Hearing” Your Body

Another way of feeling your way toward your why is to listen. But not to all the voices around you. Instead, listen to your own body. When you think about taking a particular course of action – accepting a new assignment, taking a new job, going on that particular trip, how does it feel in your body? Where do you feel it? Does it make you feel lighter or more constricted? That is a strong clue to what step you should take next. Because Hint is about health, I’ve gotten conscious about what happens in my body. And even as a CEO, doing frequent “gut checks“ is an important activity. You can call it listening to your heart. You can frame it as intuition. The important part is to notice, without judging or censoring yourself, how different possible options make you feel. It can lead you in the right direction.

Give Yourself A Minute – Reflect Before You Act

The other part of that is to be sure you make the time for checking in with yourselfbefore you take a big step. Recently I was speaking to a group of female entrepreneurs who were soon-to-be graduates from George Washington University. Other execs were there. It was fascinating to me to hear that so many people were giving the advice just get a job…do anything at all…go out to the Silicon Valley and take any job. I gave the opposite advice. Before jumping, figure out is that what you really want to do. Is that where your passion is? If you go out and get a job in at Facebook just because everyone says so, you might turn around in a few years and realize you’re really unhappy.

If you look at people who have found happiness in their first career or who really like what they’re doing in their second career, they typically figured out what was important to them before moving in a new direction. I look at the number of attorneys I meet–including my husband who describes himself as a recovering lawyer–who are unhappy because they went into law simply because they were smart and they could. You can do anything. Be led by your dreams not your problems. Choose what you want to do.

And remember: this isn’t something that is just a once-in-a-lifetime or early-career activity. As you change, your “why” may as well—or the ways it wants to be expressed in your life. Check in with yourself. Don’t assume you know. Give your inner voice a chance to speak. You may be surprised at the answers.

Kara Goldin is Founder and CEO of Hint Water, the fastest-growing flavored water in the United States. Kara started Hint when she couldn’t find a healthy water that tasted great without questionable additives like sweeteners. Hint Water has 0 calories, 0 sugar, and 0 diet sweeteners and can be purchased online at www.drinkhint.com in a variety of flavors including Blackberry and Watermelon, in both still and sparkling.