But Why? Understanding This Easy, But Oh So Difficult Question!
February 23, 2022 - Shauna Jurczak

“What’s your why?”

Raise your hand if you’ve heard that one before. You embark on something new, or you’re working towards a life change, and people want to know why you’re doing it. You read books and articles that tell you if you know your why, you’ll be more successful. So, there you sit, awake at night trying to nail down your why statement.

In theory, determining why sounds simple. We all do things for a reason. It should be easy to explain. After all, why? is one of the more popular asked and answered questions with children under 8 years of age. Yet, when facing change or embarking on something new, this simple, child-like question of why, can be the most challenging!

Why is that, and how can you maneuver your way through it?

Your Why Helps You Clearly Lay Out Your Path.

No pressure, right? Except there is pressure. Imagine you’re choosing to switch careers. You know it’s the right choice for you, but when people ask you why you’re doing it, you’re not sure how to explain it. You’re left questioning yourself, your choices, and whether you’ll succeed. That is a lot of pressure!

It’s true - knowing your why can help you to clearly lay out your plan, your path, and your steps to success. It will help you understand yourself on the good and bad days, the exhausted days, the self-doubt day, and the days full of wins.

A clear why is your motivation, your purpose, and your reason to succeed all rolled into one. That is not something to take lightly. It is not something you should rush. Your why is personal and meaningful and one of the most important tools in your success tool kit. That is why explaining your why can be so difficult.

Now, let’s unpack it.

Your Why is Personal.

No why is the same for anyone, nor should it be. Looking at the career change example:

Jen, a mom of three, works shift work in a hospital. Night shifts mean she misses both bedtime and breakfast with her little ones on a regular basis. She loves caring for people but wants a steadier schedule so she can be home with her kids more, to provide them with a better balanced routine and to create lasting memories with her family.

Lori, a single 30-year-old, also works shift work at the hospital and loves caring for people. Unfortunately, she has been noticing the toll shift work has been taking on her health. Night shifts confuse her sleep and meal schedules and have been making it difficult to get to the gym. She wants to make a change so she can start prioritizing her health and ensure she lives a long and happy (and healthy) life.

Both women have different whys. Neither is more or less valid. In the end, both want to make change to improve their lives.

What is important here is recognizing your reason for doing things and how those reasons keep you going on a regular basis. For Jen, embarking on career or job change means more time with her kids. For Lori, it’s about long-term health. Both are unique to each woman, and both are excellent reasons why.

Regardless of your why, it should be something you can firmly stand behind. Something that means more to you that any self-doubt or failure – after all, a good why often prevents failure. It keeps you going, making sure you don’t give up. After all, the only thing worse than failing is missing out on your why!

Your Why Often Lives in Emotion.

It may sound fine and dandy up to here, but what if your why isn’t a clear? Discovering and understanding your why often lives in emotion, your feelings and wants. If you can work through the emotions, you can easily iron out your why.

Let’s stick with changing careers as an example: You have a job you like, but you know it’s time for a change. Your gut feeling keeps telling you so, but beyond that, you’re not sure what to do or why you're even considering doing it. Here are a few valuable, emotion-based questions you can ask yourself to help form your why, and in the end create your plan for change (and success).

Grab a pen and paper, or open a new Word doc or notes app, and write out the answers to the questions below.
*Remember you can take out the word “job” and replace it with whatever fits your current situation.

  • What about my current job leaves me feeling proud or accomplished?

  • What about my current job leaves me feeling frustrated?

  • What about my current job leaves me feeling satisfied?

  • What about my current job leaves me feeling dissatisfied?

  • What about my current job leaves me feeling valued?

  • What about my current job leaves me undervalued?

  • How do I want my new job to make me feel?

  • Why do those feelings matter to me?

  • What opportunities do I hope my new job brings me?

  • Why do those opportunities matter and how do they leave me feeling?

  • What does a fulfilling career look like to me? How does it leave me feeling? What does it have me doing?

  • If I fail, feel frustrated, or find myself overcome with self-doubt in the process of changing jobs, what will pick me back up and keep me going?

Your Why Doesn’t Need to Wow Anyone...Except You

Looking at the answers to the questions above, do you notice any trends? Maybe you notice a repeating pattern of similar values or wants? Those will help you form your why. Perhaps you see a trend that highlights your need for a job that allows you to work from home, or one that give you more flexibility to accommodate your children’s schedule. Maybe you noticed a trend in wanting a job that leaves you feeling excited, or helpful, or needed. Maybe you’re looking to grow and want more training and opportunities to do so.

I know none of that sounds life-changing. In fact, you might be thinking, “But, Shauna, my why…when I tell people about it, there should be a wow factor”. Except it doesn’t need to pack a punch at all. It just needs to validate you, your needs, your wants and your vision. It needs to hold meaning for you, and if it does, when you explain it to people (which shouldn’t matter, but that is a post for a different day) they will hear your passion, your pride, your vision, and in turn, it will wow them.

Your Why Is Like a Strong and Powerful Suit of Armor

Change, of any sort is scary. It’s natural to feel comfortable with the status quo. In turn, we often tend to fear the unknown and worry about the negative impacts of change. No one wants to run blindly into battle without some sort of protection. The same goes for any changes or improvements we want to make in life.

It can be scary, but it’s ok to have a bit of fear. There is nothing wrong with it. But a good why is like a suit of armor, protecting you and making you feel safe in battle. With a good why you become braver and stronger than any failure, change, judgement, or worry.

Own Your Why

Take time to think about your why. Write it down. Stick it somewhere you can see it every day, and read it every day. Value your why, and go get it!

Looking for help with your why? Let’s chat! I’d love to help you find your why and create a plan to move forward to create the life you dream of.