Why now?

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What makes you or me (or anyone) take action? There’s a need, and then there’s a reason that the need surfaced now. In other words, there’s a “why” and a “why now”.

Not too long ago, I started a Data Science program at Rockhurst University. When someone asked me “why?” I told them the true answer; it is a topic that interests me and I want to learn more. The “why now?” aspect was not as obvious, since I didn’t have a career need for those classes.

The truth was, my GI bill was coming up on it’s expiration date, and if I didn’t start soon, that available tuition help would go to waste. Plus, I had a couple of friends who started the program and I realized that this was a good time to pursue that interest. And I find advanced college courses seem easier (at least for me) when I can share the experience with smart people.

When I meet new people in our Toastmasters program, I usually ask two questions. “What brings you to Toastmasters?” and “How did you find us?” – That second question is just to understand how our website is (or is not) working.

What I forget to ask is “Why now?”

Why now can tell you some important things to help you understand motivation. For instance a person looking for job interview tips after a recent layoff has a different imperative than someone asking in case they decide to look for work in the future.

  1. This is important
  2. I’m ready to learn
  3. I’m ready to work
  4. I’ll stick with it
  5. I want to take part in my own success

Imagine each of those items on a scale from 1-10. With a 1 being a person who is mildly interested, and a 10 being someone very committed.

Asking this question (and sometimes you have to ask it 2 or 3 times) can help you determine how serious your prospect is, and whether or not they’ve made the right choice.

Someone without a real “why now?” may not be serious, and could end up wasting your time.

Next time someone approaches you and you find yourself asking “why?” don’t forget to take the next step and ask “why now?”

One comment
  1. Very important to take that next step and ask “why now”. Thanks for bringing attention to this important question. It can not only help you understand someone’s motivation, it might also help them realize the value and importance of making the commitment and making it now.

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