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AGL 087: Giving Your First Talk with Justin James
January 18, 2019

AGL 088: The 5th Why

the fifth why

Being that it is late January 2019 now, I’m sure most of you have already made and broken at least one new years resolution. There’s nothing wrong with that… we all do it.  But let’s focus on why you created that resolution in the first place.  Some common resolutions are to eat healthier, get in shape, be nicer, work harder, stop drinking so much, stop eating fast food, etc.  If you picked one of those, or something totally different, ask yourself why it is important for you to stop or start those things?   We’ll dig more into the why in a minute…Ever wonder why we do resolutions and goals at the beginning of the year?  There is a good book about timing that digs into this by Dan Pink, called When.  It talks a lot about the best time of the day, week, month, or year to start or do certain things.  Its super fascinating, but basically our brains like new beginnings.  That can be a birthday, or the start of a week, or what better time, than the start of a new year.  We tend to have an easier time starting something during one of these new beginning times. But that doesn’t necessarily equate to keeping it up.  Habits and motivations are important for that (check out the episodes with John Hitler on The Motivation Trap and Jeff Haden on The Motivation Myth to learn more about motivation).

For me, when I start something and begin to struggle seeing it through to completion, I begin to feel discouraged.  I’ve found that it is helpful to ask “why am I doing this anyway?” So let’s take the get in shape scenario as an example.  Why do I want to get in shape? To be healthier… to look better at the pool… but why do I want to be healthier?  Why do I want to look better at the pool?  If I keep going down this rabbit hole of ask why using something called the five why protocol, I will likely find that the end game is to be happier. When I change my focus away from the task of working out, and point it at the correct goal of happiness, I find its easier to stay on task and accomplish my goals.


The Five Why Protocol

Wikipedia has a really good breakdown of the history and rules for the five why protocol so I’ll link to that instead of boring you with all of the details. But the basics are, ask Why, from the customer point of view, at least 5 times to find the true root cause of the problem you’re trying to solve.  I’ll read the rules on the podcast, but you can go find them at Wikipedia.


S.M.A.R.T. Goals

I’ve spoken about, used, and stood by SMART goals for many years.  SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound goals.  When you’re setting your goals, you need to make sure you check all of the boxes for these in order to make the goal useful.

An example of one of my SMART goals for 2019 is: To increase 1st quarter podcast downloads by 10% over the 4th quarter 2018 download numbers. Let’s break it down:

Specific – Increase Podcast Downloads

Measurable -By 10% over the 4th quarter 2018 download numbers

Achievable – a 10% increase is doable with more marketing and/or more episodes

Relevant – increasing downloads is a direct metric that relates to an increase in good content and more listeners to the show

Time-bound – 1st quarter downloads means that it has to be achieved by end of the 1st quarter in 2019.


I hope this information is helpful for you in 2019 and beyond.  I hope it helps you start back your failed new years resolutions or helps you keep them going.  Or maybe it helps you redefine better goals for the rest of the year. If so, please leave me a message on LinkedIn, on Twitter, through the website or in an ITunes Review. Thanks so much and have a great 2019!