8 ways to discover your ‘why’


Let your passions and values signpost your sense of purpose, and be the catalyst for lasting change. Heidi Scrimgeour explores…

Have you ever tried to adopt a new habit by force of will, only to feel like a failure when you later accept that you haven’t followed through? It’s an all-too-familiar pattern to me, and one that often follows a declaration of intention to create change in our lives. It’s why costly gym memberships often go unused, and why so many New Year’s resolutions fade before January is even over. But a process commonly called ‘finding your why’ can reportedly help to turn resolutions into habits, and turn habits into life transformation.

‘Your why is basically the reason you do what you do – why you get up in the morning, why you work to earn money, why you keep trying when things look hopeless,’ explains psychologist Nova Cobban. ‘Your why is your internal motivation, and it is tied to your values and your identity.’

With any goal, keep asking the question ‘why’ until you can go no further, advises Georgie Shears. ‘This technique can help break through surface-level motivations and get right to the heart of why you really want to achieve that goal’

Here are eight ways to discover exactly what it is that fuels you.

1. Notice what you’re naturally good at

Everyone has something they seem to be great at without even trying. Recognising these things is a great guide to what you easily flow with. Not only will this give you a lovely confidence boost, but it will also guide you in a direction that could lead to really fulfilling work and a meaningful life.

2. Get Outside

Go for walks, runs, dog walks or bike rides. Moving our bodies in the calm and quiet can be surprisingly revealing. Being out in nature helps you to shift stale, stagnant energy and shed daily stressors, helping you to reconnect with your inner self and making it much easier to tap into your why.

3. Recall times of joy

Think back to some of your most joyful memories. What were you doing? Why was it so joyful? These are the activities and experiences that obviously resonate with your inner self, and they can really help point you toward your why.

4. Visualise success

Imagine a future where you feel successful and content. What are you doing? Who are you with? What impact are you making? These visions are an incredibly reliable guide to your deeper goals and aspirations.

5. Define your values

Get clear on what’s most important to you in life. Whether it’s honesty, creativity, or connection, understanding your values is a big step in aligning your life with your personal truth, anchoring to your why.

6. Consider your legacy

Think about the mark you want to leave on the world. How do you want to be remembered? This will provide a clear view of what truly matters to you.

7. Ask big questions

Take the time for some honest soul-searching. What would you do if you weren’t afraid of the ‘what ifs’? What would you do if money, time, or any other resources were no obstacle? 

8. Reflect on pivotal life moments

Really look into any pivotal points in your life. What choices did you make, and why? Understanding your past decisions during times of change can be really informative.

Read more: How to find meaning in life

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