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4 useful ways to find our WHYs

“Get clear on WHAT you want and you’ll be already half-way there.”, right? Though that might be true, there’s a second part of the equation, probably even more important which is getting clear on our WHY. I would even say that we would be better off knowing our WHY but not our WHAT than the other way around.

Knowing our WHYs leave our path open for opportunities and surprises. We can’t know all the possibilities that the Universe has in catalogue for us, so by getting clear on our deep intentions and having faith or trust in the process we are stepping into the world of possibilities to achieve what we want to be, have or do.

Having said that, finding our WHY/s is not an easy task. For some it’s a painful process. In my case it was always much harder to find my WHAT than my WHYs. But since the process where I am at right now (reinventing myself career-wise) requires lots of awareness and humongous amounts of self-honesty and surrender, I wanted to spend all the time that I needed to get clear on why do I want what I want. Funny enough, the Universe makes space for that, giving me plenty of time to do that.

So, how did I discover my WHYs? With a combination of different exercises and tools that I’ve learned from experts in the field and my own trials and errors.
Feel free to use whatever exercise you find appealing to you.

How to find our WHYs

Assessing our current situation

This is the typical advice “in order to get from A to B you need to know where you are at right now.” Like when we want to go to a new place with our car, we first have to type our current location into the GPS so that it can take us where we want to go. Likewise in life. I guess that if you are in the process of finding your WHYs it’s because you are not completely happy now or you want to improve something, become a better ‘fill-in-the-blank’ or achieve whatever goal is in your mind.

In my case, I assessed all the circumstances that I didn’t like in my life, things that have been bothering me, frustrating me or blocking my progress for years and I listed them in one column called “Where I am now”.

Next to that column I placed a second column called “Where I want to be” and listed the things I want to accomplish, pursue, achieve…

So, my first column literally became the first draft of my WHYs, that is, all the things and situations that I don’t want in my life and why is it important or even essential for me to overcome them. So, one possibility to find your why is by asking yourself “What would {achieving/unblocking/removing/improving something} mean for me and my life?”

Our sense of feeling alive

A different question that helped me find my WHYs was “what gives me life?” or similar variations like “what makes me feel strong?” or “what are my priorities in life?” This exercise should provide you with some very deep answers that already fuel your life with strength or joy. And those are potential candidates for your WHYs.

The 7 levels deep exercise

I learned this exercise from Dean Graziosi on Lewis Howes podcast. Dean shared his own story with this exercise and that of one attendant to his conference. In a nutshell, with this exercise (or Innercise as John Assaraf would say) we try to get to the deepest level of truth about our intentions.

When we have a goal or project in mind and we want to fully commit to it we should ask “why do I want this?”, “why do I want to do this?” or “why is that important?”. When you get your answer, you ask again the same question to that new answer, and so forth until you get to 7 levels deep.

According to Graziosi by then we should have come to our true intention or “why”. But I guess this is not a magic number, since when I did this exercise I needed 10 levels deep to get my true why.

Well, actually what I realized is that there are several levels of intentions and all may be important, at least to have them in mind when you are confronting the different “problems” that pop up in our way to success (whatever that word might mean to you).

It usually works like this: the first answers usually are more superficial or material but as we go deeper the answers get emotional. Graziosi says that when people reach level 7 often have tears on their eyes.

The brutally honest approach

This one is an extra step to help us digg into why we don’t achieve what we want. It’s kind of counterintuitive. If we have a goal, maybe one that we have already pursued in the past we could ask ourselves “Why do I believe I haven’t achieve it yet?”

The magic behind this question is that we usually know deep inside what needs to be done, even though we don’t act on it. Time to get brutally honest with ourselves!

This one was huge for me. It completely opened my mind and made me realize some truths about myself that I had been hiding to myself (funny, eh?).

There’s a variation of this exercise where you ask yourself “why do I believe I will not achieve my goal?” which triggers all the fears blocking our progress and write the answers on a column. Then on a second column to the right you answer the question “why do I believe I will achieve my goal?” where you write all the actions you’re going to take, your strengths, talents…


Those are the four exercises or questions I’ve used to get clear on my WHYs. I hope they are useful to you in case you need help finding your WHY. And there’s no need to do them all. Just do whatever you think can help you the most.

But remember, our whys act as motivators, and motivation not always works. So in pursuit of our goals we will need to act even though we don’t feel like it. To help with that we have the simple 5 Second Rule.

Case study:

I’ve had the idea of this blog for a long time but fears and lack of time (well yeah, basically fears) made me procrastinate until recently.

Since my newly found over-arching goal in life is to grow as a person to be who I need to be to live the life that I want, the WHYs for this blog project became very clear and aligned with my main goal:

Why is this blog important? Why should I start this blog? Since I love reading, learning, sharing and helping, this blog will help me do all that and at the same time help me grow as a person, keeping me accountable in front of others who might read what I have to share, what I have learned and applied in my life.

Besides this main WHY, I have other WHYs that will help me keep motivated, just in case the main intention is not enough or vague at times. For instance, I would also love to get to know inspiring people, so the blog will hopefully help me connect with some of the people who inspire me and meet them at conferences, retreats or just via skype, email or phone.

My third and forth intentions have to do with skills. Since I want to improve my English and my writing skills, this blog is perfect for those purposes.

These are my WHYs for this project. Obviously other areas of our lives need their own WHYs (parenting, health and fitness, relationships, financial, career…), so we can use a variation of the questions above according to the category of life that we want to find our why for.

Feel free to share your goals and WHYs on the comments section below if that helps you be accountable, or if you are having difficulties finding your true intentions concerning something important in your life.

Published in Lifework Mindset Personal emotional growth


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