How to Consistently Act From Your Deepest “Why” and Optimize Your Time

Benjamin Hardy, PhD
Thrive Global
Published in
10 min readOct 13, 2017


It is the norm to waste large portions of one’s time.

Most people have very low standards for how they use their time.

They don’t have clarity about where they should direct their attention.

They haven’t created conditions to get clear on a daily basis.

They don’t believe they deserve to spend their time on ONLY those things which fascinate, challenge, and motivate them.

They haven’t discovered nor clarified their deepest held motivations, both for specific goals and for their life in general.

They act and operate from their base-level reasons, which aren’t inspiring.

Hence, most people’s time is spent either on stuff that literally irritates them, or at best, is merely “okay.”

When you spend most of your time doing activities that irritate you, or are just okay, how do you think you come-off to the rest of the world?

Irritated and bored?

Lacking clarity and purpose?

Disconnected and distracted?

How do you make the shift?

How do you get clear about what you want?

How do you connect with your deepest held convictions and identity?

How do you operate at peak levels, daily?

How do you enhance your sense of self-worth, and continually upgrade what you believe you can have in your life?

How do you surround yourself with other people who are focused on growth and giving, rather than greed and taking?

By the end of this article, you will be better suited to grapple with these questions.

Your Life Is A Reflection Of What You Believe You Deserve

Everything in your life, right now, is a reflection of what you believe you deserve.

Subconsciously, you believe you are “unworthy” of anything beyond what you currently have.

Unworthy to have more.

Unworthy to contribute more.

Unworthy to experience more.

Unworthy to connect deeper.

Where do these internal attitudes come from? They come from your behaviors.

Your behaviors dictate your beliefs about yourself and the world. If you eat unhealthy food, how do you think that will influence your sense of identity?

What if you changed it up?

What if, instead of eating unhealthy foods, you DECIDED to eat only healthy foods, just for one single day.

How you act and what you do shapes your internal identity. Hence, when you make a personal investment in yourself, you create an immediate psychological upgrade.

You raise the bar on what you believe you’re worth.

You raise the bar on what you believe you can do.

You raise your standards for:

  • the type of person you want to be
  • the quality of work you want to do
  • the types of people you want to be around
  • the way you spend your time
  • and the lifestyle you have

Elevating your sense of what you deserve isn’t about entitlement. It’s about growth. At the deepest level, it’s about giving and gratitude — the hallmarks of abundance.

You give because you already have so much (everything you need and more).

You give because you’re grateful.

You give because you genuinely want to help other people.

You give because you want to grow.

And you grow, because you want to give more. As the saying goes, ‘don’t work to make money… make money so you can do more and better work.’

The first step, then, to using your time in the best possible way, is to elevate what you believe you deserve. If you don’t believe you deserve to spend your time on amazing things, you’ll continually sabotage yourself. You’ll continue to act in ways to PROVE TO YOURSELF you aren’t worth more. You’ll try to keep yourself small.

You elevate your sense of belief by changing your behavior in the here-and-now.

At every next level of your personal evolution, you’ll realize how low your standards once were. You’ll realize how limiting your beliefs and behaviors used to be.

You won’t judge your former self based on your current values, skills, and circumstances. You’ll love your former self, and steps upward you were taking.

You’ll only look back with gratitude.

You’ll only look forward seeking growth and transformation, not greed and transaction.

Spend Time Getting Clear, Every Single Day

The reason airplanes get to their intended destination is because they are continually course-correcting.

Throughout the flight, they get bumped and pushed off-course due to wind and other external conditions.

If their course corrections were sporadic, inconsistent, or non-existent, they’d never get where they intended to go.

Likewise, if you want to make daily progress and evoke the compound effect — which is where exponential momentum kicks-in — you need to create conditions for clarity, every single day.

You won’t get clarity just anywhere. You need to set up conditions to get clarity (just like you need to set up conditions for inspiration and creativity).

The optimal environments for getting clear are:

  1. Completely outside of your routine environment
  2. First thing in the morning, in an environment that you’ve made sacred

Seeing The Forest For The Trees

“This is a fundamental irony of most people’s lives. They don’t quite know what they want to do with their lives. Yet they are very active.”— Ryan Holiday

If you’re in the middle of the forest, it’s hard to see the big picture.

The worm’s-eye view is great for focus.

The bird’s-eye view is great for perspective.

You need both, regularly.

The worm’s-eye view is your day-to-day routine.

The bird’s-eye view is the direction your headed, and why.

If you don’t regularly step back from the worm’s-eye view, you’re like the airplane that never corrects its course.

You’ve got to get back to the first principles. To the foundation. To the big picture. Every step needs to be directed and focused.

At least weekly, it’s good to step outside of your routine environment and give yourself a few hours to unplug, reset, and re-direct.

There is a reason that taking regular sabbaticals or “mini-retirements” is related to peak performance, productivity, and creativity.

Human beings need time to recharge, to think, and to rest.

Those who are working the most aren’t those who are DOING the most.

A sharp saw will do far more in a few strokes than a dull saw will in many.

Because most people lack clarity, they aren’t even sawing the right tree.

Because most people have low standards for themselves, they’re fine spending large portions of time doing work that isn’t making an impact. They’re fine, and even prefer, not getting stuff done.

Don’t Allow Yourself to Be Distracted While You’re Getting Clear

Every morning, it’s essential that you put first things, first.

How you start something sets your trajectory.

You need a sacred space where you can go, first thing in the morning to do the activities that will elevate you for the day.

My sacred place is my car, parked in an empty parking lot under a large streetlight between 5–630am.

While you’re in your sacred space, don’t bring low-level distractions into your environment.

Don’t bring your cellphone.

Don’t bring all the cares and worries of the day with you.

Start with a clean slate.

Focus on what you’re doing.

Focus on meditation, prayer, journal writing, and deep learning.

Don’t allow your mind to wander.

If you’ve got a lot going on, you’ll want to wander and fixate on other stuff. Like work.

Allow yourself to be present.

Give yourself the space to learn, to grow, and to get clear.

It’s actually during this morning creation time that you can literally predict your future, with shocking detail.

You can predict and create future events, long into the future.

You can set things in motion.

I’ve watched it happen. I’ve done it many times. For example, a few months ago I decided I’d be speaking at an amazing event happening next month. I didn’t know all of the circumstances and events that would need to occur for me to speak at that event.

But I knew I wanted to do it. Because I wanted to share my new book with everyone who would be at that event. Because I wanted to get my ideas out. Because I wanted to change culture. Because I actually want to help people change. Because I know people can change (see the next section on getting to your DEEPER why).

And I knew that sharing my books with a large group of influential people would be most impactful if I actually spoke at the conference, not just attended.

So, every morning, I would write down the EVENT that would take place (i.e., me speaking at the major conference and giving away copies of my book).

Life occurs in EVENTS and EXPERIENCES, not in thoughts.

So, when you’re mapping your future, map it in tangible events and experiences.

What is going to HAPPEN?

How, then, are you going to make it happen?

You won’t know exactly, only the next step.

So take that step, and create conditions daily to get further clarity.

Why Do You Want THIS? Clarify Your Deepest “WHY”

The purpose of clarifying your WHY is two-fold.

  1. Clarity leads to motivation
  2. Operating from your deepest conviction creates authentic and optimal performance

So how do you get to your why?

It’s really not that hard.

Think about what it is you want, and ask yourself this simple question:

What about ___________ is important to me?

Just answer the first thing that comes to mind.

Don’t over complicate it.

If your goal is to work from home, then ask yourself the question:

What about “working from home” is important to me?

Your answer might be something like, “to have a more flexible schedule.”

You then put THAT into the previous question.

What about “having a more flexible schedule” is important to me?

Feeling less stressed and controlled.

What about “feeling less stressed and controlled” is important to me?

I work better, and am happier, when I can manage myself.

What about “working better, being happy, and managing myself” is important to me?

It’s good to go at least 7-questions deep into this exercise.

If you’re answering really honest with yourself, this exercise will expose two things:

  1. Key events that have shaped you (often from childhood)
  2. Key beliefs/values you hold about the world

If you can get to the core of WHY you’re doing what you’re doing, you can then realize just how important that thing is to you.

Far too often, we only think of our base-level motivations for what we’re doing, which is less personally meaningful. Thus, our performance doesn’t come from our core.

For example, I’m starting this business to have more flexibility in my schedule.

Sure, that’s important. But it’s not THAT INSPIRING. Why do you want more flexibility?

Go deeper.

A lot deeper.

And once you get the crux, then remind yourself, daily, OF THAT REASON, for starting a business.

You’ll feel more clear.

You’ll be more motivated.

You’ll come off as far more honest and authentic.

You’ll be speaking and acting from your heart, not your head.

Your performance will be more emotional, human, and connecting.

It will be more successful, truthful, and powerful.

Examine Your Current Use Of Time

Once you’ve developed strategies for getting clear, and once you’ve honed in on your deepest WHY, it’s key to examine your current use of time.

Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach, is perhaps the most brilliant mind when it comes to coaching entrepreneurs. He’s personally coached over 6,000 entrepreneurs and spent over 50,000 hours doing so.

He’s developed a very simple framework which anyone can use to make far better use of their time.

What I Learned From Dan Sullivan

In the image above, your time is broken up into three categories (A, B, and C).

Category A reflects time spent on activities that irritate you. They suck your energy. Sometimes, these annoyances need to be done. But more often, they should be entirely eliminated.

Category B reflects time spent on activities that are just “okay.” You don’t mind doing them, but they don’t get you excited.

Category C reflects time spent on activities that intellectually stimulate and emotionally motivate you. Dan Sullivan says that, these activities relate to your “unique ability,” and that you should structure your life (and business) such that you are spending most, if not all of your time, in Category C.

Take some time to reflect on your current use of time.

What percentage of your time do you spend in Category A?

Most people spend a large portion of their time in Category A.

They don’t believe they deserve spending their time solely on things they love.

They haven’t connected with their deepest WHY.

They have developed a tolerance for wasting their time. They don’t value themselves, their time, or their ability to contribute enough to change things.

Most likely, they are focused on transaction rather than transformation.

They are “working” for money, not making money to do more and better work.

Ironically, they are focused on greed and not growth. Because growth, although difficult, is always stimulating and motivating. It’s focused both inward and outward, not solely inward. Learning new things and becoming better is a soul-expanding experience. It creates feelings of joy. It opens your world.

Your goal should be to re-orient your life, such that you are spending nearly all of your time in Category C.

The fastest way to get there is ELIMINATE.

Eliminate everything that is a distraction.

Almost everything in life is non-essential.

Remove everything you can.

For the stuff you can’t remove, delegate or automate.

This isn’t something that can be done overnight. If you’re clear and motivated, though, you could do it within 6–12 months.

Start with the next 90 days.

What Category A activities can you eliminate, delegate, or automate?

What Category B activities can you eliminate, delegate, or automate?

How can you spend more time in Category C?

What are your Category C activities?

Why is growing in those areas important to you?


When you heighten your standards for what you can have in your life, you’ll need to make some shifts.

As a psychologist, I’ve learned that by tweaking certain variables, big changes can happen. When you change a part, you change the whole.

What do you need to change in order to become the person you want to be, use your time how you want to, and achieve your goals?

Are you willing to give up your distractions and dependencies?

Are you willing to go through some difficult growth?

You absolutely can get to the point where almost all of your time is spent on those things which matter most.

You can have a deep sense of purpose and WHY.

Your life can be set up so that, daily, you’re expanding your mind and soul.

Daily, you can be increasingly clear on who you are and where you’re going.

You can create conditions where you literally predict FUTURE EVENTS.

Will you?



Benjamin Hardy, PhD
Thrive Global

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