3 Questions to Ask Yourself to Tap Into Your “Why”
Something I’ve learned over the years is that finding your “why” is more a process than a destination.
Because I love personal development books and content, the concept of knowing your “why” or your purpose comes up pretty often. This was originally popularized by Simon Sinek’s inspiring TED Talk on how leadership can spark action and has expanded into conversations about personal development and health. Some of my favorite content on the topic include Mark Manson’s “7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose” and how Sadia Badiei of Pick Up Limes consistently ties in “why-power” into her health and lifestyle videos.
I’ll be honest, I’m still fleshing out my purpose and my “why.”
No matter what stage of life we’re in, I think we’re all still figuring it out. I have owned the Passion Planner for three years, and each year brought different visions for my life. In 2018, my lifetime goal was to become a university career counselor. This year, it is to write a book. As my ambitions and passions have transformed, my purpose has also transformed.
I believe your purpose is as fluid as you are.
In this article, I’ll share three questions that I’ve asked myself to tap into my “why.”
What are my values?
Defining your values can be much easier than defining your purpose. In my bedroom, I have a framed poster with the four values that I want to embody for the year: passion, authenticity, creativity, and empowerment. When my “why” isn’t clear, and I’m about to make an important decision, I ask myself, “Does this align with my values?”
Even though I’m still figuring things out, this question always steers me in the right direction. When identifying your values, you can either go with whatever comes to your mind, or go through a values exercise to narrow down what resonates the most with you.
Who and what inspires me?
It can be so difficult to look inward sometimes. Whenever I journal or go through my monthly reflection in my planner, I’m surprised I can even get my thoughts on paper. My ideas are chaotic, constantly buzzing around on the inside. How can I find my “why” underneath all that?
During times like these, it helps to go external. I ask myself, “Who and what has been inspiring me lately?” The things that continue to inspire me are messages of empowerment that encourage others, including Emma Watson’s address to the United Nations and this New York Times opinion piece by Loretta Ross on how to practice compassionate social justice amidst a cancel culture. In my personal life, it is friends who are having hard conversations in gentle ways and people who know how to laugh and don’t take life too seriously.
By acknowledging what inspires and moves us, we’re actually revealing the type of person we want to become, leading us even closer to our “why.”
What is my focus today?
“What is your purpose in life?” is a loaded question, and a tall order for anybody. When I graduated from my Master’s program, I was rejected from 14 positions across 5 different higher education institutions, 3 of which I had worked for before. With each rejection that came, I asked myself, “What is all of this even for?”
When we’re in survival mode, we’re not worried about a higher calling. We’re concerned that we are able to feed and provide for our family or that we find a job that pays well with full benefits. If that is your “why” at this moment, honor that, without judgment. It is hard to be in the struggle, but having a reason to persevere will not only help in moving past it but in forming your “why” later on.
If you’re still finding purpose, you are not alone. The Passion Planner team and #PashFam community is there every step of the way, no matter your “why.”
Paula Votendahl is a Content Marketing Specialist with Passion Planner. Her current "why" is her family and becoming her most authentic self.