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

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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.

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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.

About Author

Nathan Brooks

Nathan Brooks is the co-founder and CEO of Bridge Turnkey Investments, a Kansas City-based company renovating and selling more than 100 turnkey properties per year. With over a decade of experience in real estate, Nathan is a seasoned investor with a large personal portfolio and a growing business portfolio. Just last year, through Bridge Turnkey Investments, he helped investors add over $12 million in value to their real estate portfolios. Nathan regularly produces educational content to fuel his passion for helping other people learn about and find success in real estate investing. He has been featured regularly on industry podcasts such as the BiggerPockets Podcast, Active Duty Passive Income Podcast, Freedom Real Estate Investing Podcast, Fearless Pursuit of Freedom Podcast, Titanium Vault, The Real Estate Investing Podcast, The Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show, the Good Success Podcast, FlipNerd, Wholesaling Inc., The Real Estate Investing Profits Master Series, Flipping Junkie Podcast, Flip Empire podcast, Think Realty Radio, and more. He is a sought-after speaker and writer and can be found on stage regularly at events across the country.


  1. Michael Williams

    Mr Nathan, I LOVE THIS POST. The example of the Athletes that have no money management skills is an example I frequently discuss with my family members and soon to be ex-friends. Well they will still be friends but if they can’t come to open their minds to the reality that in order to be wealthy you have to change your mindset and do something different; they will be outside of my immediate circle because I value masterminds.

    Like you my motivation for wanting to create generational wealth through real estate is to provide for my family all of the advantages that you mentioned and not money. One other reason I may add is that I will use my wealth and influence to make a valiant attempt to educate key members in my family and 2 friends to start businesses and educate or lead by example other family members to pursue an education in wealth creation. I have decided to make this happen by any means necessary so I am laser focused on my goal. I have my Definite Chief Aim written in Blue Ink on a piece of White paper in my wallet. “I Will Dedicate My Life To Creating Generational Wealth and Educate my Family on the Same Principles Through My Actions”.

    I know that money is only a vehicle to the freedom and if all of your assets are in currency the chances are greater that you will go broke. Especially if you currency is not moving. I am building a turnkey operation business that will be perpetual.

    Please excuse my long reply but I am passionate about this topic. I have to cut it off because it seems that I am creating another post within your post. Thank you for this post.

    • Nathan Brooks

      Michael … brother. I feel your passion through my computer. I’m grateful for all the time you took to write this response, and I too feel that passion to teach my relatives and friends as well. I remember the first time reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and the epiphany I had from that reading, and education.

      Thank you for sharing your goals, and why, and overall fired-upness 🙂 … it gets me more fired up to get after it this very minute. Peace! Keep after it …

  2. I can tell you why I do all those things. It’s the same reason that I do everything – because I enjoy doing it. Some years ago I was at a networking type meeting and during a break a small group of business owners came over and asked me:

    “So; what is the primary focus of Your business?”

    “Primary focus? I’m not sure I know what you mean.”

    “What’s the reason you have a business? Why are you in business?”

    I thought for a second and then jokingly replied: “To keep me amused.”

    It got a laugh but then I thought for another second and added: “I never really thought about it before – but that Really why I’ve done it all these years – to keep myself amused.”

    They all got sort of awkward faces, stood there for a second looking uneasy, and soon after thought of somewhere else they had to be. None of them ever spoke to me again.

    I hadn’t ever really thought about it before but in that unguarded moment I zero’ed in on it with laser-beam grade accuracy.


    • Nathan Brooks

      Stephen .. thanks for taking the time to read the post and respond. And, I can only imagine being the fly-on-the-wall for that conversation, and seeing their bug eyes wondering what was happening. I do think being amused, content, happy … with our job, profession, and/or business.

      I do think there is something here, to me anyway, that is missing. With being amused, comes a feeling of … amusement … feeling of happiness, or fun, or excitement. There are definitely days in any business that are anything but amusing. And so having the why, and the things that are derived from it …remind us what we are working so hard for, help us refocus, and further push us back towards the WHY.

  3. Donna Paget

    I love the way you have helped focus this idea of the “why.” So many times inspirational pep talks say to find your WHY, but I never really knew how to put it into words. Money seems to be the easy answer, but you really dug into making us think of specifics. It is ironic that I was just thinking of this today, so your post was very timely! Thanks!

    • Nathan Brooks

      Donna … thanks so much for taking time to read and respond. And I am glad to hear it felt that I dug into the topic. For me, I always try to dig a little deeper, into a topic, into my business, into myself. And I appreciate hearing it was serendipitous timing for you … and delivered the topic and information I was hoping to!

  4. Suzanna Lam

    Great post, Nathan. Many real estate newbies I’ve talked to have no idea that real estate investing is a serious business. It’s not a side business. It is a serious business so think and treat it like a real business. That means they need to:

    1. Have big enough reason WHY they do it. It’s not about money although many real estate investors, myself included, started out because of the money. But after awhile, I realized that if I was in it just for the money then when I didn’t make the money I wanted to make I will give up real estate. Lucky for me, another powerful business model taught me that I needed a “Why” so I used that to apply to my real estate business, and that’s why I’m still in real estate.

    2. Have a business plan. Yes, you need to envision how many houses you’re going to buy this coming year in 2015. How many marketing persons you’re gonna need to hire to run your marketing machine. How much in marketing dollar you’re gonna need to spend to get to your targeted sales ratio etc…

    3. Identify raw talents and start recruiting them into your business so you can train them to do what you do. That way you have more time for yourself and let other people do the work for you. I’d be OK splitting my profit if I can train a brand new real estate investor from the ground up as long as he signs to give me from 30%-50% on everything he makes. No coaching fee is needed if I coach some one like that.

    4. Never stop growing and have a “helping” mental mindset. Continue to seek out business opportunities out there that can complement the real estate business. For example, I come across many investors with lots of money who don’t know what to do with their money other than real estate. So I found a business that can help those investors to earn more money in between deals so their money don’t sit idle. If I didn’t have a “helping” mental mindset, I would never have seen the business opportunity that would complement my real estate business.

    5. Have fun and have an open mind. Your way is not the only way, dude, be willing to listen and change for the better.

    • Michael Williams

      Hi Suzanna

      I am a new investor in Atlanta and If I could find a seasoned investor in Atlanta that makes the offer that you just made to train me from the ground up I would gladly sign over 30%- 50% of everything I make in exchange for priceless knowledge about Real Estate investing. Plus I am very teachable.

    • Nathan Brooks

      HI Suzanna … thanks so much for taking time to read and respond to my blog post. It sounds like you have laser focus, and are looking to grow your business. I also am thinking about what it looks like to bring on another investor/realtor/manager in my business … always challenges and rewards when it comes to expanding. I wish you the best success in 2015!

  5. Frankie Woods

    Excellent post. I really don’t think many people take a long hard look at these questions. I think most everyone does agree that they want financial freedom. To many, financial freedom is directly porportional to $$$. In all honesty, you don’t need a lot of mony to be free. It all depends on the level of comfort you desire. And the problem with comfort is that once you get a taste, you generally want more. In that way, financial freedom can also be somewhat of a trap.

    But, I digress. I think I want the same things you’ve mentioned above. But my favorite aspect was the desire to “Make an incredible impact on others by transforming homes, even neighborhoods, for the better.” This is ultimately what I want. And furthermore, I want transform these neighborhoods without gentrification. That means, I need to impress upon targeted neighborhoods the importance of education. That can be accomplished by providing opportunities. Which leads to scholorships, and ultimately to a school curriculm/program for the underprivalaged. As you said, think big! Awesome stuff! You really got my juices flowing!

    • Nathan Brooks

      Frankie … I hear you loud and clear man. I know what you mean with the neighborhoods, and education, and not in terms of gentrification. It is something dear to my heart as well … I have seriously looked at, and continue to, the thought of buying entire neighborhoods, blocks, subdivisions …etc .. keep after it, look forward to hear how things are going.

  6. Chris K.

    I was just discussing my long-term big-picture dreams with a friend earlier this week– perfect timing to read your post! My wife and I just launched a faith based company and the dream is to purchase all the homes in our neighborhood, improve all of them, offer some as privately subsidized low income and/or transitional living for ex-cons and addicts, and fund large scale community outreach projects including scholarship funds. The Why for us has nothing to do with money at all — it’s about building community.

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