7 Levels of Why

Earlier in the month I did something a little crazy.

I signed up for a 70.3 Ironman (or a half Ironman). For those keeping score at home, that's a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run.

It sounds a little crazy considering my crowning accomplishment thus far in the sport is a 0.3 mile swim, 12 mile bike, and a 3.7 mile run. 

Although the decision wasn't totally spontaneous, it wasn't something I've been dreaming of accomplishing. In fact, after my first sprint triathlon I started telling people I was going to retire.

So naturally, AFTER I signed up I started questioning WHY I did it. 

There's an exercise that I think is incredibly helpful called "7 Levels Deep". I like to call it the 7 Levels of Why, and since this is my blog, that's what we're going with here.

It helps you get to your true WHY. That's the WHY you'll come back to when the going gets tough so it's really important for virtually anything you do. Sometimes the end result may even change your method once you realize there may be a better way to accomplish your WHY.

Below is my example for 70.3 Oceanside. It takes some time to do this well because you have to stop yourself from filtering your responses. {And then I had to stop myself from filtering from the world wide web.}

  1. Why am I doing Oceanside 70.3?
    • Because I like training like an athlete
  2. Why do I like training like an athlete?
    • Because it forces me to worry about performance, not aesthetics
  3. Why do I want to focus on performance and not aesthetics?
    • Because it forces me to treat myself better (how I eat, sleep, train, recover, etc) and puts me in a group of athletes
  4. Why do I want to treat my body better and be around athletes?
    • Because I want to prove that you be an endurance athlete and be truly healthy and athletes are always trying to improve and better themselves
  5. Why do I want to prove that?
    • Because I've been scared of endurance racing/training since I got hurt training for a marathon but I loved that time in my life with the weekly camaraderie of training
  6. Why am I doing something that scares me?
    • Because not doing something out of fear is the worst reason. I want to overcome that fear by sticking to a methodology that I believe will work and not get sucked into overtraining. I want to push myself but not wreck my health (again). I also would love to teach other people how to do the same some day.  
  7. Why do I love the camaraderie of training?
    • It's the kind of people I like spending time with. I love the feeling of hard workouts and being outside and then talking training and racing with other athletes.

When I got to the end I used the last two questions to answer my two answers in #5. It's not about perfectly following the process, but about pushing to the depth of your reasoning. It turns out that my WHY is not actually about getting a medal, but about the process and experience of getting to the finish line.

My WHY is: To prove out a training theory so I can continue racing and training with other athletes and so I can help other people who want to do the same. 

Looking like a big 'ol nervous dork before an open water ocean swim

Looking like a big 'ol nervous dork before an open water ocean swim

Are you grappling with something you want but can't seem to get over the hump of really going after it? Try this exercise and you might surprise yourself with your true why. 


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