Episode 44. What’s Your WHY?

Join me this week as I share the importance of understanding your WHY in creating and sharing your art. It is an amazing tool that:

  • Provides mission clarity
  • Helps in decision-making
  • And you can filter decisions through (big and small)

Exploring and defining your WHY, and understanding what drives you to create and share your work, ultimately creates a deep well of enthusiasm and energy in pursuing your creative passions. 

I also reflect on my own journey of understanding my WHY in making jewelry, and how it led me to be so passionate about sharing, and teaching, other creatives to figure out their own WHY.


What’s Your Why? [00:00:24] Jen reflects on her journey of understanding her WHY in making jewelry and how it led her to help other creatives figure out their own WHY.

Importance of Knowing Your Why [00:04:09] Jen explains why it’s imperative to understand the WHY that drives us, and how it can ground us in our purpose and give us courage to take risks.

Using Your Why to Make Decisions [00:07:21] Jen discusses how knowing your WHY can be a filter for decision-making, helping you make decisions from a place of clarity and purpose.

Questions to Clarify Your Why [00:09:42] Jen shares three questions to help you clarify and define your WHY in your creative work.

Tapping into Your Why [00:14:28] Jen explains the importance of tapping into one’s WHY before creating, or working on a creative project, to ensure that the final offering contains everything that one wants to offer to others.

Crafting jewelry with secret meaning [00:17:47] Jen shares personally about her jewelry WHY – her passion for creating jewelry with secret meaning, that can be passed down through generations, and I use my great-grandmother’s wedding ring as an example.

Living a fully expressed life [00:20:56] Jen shares two examples of clients’ WHYs.

Intuitive creation audio ritual [00:22:22] Jen invites listeners to sign up for her newsletter and receive an intuitive creation audio ritual to help them tap into their creativity before making and creating, and it can help overcome procrastination and overwhelm.

Episode links:

  • Want some support in getting quiet and tuning into what you’re thinking about, or what’s calling to you, today? Go to www.jenmoulton.com/newsletter and sign up to get my completely free Intuitive Creation Audio. You’ll receive my unique process to reliably tap in BEFORE you make any creative work so you can overcome procrastination, overwhelm, and where-do-i-start-itis.

If you enjoy listening, please subscribe, rate and review, and forward this episode to a friend who would benefit from it too.

Let’s become a generation of creative women who are examples for the people in our lives of what it looks like to prioritize our work (AND recognize our impact).

x, Jen

Full episode transcript below:

Welcome to today's episode, What's Your WHY?

I reflect often on where I was just five-ish years ago. I was working away in my backyard studio, making jewelry, trying to learn as much as I could about how to run a creative business. And I was riddled with self-doubt, and  was constantly questioning what I was doing, if it was good enough, why did it matter? And it would usually end in me like questioning, why am I torturing myself by trying to do all of this? When it seems to require a lot of suffering for me? Because I was so in my head in questioning myself. 

One of the things that I can see very clearly in reflection, now, is that I didn't understand why I felt called to make jewelry.

It was never about making pretty designs for me. People would ask me about that when I did popups or shows, and it always felt hollow to me.  It was about so much more than making pretty things. And I think I spent a few years trying to seek support in finding my own answers to those questions, and that ultimately led me to the path that I'm on now, which is turning around and helping other creatives figure it out too, so that they can make their work and make their impact in the world with way less suffering.  

To me, making jewelry was always about making individually engineered pieces that were imbued with meaning, but the meaning was a secret to the owner or the wearer.

And side note, how much more compelling does that sound? Right? My WHY was making individually engineered pieces of jewelry that were imbued with secret meaning. To me that  has so much more energy, and it's more exciting, and more compelling than, well, I just like making pretty designs. I just like making jewelry that people wear.

And there's nothing against the second one that I just shared. But to me there was a lot more depth to it that I, it's almost like I, I think of like a shark, like I was circling around it, like I kind of had a sense of it, but I never had it fully defined for myself,  and therefore I spent a lot of time questioning myself and questioning my path and was I doing it right? And what were other people doing? 

Rather than feeling really clear on why I was doing what I was doing,  really clear on my WHY, and letting that guide me and direct me, and finding wisdom and answers in that, in that knowing. 

  I can see it all so clearly now, you know that like hindsight is 2020. But back then I didn't understand why I felt such a strong calling and I didn't see how my unique perspective made my work stand out. And this is kind of businessy speak, but I can't think of a better term, that was my competitive advantage, and I didn't see that.

 And I definitely didn't see how special the work that I created was, how this specific way that I saw things differentiated me from everyone else on this planet who has made or makes jewelry  .

I have come to believe that really understanding the WHY that drives us is imperative to our confidence in showing up, to believing in ourselves, to feeling deep confidence in pursuing our callings, even, and maybe especially when things feel hard or challenging, or you're just dealing with obstacle after obstacle.

I am endlessly fascinated by the WHY that drives each of us to make and create work. And this is an important distinction to me- to share our work. I often say not everyone who makes creative work feels driven to share their work, and this is a great place to explore. 

I'm gonna share a couple questions for you to explore in a few minutes so that you can begin to understand this for yourself, why are you driven to make the work that you feel called to make? And in addition to why are you driven to make it,  why do you feel called to also share it with others? There's really important information in that.

 I think a lot of creatives don't fully understand what drives them. And, clarifying your WHY ultimately feels like mission clarity.  You know why you do what you do. It no longer feels like, why am I so compelled to do this thing, make my creative work, that is really challenging, and vulnerable, and feels like I'm constantly surfing my growth edges?

And it sometimes maybe even makes me feel a little crazy for doing it, for pursuing it. For sticking with it, for continuing to believe in the vision that I have, even when I don't really see a ton of evidence yet in my reality that it's gonna happen. 

And I wanna share a couple more reasons to know and own your WHY, because I think, clearly I'm very passionate about this, and also I want you to understand ways that you can use this and utilize it to support you.

So it can ground you in who you are and what you feel your purpose is.  Like I said a couple minutes ago, this idea of mission clarity, like really having clarity around who you are, and why you feel like you're here, and what your purpose is. At least for now, you know, I'm talking like your specific why right now. It can shift and it probably will over your lifetime, and I think that's great, but as much as you know right now, you can be defined by that WHY, or you can be really confident in that WHY, and also open to knowing that with time it may grow, and shift, and change for you. I know mine has.

Knowing your WHY also, in my experience with myself and also watching clients, it helps them feel courage to take risks in service of what matters to them. It can be a filter that you can filter decisions through. I think a lot of creatives get caught up in small decisions, like, should I make, this is an example, should I make a print this size or this size? Should  Should I print it on canvas or on paper? You know, these are just really specific examples. And we try to make those decisions logically or based on what we see other people doing. But when you know your WHY, you can make your decisions from there.

So rather than trying to guess, or do what you think you should do, or the worst is  doing what you see other people doing and trying to follow that.

 So rather than guessing, or doing the shoulds, or following what other people are doing, you can make that decision from a place of clarity of your own WHY. And  often the answers are usually pretty obvious when you are in touch with your WHY, about what you should do around small decisions and big decisions too.

I've had this WHY conversation with countless clients, and it always amazes me to watch them transform in the conversation. They often go from struggling with an aspect of their work, or themselves, and then as we dig into the WHY and they get in touch with it, and they start to feel all the energy around it, they brighten up and they have so much more enthusiasm and energy when they're like, oh yeah, that's why I do this thing. That's why I feel so called to do this. That's why I drive myself crazy day in and day out pursuing this path because this is why it matters to me. I'm not just doing it for the accolades, or the achievement, or because I thought I should, or because someone told me I should, all of the achievement external stuff  that I think drives a lot of us, or at least we think it does.

 When we get in touch with the WHY, there's a often  an unlocking of energy and enthusiasm of like lots of clarity around this is why this matters to me, this makes so much sense. It's not just because of what I'm trying to build, it's what I'm trying to offer, what I'm trying to have a vote for in the world, what I'm trying to see more of in the world, what I have figured out and I want other people to know.

That's the line of thinking  and I hope as you're hearing me say that, you hear how expansive that is, and how open that is, and directional that is versus achievement because this is what I was told I should do. I'm trying to do it right. I'm trying to do what other people have done. I'm trying to follow the path, et cetera. That feels to me like restrictive. There's a right and wrong way to do it.  I think a lot of times there's a disconnection within oneself when you're trying to do it that way. And I can say all of this from experience, at least from my personal experience, I think that's true, and I think it's true for other people too. I think that applies to us as humans.

 When you clarify your WHY, when you know your WHY, when you are driven by your WHY, to me it's like putting on a pair of glasses that make your vision extra clear, extra sharp, extra bright, rather than walking around with like maybe cloudy glasses that make things feel uncertain and unknown and like you're kind of just fumbling around trying to figure it out.

That's  the best analogy I can think of around being in touch with and  having your WHY clarified, and being driven by your WHY, versus not really understanding why you're doing what you're doing. Not really understanding what drives you, trying to get things right, trying to do things like through achievement.

 So now I'm gonna share the few questions I have for you that you can use to clarify your WHY. And the first step before I share the questions is for you to envision or imagine what you're wanting to create. Hold the vision of what that looks like, like the specifics, and it's just with what you know right now, you don't have to have more information than you currently have, but you wanna see, to me, I'm a visual person, so I would imagine viewing it in my mind's eye and seeing what I wanna create, what I wanna have, if I was working on a specific project or  maybe a specific art project that I'm working on. Or it can be anything in your life too. I, I'm speaking about it creatively, but it could be literally anything. So if you're a visual person like me, you would envision it. 

Maybe if you're an auditory person, you might describe it to yourself,  talk it out. You might be like a verbal processor, and auditory, so you might talk out what it sounds like to you. If you're a more kinesthetic person, you might feel it, like what would it feel like to  be working in this project or to have this project going on?   Hopefully one of those resonates for you. I think the majority of learners fall into those three categories, but the goal here before you start answering the questions, is to have a vision of what it looks like, what you're wanting to create, and choosing to view it from a place of believing that it's totally possible for you to create it and have it.

And then once you have that in your body, it probably feels a certain way. Hopefully it feels kind of expansive or exciting, or maybe like some possibility or potential. Then answer these three questions. 

So question number one is, what is your WHY for creating this goal or  the vision that you have? Why do you wanna do it? Why does it really matter to you? 

Question number two, why do you wanna create, or offer it? So I want you to go beyond the money. Many people create art and not everyone has a desire to offer it, or to sell it, or to share it with other people. There is a reason that you feel called to share it, offer it, sell it, whatever.  So try to spend a little bit of time again, just with what you know right now, with why do you wanna create it and offer it to other people? Why does that feel important to you? 

  And then question number three is, why is it important for you to create this right now? Basically, like, why now? Why this moment? Why does it matter to you right now? Why not last year? Why not a year from now? There's a reason why you have energy around it right now, and we wanna know that.

I would recommend taking five to 10 minutes and jotting down what comes to mind around these three questions, and then take your mind off of the questions, move on to whatever is next in your world, and see what your mind continues to offer you as it works on answering these questions.

I don't know about you, but my mind is always , I often say noodling on something. So we wanna capture the top line answers that you have for these questions, and then we wanna let your brain noodle on the questions too, and record what it continues to offer you.

You will continue to clarify your WHY as your mind works on it, and you start to maybe see things differently, or get more information, or be reminded of what's important to you or a specific thing that matters to you that feels clarifying.

And my last tip is to tap into your WHY before making, or working towards your creative goals. I believe that our energy is imbued into everything we do, and create, and so it's vital that we utilize the energy that we want to offer through our work, while we create our work, so that we can be sure our final offering, the final product, the final vision, contains everything that we want to offer to other people.

And the reason, okay, so that felt very wordy to me.

And so if you need to go back like 15 seconds and listen to it again, but basically what I'm saying is this is the distinction to me about why you want to create, offer, share this idea, you have the project idea that you have with other people. Yes you may want them to own a piece of art that you've made, or a product, but there's something else that you're trying to offer them through the art or product that you are wanting to share.

You're wanting them to have some sort of experience. And if we can take a little bit of time and back up and define that experience for ourselves, if we are clear about what that experience is that you're really trying to offer, you can be in that place while creating the project idea you have, or the art idea that you have, and then you can be sure that you are offering all of that to the people that you wanna share it with.

I personally think that that is what drives many creatives. And so I think, you know, this whole episode is about backing up and understanding what drives you, the WHY that drives you, I should say. And then when you know that, being in touch with that, when you're making, so that you're offering has not only the art that you wanna make, but also the experience that you're wanting to offer to other people.

 The last thing I'll say, okay, so this is, I guess my last, last thing I'll say is  after those three questions, I would look at your answers and come up with a WHY statement. So, look at the answers that you wrote down, and maybe even after a couple days, all of this information that you've gathered from your own internal wisdom and collect it into a WHY statement. 

Your why statement might include what you're trying to offer, like what you've discovered around that, the experience or message that you really wanna communicate through what you're creating or offering, why you feel driven to do this, your personal motivations and or what you want people to know. It's highly individual, but I would look through the answers that you have to those three questions and pull out things that feel either really important to you, like that you really resonate with, or things that are repeated, and begin to finesse them, hone them, spend time with them. Like, oh, this matters to me because X, Y, Z, and then I wonder why? And then like dig around that a little bit and see what else comes up. 

I'm gonna share a couple with you off the top of my head. So one that I've already shared is  my WHY for when I was making jewelry, which was to make individually engineered pieces of jewelry that were imbued with secret meaning. And I was also really passionate about the idea that the person that was having the piece made, that they would pass it down to the next generation or the next two, three generations. That that piece would survive them and go on to live in their family. 

I'm not sure if I've talked about this, but I wear my great-grandmother's wedding ring as my wedding ring, and she wore it for 70 years and they got married I think in 1921, so it's over a hundred years old. It's so crazy to me. It's engraved.  And  I so often think about her life. She was born in 1889, and being married for 70 years. All of the life that she lived, I think they had five sons, and just all of the minutia life that we live right day to day that our jewelry experiences with us, and then it survives us, right? That has lasted over a hundred years, and that ring is in great shape, it'll probably last for like a couple hundred more. 

 So I was passionate about this idea of engineering pieces with this secret meaning, and also the idea that these pieces,  just every day, kind of humble pieces of jewelry that you would wear, and they would get dinged up and scratched and see you through all phases of life. And then this is this idea of this being imbued, right? This ring is now imbued with your life experiences, some of which you would've shared with other people and some of you wouldn't cause it would just be so mundane, normal life stuff. And then whoever inherits it, they now have something that you wore every day. In my case, my great-grandmother for 70 years. To me, and I still don't have like the perfect language around this, right? This WHY is still being formed for me, that just felt so special, and meaningful, and important, and  a humble gold ring, right? How special it is because of the way that it was worn, and the way that it's now been shared with me, And now I wear it, and all of the life experiences I have as my great-grandmother's great-granddaughter. And what will it see me through in my life and who will receive it after me?  That's my WHY around making jewelry.

Again, I shared in the beginning of this episode, I didn't totally really grasp this at the time, but now I can see it, and I really want other people to understand WHY their creative work really matters to them, because that is what we're really trying to offer. Anyway, I'm getting on my soapbox again.

Okay, so a couple more WHY's:  to remind people of the joy of being alive, like the simple pleasures of being alive. And the other one is to explore what it looks like to live out your full expression as a human. That is highly individual, but what does that mean for this person to live as a fully expressed human? That was her WHY.

Okay. That is what I have for you today. I hope that you begin to craft your WHY. I would love to hear it. This is like one of my favoritest things to talk about ever. So if you wanna share it with me, please do. Please send it my way and we can chat about it. And I hope that, I guess ultimately, that you  spending time clarifying, defining your WHY, helps you know yourself better. Because I think that's part of the goal too. It doesn't have to be like, this is my elevator pitch. You know? It's more about this is who I am, this is what I stand for, this is why I believe I'm here, and now I have maybe even just a couple percentage points more understanding around that, and I'm excited to keep uncovering this path. That's my hope for you. 

I'm so glad that you were here and that we get to walk our paths together. See you next time. Same time, same place. Bye for now.


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