If you want to know how to find your why, you’ve come to the right place!
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed that I’m slightly obsessed with all things Peloton. I do a 45-minute ride every morning and focus on my core and upper body every afternoon, but it’s more than an app and piece of exercise equipment for me. It’s connected me to a supportive and inspiring community, and the instructors light a fire under my ass to reach for more every single day.
One of my favorite instructors is Emma Lovewell. She’s a no-nonsense gal with abs made of steel and the best taste in music ever, and every time I ride with her, she says 3 things that ground me:
‘You’ve gotta know why.’
‘You’ve gotta use your whole heart.’
‘You did not wake up just to give up!’
I’ve grown accustomed to her saying these things and they started to go in one ear and out the other, but lately they’ve really made me stop and think. We’re 6 weeks into the 2020 pandemic as I write this, and with a lot of worry on our shoulders and so much uncertainty over the future, many of the things that used to fuel our souls have changed. The goals we once set for ourselves no longer hold the same meaning, and many of us (myself included) feel little to no control over their lives right now. Some have lost jobs and businesses and vacillate between fear and boredom all day long, while others are furiously trying to figure out how to hang onto the career they’ve worked so hard to build while simultaneously homeschooling their children.
No matter what stage of life you’re in – and what cards you’ve been dealt with – this post offers practical tips and ideas to help you find your why, allowing you to live your life with greater purpose and with a passion and dedication to do things that set your soul on fire.
WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW YOUR WHY
IT GIVES YOU PURPOSE
Rather than just going through the motions, knowing your why gives you a reason to get out of bed each morning. It gives you clarity on what you want out of life – and what you need to do to get there – allowing you to set meaningful goals and crush them like a boss. When you have a clearly defined sense of purpose, it boosts your self-confidence and allows you to pursue your dreams unapologetically.
IF FOSTERS PASSION AND DEDICATION
When you’re focused on something that sets your soul on fire, your commitment to your goals and dreams becomes unwavering. Instead of being intimidated by things that are challenging, you find the will to roll up your sleeves and get it done. You have the energy to reach for more, and you won’t settle until you crush your goals, regardless of the obstacles that are thrown your way.
IT MAKES YOU HYPER-FOCUSED
When you find your why, your goals become much more refined and you gain greater perspective. It becomes much easier to see what is and isn’t important, and you become less tempted by distractions.
IT MAKES YOU HAPPIER
Having a clearly defined sense of purpose adds depth and dimension to your life. It makes you feel more fulfilled, and allows you to handle setbacks and adversity in a healthier way.
FINDING YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE
If you’ve spent time researching ‘how to find your why’, you’ve probably heard of the term ikigai. It’s a Japanese word that means, ‘reason for being’, and it’s essentially your life’s purpose – the reason you get out of bed each morning. If you’re a visual person, it’s the space in which the follow 4 core elements of your life overlap:
- WHAT YOU LOVE (your passion)
- WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS (your mission)
- WHAT YOU ARE GOOD AT (your vocation)
- WHAT YOU CAN GET PAID FOR (your profession)
In the book, Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, authors Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles dive into the concept of ikigai in much greater detail. It’s an interesting read and something I recommend to anyone who wants to find their why, but for those who are looking for quick tips, here is a list of 10 rules the authors share to help everyone find their ikigai:
- Stay active; don’t retire
- Take it slow
- Don’t fill your stomach
- Surround yourself with good friends
- Get in shape for your next birthday
- Reconnect with nature
- Give thanks
- Live in the moment
- Follow your ikigai
Buy your copy of Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life here.
HOW TO FIND YOUR WHY
While I wish there was a simple way to find your why, the reality is that this is something that you really need to think through and ruminate over. Your purpose will change many times over the course of your life, which can be both exciting and frustrating. Sometimes you will know exactly what sets your soul on fire, but other times you will find yourself scrambling to find purpose and meaning. Regardless of where you find yourself on that continuum right now, my best advice for you is to slow down and ruminate.
There are many different tips and techniques you can use to find your why, most of which require you to ask yourself a series of questions. Using the core elements from ikigai, I find it helpful to break those questions down into relevant chunks. This adds a bit of structure to the process, enabling you to see common patterns and themes across the different elements.
If you’re trying to find your why, here are 19 questions to ask yourself, broken down into the 4 overarching elements of ikigai:
HOW TO FIND YOUR PASSION
- What do you love to do?
- What are you good at?
- What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
- If you had a day completely to yourself, how would you spend it?
- What activities make you lose track of time?
HOW TO FIND YOUR MISSION
- When people come to you for help, what do they need from you?
- Who inspires you, and why?
- What keeps you up at night?
- What are your biggest pain points?
- What legacy do you want to leave behind?
HOW TO FIND YOUR VOCATION
- What did you dream about when you were a child?
- What unique strengths and skills do you possess?
- What things do others ask you for help with?
- What comes easily to you?
HOW TO FIND YOUR PROFESSION
- What do you like about your current career? What do you dislike?
- Which parts of your job do you do well?
- Which parts of your job do you find meaningful?
- If you could swap jobs with a friend, which one would you choose and why?
- If you were financially secure and didn’t have to work, how would you spend your time?
Take your time to answer these questions. The idea is to find something you are both good at and passionate about, and to turn it into a paid profession that benefits others, which is no small feat. Dig deep, don’t censor your thoughts and feelings, and be brutally honest with yourself as you go through this exercise. Feel free to split these questions up over days and weeks, and look for consistencies along the way.
If you’re trying to find your why, remember that this isn’t supposed to be easy. It will require a lot of intentional thought and action to figure out what your THING is, but once you find it, the sky really is the limit. Try not to get overwhelmed and frustrated and trust that you will find your why. It may not come to you today, tomorrow, next week, or next month, but you will eventually have what Oprah so eloquently refers to as an ‘a-ha moment’. And the rest, as they say, will be history.
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