The Four-Letter Word You Need to Know and Use!

December 19, 2017

I am no stranger to dropping the occasional four-letter word.

Apologies for that.

This post, though, is not about the particular thrill and exclamation point of a well-timed F-bomb.

It’s about a different four-letter word. One that’s not a word at all. It’s an acronym.


Sort of like WTF, but not really…

WIFM is not a dirty word.

WIFM is a question and so deserves a question mark.

More properly presented, it looks like this:

question mark The Four-Letter Word You Need to Know and Use!


WIFM = What’s in it for Me?

As you go about the plethora of things you do on a daily basis, have you ever wondered why you’re doing what you’re doing? What’s the aim or goal? What’s in it for you?

Or, if you’re asking yourself… “What’s in it For Me?” (Meaning YOU… What’s in it For You?)

That’s WIFM.

We do things because we have to. Because we’re supposed to. Because we’re expected to. Or need to. Maybe because we’re paid to. Or asked to. Or made to feel guilty to. Any number of reasons.

Sometimes we simply want to. Those are the best of things – the things we do simply because we WANT to do them, not because we have to do them or feel we have no other choice.

But when you DON’T want to but have to do these things over and over again, you might find yourself asking, WIFM?

What’s in it for you?

Joy? Productivity? Pride?

A sense of accomplishment? A sense of giving or belonging?

Sometimes the returns aren’t so obvious. Perhaps they involve the appreciation and gratitude of others. A hug from a child, a shoulder massage from a spouse. Camaraderie, a return favor. A paycheck, if we’re talking about paid work or a professional reference or free feminine care products you can swipe from the employee bathroom, not that I’ve ever done that, of course…

Hopefully there’s something in it for you.

I’m well aware that in any number of circumstances it would be uncomfortable or downright inappropriate to ask WIFM:

Boss to Administrative Assistant: “Please make 10 copies of the report for the meeting.”

Administrative Assistant:  “What’s in it for me?”

That’s not going to work. Neither does this:

Kid to Mom: “Can you pick me up after school today and take me to the library?”

Mom: “What’s in it for me?”


In those cases, WIFM may elicit a WTF?

So, I suggest that WIFM be a silent question, the kind you ask yourself at regular intervals. WIFM allows you to look back at what you’ve done, a rearview mirror glance of what you’ve accomplished, and look ahead to see where you’re going, eyes set on a desired future destination.

woman in purple cardigan using binoculars 1720080 The Four-Letter Word You Need to Know and Use!

Keep your eye future-focused…

WIFM allows you to align your needs and wants with your skills and abilities and take on roles and responsibilities that nurture and grow you.

WIFM might mean your To-Do list starts with your “To-Don’t” list.

Or that your “Should Do” list becomes only your “Could Do” list.

WIFM allows you to prioritize your busy schedule with what matters most.

Do you really need to volunteer for that PTO bake sale? Do you really need to always been the one to raise your hand to take notes at the meeting?

Do you WANT to do those things or feel you HAVE to?

What’s in it for you?

You’re allowed to ask the question. Your time matters. How you spend it should matter to you.

Align your WIFM with what matters most to you. You belong atop your own list.

Use “WIFM?” to help you figure out What’s in it for YOU?

What’s in it for me, you ask?  (As in me, the writer)… Thank you for asking. I got a great deal of satisfaction from crafting this article. My next chapter is about helping clients create their own great, next chapters.

That’s what’s in it for me.

But more importantly, What’s in it for You? WIFY?

home img 03 The Four-Letter Word You Need to Know and Use!Valerie Gordon is the founder and owner of Commander-in-She, a career and communication strategy firm that helps clients use the principles of storytelling to build stronger teams, grow future leaders and create career success and satisfaction. See our services in action.

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