What Is Your “Why?”

We’ve been talking about the idea of reinvention (see my posts here and here to catch up) and how sometimes finding the right job is about viewing our gifts and passions from a different angle. Many times, this journey of discovery opens up new options and opportunities that weren’t on our radar before.

The question is—where do you begin? How do you even start a journey of rediscovery and reinvention?

And for that, I’d like to recommend an author to you: Simon Sinek. His books Start with Why and Find Your Why have been world-changing, not just for me personally, but also for pretty much everyone to whom I’ve recommended them. I find that most of my career coaching clients are on some journey of self-discovery (or rediscovery), and Sinek puts things in a way that really makes these high-minded concepts very accessible. I won’t summarize these books here—you’ll just have to get them and read them—but let’s just talk for a minute about what we mean by “finding your why” and why it’s so important.

We All Have a “Why”

When we talk about starting with “why,” we’re really talking about motivation. What gets us up in the morning? What motivates us to do what we do? What is the one thing we’re more passionate about than anything else?

Surprisingly (or perhaps not surprisingly), most people don’t actually know the answer to these questions. They are so busy doing things that they have perhaps never stopped to consider why they do them. And yet, we all have a why—a primary motivation—and for that reason alone, “why” is one of the most important questions we should be asking. (Why do you suppose the number one question in the mouths of 2- and 3-year old kids is “Why?”)

Motivation is everything. The why is everything.

When we figure out what truly makes us tick, it changes our priorities. As a result, it often causes us to change what we do and how we do it.

In the context of Sinek, he’s talking mainly about businesses and careers (which is another reason I like him for my clients). The idea is that when we know our why and we choose a career path or a business based on that why, we are happier, more productive, and more fulfilled in life.

“Why” Is a Key to Reinventing

When I ask my clients to go through the process of discovering their why, usually one of two things happen:

  1. They realize that their why has already affected their previous career choices, and that’s why they chose that career…and they start to look for other ways to express that why; OR
  2. They realize they haven’t been following their why, and that’s why they were unhappy in their job…and they start exploring new career options that are a better fit for their why.

In either case, if you’re one of the millions of people in the “Great Resignation” who are vacating their previous jobs and looking for ways to reinvent…finding your why is the key to your next chapter.

Finding your why means going back to basics, peeling back the layers to find out what your true passion is. Doing this provides context to the choices you’ve made in the past as well as serving as a guide to what you will do in the future. When you know your why, it can also give you a broader perspective in exploring what to do next with your life, opening up possible career paths that you hadn’t even thought of before. Knowing your why helps you choose a path that will help you be happier and more fulfilled. Simply put, passion leads to purpose.

When I transitioned out of working in HR into becoming a career coach, this is basically what I did. When I knew my job wasn’t going to last, I began soul searching, looking at what I loved about my job and why I loved it. I also looked at my skill sets and what I was good at. Then I started imagining other situations where I could apply those skills and those passions. The word coach started coming up constantly. It led me to where I am today—and it couldn’t have been a better choice for my life.

Fair warning: digging for your why isn’t as easy as it sounds. Mainly it’s because we humans aren’t always honest with ourselves, at least at first. It can be helpful to have someone alongside you as you take that journey of discovery—and that’s a key part of what I do as a career coach. If you’d like some extra help figuring out your why, email me at terrylynn@giraffesconsulting.com, and let’s set up a free 30-minute consultation.