What do you do when your why changes?

I am currently reading Simon Sinek’s book, Start with why. He suggests that successful people, organizations, teams, and  companies are those that have a clear why. They never lose sight of their why. Everything they do (how and what) is focused on their why. Floundering organizations lost sight of their why and became fixated on how and what.

I started this “career” in 1999 with a clear why.

Why- I believed that students could get the most of their college experiences by being aware of the opportunities available to them and then taking full advantage of them.

How- higher education administration

What- student affairs programs and services that help students

I have been floundering since 2010. Rudderless.

I am no longer interested in things that (to me) are silly or time sucks. My tolerance for BS is very low and my BS meter is on high alert. Yik Yak and student development theory are irrelevant in my day-to-day work. I know I am done when students email me with seemingly innocuous questions and I want to blow a gasket. Thankfully I am mature enough not to do so in public. But, the fact that I even want to is very telling.

How did I get here? I used to be passionate (barf) about my work. I used to believe that it mattered. I have been beating myself up asking “When did I lose my why? How do I get it back?” Reading this book, praying, listening to trusted friends and mentors, and letting go of some things has provided clarity.

I didn’t lose my why. My why (your why) isn’t a set of car keys. You don’t lose them and then find them again. A why is never lost.

My why changed on 12/12/2008 when my son was diagnosed with cancer. I wish that this wasn’t my why. Some days, I hate my why. I wish that I could change my why. But, I can’t. I know too much and I cannot go back to who I was before my son got sick. Truthfully, for me, going back would be a disservice to him and his fight, to our family’s fight, to my personal fight to become a better mother, a better person, an informed advocate.

I have spent the last five years (!?!?!)  trying to make myself into someone I am not. I have been trying to convince myself that I want things I do not want. That I am supposed to want them. I am a square peg and I’ve been trying to force myself into the round hole of student affairs.

My why changed but my situation has not. Even writing that is liberating. Gosh that really is it. I am not crazy. I am not incompetent. I am not a bad person or a bad professional. So what do you do when your why changes?

I. have. no. idea.

But I feel lighter than I have felt in years. And I am excited to see where the path will go next.