One of my 2020 goals is to ask why more often. It is loosely related to the Start with Why book. I think that many of the things I have accomplished in the past years lacked a mindful inspection at why I was doing them.
A personal example
Asking why helps to identify the true drivers behind decisions and tasks. Maintaining Python for the Lab is incredibly energy and time consuming. But it also allowed me to reach the point of publishing a printed book. However, when I started the project it was a side project meant to complement the workshops I was organizing.
Now I know that the joy I find in maintaining Python for the Lab stems from two factors: My personal image, and the teaching opportunities. Thanks to the website I have been identified as "the Python guy", which puts me in a position in which I want to be. Secondly, I find joy at thinking how to explain things in a useful way for like-minded people (mostly other scientists struggling in their labs).
Dropping projects with unclear why's
Another outcome of asking why is realizing that some projects are not meant to come to fruition. I started Privalytics.io because I wanted to have a Saas-like business on the side. But this why is not motivating enough. I built the technology, the business plan. But I lacked the motivation to make it grow. It is still there, the logins are closed, and it has few users.
If I would have asked why earlier, I would have saved some time of development and I could have focused my energies onto something else. Now I see it as a learning opportunity both on how to build, release, and market a saas-product, and how to find intrinsic motivation on the things I want to do.