I want you to take a moment, right now, wherever you are, and think about where you are in your life. The decisions you’ve made and the things that have happened that have led you to this very moment. Were those choices deliberate? Did things happen by accident? A bit of both?
Are you living where you live because it’s where you want to be? Or because it’s just where you’ve always lived?
Are you happy with your job? Did you pick it because it paid well? Are you doing what you love? Or did you end up with an OK job because of the ‘tough economy’ or because, well, you did go to school for it afterall?
Lots of people get to where they are by circumstance. By being reactive to the things that happen to them. They let the fear of being solely responsible for their lives dictate their decisions, or indecision. Inaction leads to anything and everything else being in charge of your life.
We need to take ownership in our lives. We need to understand why we do the things we do. Otherwise, we’re just going with the flow. We’re just a passenger in our own car. The question then, is who’s driving?
Sometimes it’s easier to just react and blame the circumstances instead of taking responsibility by making hard choices. That’s not to say that there won’t be things that are out of your control, but we can’t just use the situation as an excuse for everything that happens in our lives.
When we started Solve Design, we didn’t quite have a plan. We needed to make money to survive, so we took on any work we could get. This kept us afloat, but by doing so it also began dictating the direction of our company. We were taking jobs we didn’t love because we never understood why we were doing the work in the first place. So we finally decided to ask ourselves.
Why Do You Do What You Do?
When you ask yourself why, you begin to discover your intentions. And intention is defined in the dictionary as ‘an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.’ So when you begin to ask why you do what you do, you’ve taken the first step towards actually doing something based on your values. Intentions, good or bad, are the motivators of action. And when we take action, we are taking control of and responsibility for our lives.
At Solve Design, we realized that in order to steer our company in the direction we wanted it to go, we needed to ask ourselves why, and use the answer to shape our values as a company. It took a good amount of digging and soul searching, but we’ve come up with the following principles to help guide our company:
- We believe that building and creating is a gift inherent in our bones
- We love making a real difference in people’s lives by solving real problems
- We believe that everything we build should have a purpose
- We can’t settle for less than the best versions of ourselves, and we want to translate that into our services and products
- We feel that, as human beings, we’ve been charged with the passion to help others
- We strive to enrich the lives of those we encounter
- We believe that because work takes up so much of our time, we should strive to make it fun
- We’re tired of outdated corporate structures, conventions, and cultures, and want to do our part in creating the new age of work
- We believe in the value of process over production
- We believe we should never stop learning, and never stop sharing what we learn
These principles will be at the core of every decision we make as a company going forward. What’s interesting is that these company values are a direct reflection of who we are as people. By keeping our company values close to that of our own, we’re keeping the company as human as possible.
This is what we’re passionate about, and by clearly defining why we do what we do, we’ve made it easier to make decisions on behalf of the company, and this allows us to to steer the company in the direction we choose.
Stop being a passenger.
When you start with why, your perspective shifts. You start to see purpose. You start to see the importance of the decisions you make, and how that affects your life and the lives of others. It puts you in the driver’s seat. That can be scary. But I promise it’s better than living a passive life by someone else’s rules. One day you may look up and realize that life has only happened around you.
So, again, I encourage you to take a moment and ask yourself why you do what you do. Take control of your life. Make your own rules. Do what you love. Have purpose. We’re all on this earth for a finite amount of time. How will you spend yours? As the passenger, or the driver?