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Developing Your “Why”: How to Work for MORE Than Just Money

Nathan Brooks
5 min read
Developing Your “Why”: How to Work for MORE Than Just Money

So, you wake up, you put your favorite face-melting metal band song on your fancy tablet-sized cellular phone device, and begin mentally crushing your competition. You look in the mirror, put on your well-cut suit and skinny tie, and bam. You’re ready to go pound the pavement and bring home the bacon.

But… for what?

You are out there working 12 or 14-hour days, crawling through the nastiest houses on the planet in the freezing cold and rain, battling locusts, maybe dodging rogue school children and wild folks driving SUVs like they are the only ones on the road. You approach the next potential investment property, flashlight in hand, with your hardhat on like you’re the national spelunking team captain.

I don’t want to rain on your proverbial parade, but what are you doing all this work for?

Some people are motivated to give a better life to their children, starting a legacy of sorts; some others are more motivated by growing a business and seeing it come to fruition. Others are motivated purely with financial motives, and some are driven just to build something. I’ve known all these types of people and seen their lifestyles — the way they tick and their motivations — through relationships and deals I’ve done with them.

Looking Beyond Money for Money’s Sake

Money doesn’t make anything. It’s purely a vehicle. A tool. It can enable where you live, where you go or can travel to, what you eat, and what you can buy. Money doesn’t creative happiness; it creates opportunity. And it certainly can be used in incredible ways — and it can be used destructively.

Related: Why Your Real Estate Business Should Mean More to You Than A Way to Simply Make Money

Think about pro sports players. I Googled “sports players who have lost their fortunes,” and post after post, link after link came up with people we know, like Johnny Unitas, Scottie Pippin, Marion Jones, Kenny Anderson, Warren Sapp, Allen Iverson, and Mike Tyson. All of these people had incredible, amazing, sometimes unfathomable fame and incredible wealth. And they all have stories of how they made all that money, and through poor decisions, poor management, terrible advice, drugs, jail, and stupidity, they have lost most or all of their fortunes.

I could write an entire book on the topic of how these athletes lose sight of their situations and the goldmines they’re sitting on, but that isn’t the point of this post. It’s about your “WHY.” If you ask me, these folks did one of two things: they chose the wrong “why,” or they didn’t have one in the first place.

Money and fame: it goes away. Like in every rock and roll song, or rap song, or country song… whatever it might be, pop culture tells us time and time again that we want to get rich, retire, buy a massive house on a hillside overlooking Beverly Hills, throw parties, and invite famous people over to party. Don’t get me wrong here; having seen what the hillside houses (mansions) there look like, it doesn’t sound too shabby. And I love to have an incredible dinner with friends, and drink great wine, and travel — these are things my wife and I LOVE to do together.

But when you dig deeper into your WHY, if it involves superficial things, or changing your state with drugs and alcohol, or buying things just because you can beyond your means, you are not living life.

My Own “Why”

I have my “Why” on my cell phone in a note, and I review it — probably not as often as I should. On my phone, I originally wrote and stored the note on August 18th, 2012, and it reads, “My Big Why: Financial Freedom for My Family.” As in, I have no debt on my personal residence, we own 100+ rentals, my business is in place running itself, and I’m likely making $1 million+ a year between rentals and fix and flip properties.

What does that mean? You may be saying to yourself, But it still says money on there — and you would be correct. But it also includes another word: freedom. I don’t want to be controlled by money; I want to have the freedom and flexibility that come with wealth building, passive income, and making good decisions.

And through financial freedom, I have the ability to do:

– Spend quality time with my family, wife, and children

– Travel — not for a few days, but extensive travel/living abroad

– Philanthropy

– Pay for college out of pocket for our children

– Make an incredible impact on others by transforming homes, even neighborhoods, for the better

You don’t need to have my wants, desires, dreams, or “Why.” You should have your own. And I invite you to take out a pen and paper, or open an iPhone note, and begin dreaming for a minute.

4 Steps to Developing Your “Why”

1. Ask Yourself: What Do You Want Out of Life?

Really… at the core of it all, what do you want out of life? Don’t make it a small “why” either; make it massive. It’s not exciting to chase small dreams; it’s a rush to chase big ones.  

So, take 5 minutes, and just write: things you want to do, that you don’t want to do. And what is the biggest motivator for you?

If you want to test your “Why,” ask your buddies. If they don’t squirm a little when you tell them (or laugh, or ask to be on your team immediately), you might not have made it big enough. Also, make sure that you discuss it with your spouse. Make sure you guys are on the same page. If you aren’t, better keep working on it together. Have a plan. You have to stick with the plan, adjusting as you go if you want it to come to fruition.

2. Think About the Steps You Need to Take to Get You There

Is it paying off credit cards, is it quitting something (eating out, drinking, buying expensive cars, wasting money on ____ )? Then write it down. Don’t have a budget? Better make one.

If it is starting something, like meditation and gratitude time or getting to the gym everyday, what are the things that put you in the right state to be the most productive, that help you produce the best results? Do those things.

And above all: Stop. Making. Excuses.

3. Write Out the Things That You Will Be Enabled to Do

Is it traveling through wine country in France for a month or two (yes, this is definitely on my list), or paying off your personal house before the age of 40 (also on my list), or giving your kids an amazing financial gift when they are married, or setting up your spouse on a great vacation getaway with one of their friends, or taking your parents to a place they have never been able to experience?

Related: The 3-Step Exercise to Help You Work Towards the Life You Want

All of these are worthy, fun, exciting, and help you visualize what the “Why” is going towards.

4. Turn Your “Why” into a Plan, and Your Plan into Actionable Steps

Want to own 100 rentals? Or have 4 fix and flip crews working at once? Make a plan. Start doing said plan.

Any “Why” requires massive action, and that action requires all these things to be lined up, working towards the “Why,” therefore enabling you to do the things you want. You must have a plan, a budget, and a timeline, and you must visit them often. Hone it. Revise it. Scrap sections, and re-write it. Learn from it. Learn for it.

Let your “Why” become what it should be: why you are working so hard, why you don’t want to make all this money and then end up like those sports personalities who didn’t have a plan in place once they made their money. Stay grounded and humble, and work hard.

It’s your “Why,” and you must believe it and do it. Believe you can, and all along the way, during setbacks or incredible movements forward, you will have clarity and purpose, and you will make that “Why” your reality.

What is your “Why”? How are you working towards it?

I want to know what motivates you! Don’t forget to leave a comment below.

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.