How To Discover Your ‘Why’ When Setting Goals

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You’ve set a goal and you want to make sure you’re set up for success. The best way to do this is to find your ‘why’.

Might as well give it a shot. After all, who wants to fail, right?

If you don’t figure out your ‘why’, you may do good things like write down your goals and make a list of action steps and maybe even create a checklist or to-do list. You try to plan for all the challenges and obstacles that might get in your way. You’re pretty much set up for inevitable success, right?

You’ve planned out all of your actions steps after all but …

Before you embark on this road trip, it helps to discover why you’re going on this trip in the first place. 

Because we all know that road trips hardly ever go as planned… 

(I’m talking about your goals here just in case my analogy is going on for too long). 

Your Why

Oftentimes, you really need to dig down deep to discover your why. Sometimes, when you answer the question, “Why do I want to do this?” your answer may likely come from a superficial answer until you keep drilling down to find the deepest emotional reason—

the real ‘why’.

Why even make this goal? How will your life change once you get to the destination? 

Making a goal is easy. Following through is a whole another game. Having a why can help you stay motivated and committed when times get tough.

Because there will be times that challenge you. When you’ll question why you even decided to go after this thing. 

This is why finding your ‘why’ is important. 

Your Why Helps With Commitment and Motivation

Knowing your deepest reason, your why, for wanting that goal becomes your touchstone to keep coming back to in order to keep moving forward. It also helps to know your reason (i.e your why) to create motivation from within—not from external forces that are telling you that you should do something.

Don’t skip this step to uncover your deep-down reason, your why, for setting any goal for yourself.

Setting yourself up for inevitable success should begin with a clear understanding of the deepest reason why you want to be successful with that goal. 

When the going gets tough later on, ground yourself with your why and you’ll find the strength and motivation to keep moving forward.

Now, let’s break this down into two ‘whys’. 

Your Logical Why and Your Emotional Why

There are usually two reasons for doing any goal: a logical reason and an emotional one. 

The logical reason helps your rational mind understand why you are doing something, but the emotional reason is what helps you stay motivated enough to keep going when things aren’t so easy. 

Generally, people will have a dominant reason—one that they’re more focused on than the other. (Hint: it is typically the emotional reason)

The Logical Why

The logical reason is the one that most people go by when explaining your why because let’s face it, it makes sense. If you are trying to eat healthier or save more money, there is a very good reason why you should be doing these things. 

No one is going to question it. 

Examples of Logical whys are:

I want to eat healthier so that I can have more energy and avoid health problems 

I want to make more money so that I can enjoy myself and purchase the things I like.

The logical why is going to put your mind at ease. This why is going to help you feel comfortable (or as comfortable as possible) going after the thing. 

The Emotional Why

Deep down, we all have a part of us that’s more emotional than logical. 

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not practical or reasonable. It just means that there is usually a personal value at stake.

Something about the goal really speaks to you on an emotional level. 

In fact, we usually attach more meaning to something that’s more emotionally driven than logically based. Think of these as core values as opposed to logical reasons. What drives you? What values make you, you?

Usually, when you do something out of love or care for another person, it’s an emotional reason.

Your emotional why is going to be the thing that motivates you to keep going when things get hard. It’s because the emotional why is tied to your core values and beliefs. 

Tying it together

Now, let’s say your goal is to make more money in your business or job.

If you’re like most people, what really drives you isn’t the logical reason of needing more income to pay for necessities and luxuries—it’s the emotional one of wanting a better lifestyle than what your current income can provide you. It could also be to travel more or spend more time with loved ones. 

A goal that you set from an emotional desire deep within yourself is highly motivating and helps you keep driving when the driving conditions get tough. 

And with any big goal, there are bound to be roadblocks and setbacks along the way.

If there is not an emotional commitment from within that keeps you focused and moving, you’re likely to give up on your goal and stop taking action towards reaching it.

The difference between the two whys is motivation.

When you have a logical reason, it gives you direction and purpose behind your decision to pursue your goal. However, since this type of reason focuses on objectives and results, it doesn’t always motivate you to continue pursuing your goal when you hit a bump in the road.

How do I find my Why?

The 5 Whys Method

The 5 Whys Method is actually a technique that was created by Toyota and is still used today. This method helps you understand the nature of a problem and get to the root cause of it. 

And no, I’m not going to THAT extreme with this car analogy. This is just working out well (… or was it planned 😉

The 5 Whys method can also be applied to understanding the underlying reason for why you desire to do something.

Why do you want to achieve that goal?

You’re more likely to achieve your goals if you understand the deep-rooted reason why you’re actually setting that goal. 

In simple terms, you ask yourself ‘Why’ five times and this typically leads to the root reason. 

Easy enough, right?

Wellllll… the 5 Whys method is quite simple in explanation, however, it takes a bit of practice to get the hang of it. 

You start by answering the initial question, ‘Why do you want to achieve (insert goal here)?’ 

Your first answer becomes the starting point for the second question that asks why do you want (i.e whatever your first answer was). 

This process is continued with 5 whys until you ultimately come up with the real reason why you want to achieve your goal.

It’s making you dig deep down into your subconscious. To peel the onion as some would say… 

When you’re going through this exercise, it is important not to look at your answers as being right or wrong. You have to try to avoid judging yourself and remain non-judgmental of your answers; otherwise, you may resist answering the question honestly and you won’t get to the true root reason.

I know this may be hard but I repeat, this has to be a no-judgment zone. 

When asking the 5 whys, try not to jump at the why questions too quickly. Give yourself time to pause and reflect on what you actually desire and how you feel about it. You may even find yourself asking ‘Why do I want this?’ before you continue to ask Why 5 times.

You may even realize you don’t really want this at all.

Remember, the first answer typically does not give away your real reason for why you want to achieve that goal. This is why it takes five rounds of asking whys (and sometimes more) before you can discover your real reason for wanting to achieve a goal.

It helps you find your clarity, your real motivators which are super important.

Once you figure out the answers to these questions, you can go a step further and ask yourself some more questions:

  • What will it mean for me when I achieve this goal? 
  • Exactly why am I going for this goal—is it because I want to do this or I think I should do it?
  • Why this goal and not some other goal?

This can help you gain even more clarity before you jump in the car to go.

Okay, I found my Why, now What?

Now that you have found your why, the next step is to figure out how to achieve it. This can be done by creating a vision board or creating SMART goals. 

If you need some help on SMART goals, you know I got you covered girl.

It’s time to stop procrastinating and get in the car girl! 

Figure out what the first step is and get started! Because let’s face it, one of the biggest obstacles is getting out of our own way and putting your car in drive. 

It doesn’t matter if it seems like a small step or a daunting task—just get yourself in gear and let’s head towards your goals.

Give yourself permission to realign your goals with your Why if needed

Part of creating a successful plan that will get you to where you want to go is flexibility. In order to remain flexible, it’s important to look at your goals periodically and see if they’re still relevant. If the why behind what you’re doing has changed or disappeared, then so should your goals.

Sometimes we set out on a journey thinking we know where we want to be and why we want to get there, but as life unfolds, our core reasons for wanting something may change, which means the goals we set as a result of those reasons need to evolve as well.

Have check-ins with yourself to make sure you’re still on track

Once you’ve set out to achieve your goals, it’s important to check in with yourself every once in a while. This can be done simply by asking yourself simple questions like:

How am I doing?

Am I staying focused and committed to achieving my goal?

Am I still motivated to achieve this goal?

If the answers are not where they need to be, it’s time to make a change.

Take a few moments throughout the day to remember your why. Reflect on how this goal will benefit you and others in your life. Think about what the future would look like if you reached your goal. What needs to happen for that to become a reality?

Celebrate Wins

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Once you’ve achieved a milestone towards your goal, celebrate! The harder the journey is to get there, the happier you will be when you achieve it! Once you’ve made your toast and celebrated your win with family and friends, take a moment to reflect on the process that got you here. Celebrating your wins along the way can be a good reminder of why you wanted to get there in the first place.

The process of setting goals can be daunting. But, if you take the time to discover your ‘why’ for wanting to achieve the goal and then create SMART goals around this, it will make achieving those goals much easier.

It is also important to reflect on how these decisions come together in an effective plan that will get you where you want to go. This includes flexibility with our why behind what we’re doing as life unfolds—if things change then so should our goals which means they need to evolve accordingly.

Reminding yourself about your Why & reflecting on whether or not this goal benefits both yourself and others might help keep motivation levels high throughout the journey of reaching the goal.

Finally, celebrating your win and reflecting on what got you there can be a great reminder of why you wanted to reach that goal in the first place.

Let me know in the comments below what your goals are? Do you know your ‘why’?

Until next time,


How To Discover Your ‘Why’ When Setting Goals

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