5 Actions You Can Take to Identifty Your Why

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to have so much energy and enthusiasm for the day while you’re just dragging along trying to get through the day?

You’ll find the answer by looking at the motivation of the people involved. Those who accomplish a great deal in the day generally have a strong sense of purpose. They know what they’re working toward and have a strong sense of why.

The good news is, you can gain this same energy by determining your own “Why.” It’s easy to find. Just exploring these five ideas will get you there!

Start With Your Interests

Is there something you’ve always been passionate about? What types of activities appeal most? What do you find yourself thinking about and looking forward to when you’re busy with tasks which don’t require a lot of thought? Typically, you can find your “Why” somehow linked to these things.

Revisit the Past

You have likely had another “Why” or two in your past already. Think back to when you were excited to start the day and couldn’t wait to jump into a certain project. What kind of “Why” was this? How long did this interest captivate you? What happened to it? You might find a new “Why” tucked into the memories of the old.

Put it in Writing

When you journal, you have an opportunity to work out your thoughts on paper. Take some time to write about what interests you and why. Take your time in exploring old memories and new ideas. Do this several times for a week, then set the journal aside for a few days. Once you’ve gained some distance from your writing, go back and read everything you wrote. What jumps out at you? What strikes you as the most interesting?

Talk to Those in the Know

There are certain individuals you can trust to know you better than you know yourself. A parent, spouse, best friend, or even a co-worker you’ve known for years can all serve this purpose. Ask them for their opinion. Sometimes all it takes is someone who isn’t close to the problem to see what you’re not able to.

What About Your Beliefs?

We all carry with us our own set of values. Think about the things which have formed your moral compass. What kinds of things trigger strong emotions in you? What causes do you find most important? What gets you upset or angry? These might be causes worth fighting for.

When you put all this information together, magic happens. You start to see the patterns. The things you come back to repeatedly tend to hide the “Why” you’re so desperately seeking. All you need to do is pull it out and hone it a little until it feels just right for you. Everything else will fall into place from there.


6 Things You Learn When You Lose Your Why

We all lose direction sometimes.

From the time we’re children, we find purpose in the things we do fairly easily. We create goals and dream big dreams almost as easily as we breathe or play with our friends. We have a “Why” from the moment someone asks us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” for the very first time.

At some point, though, we lose our original “Why.” This is normal. As we grow, our vision of the future changes. In fact, we tend to change our “Why” fairly often. It never makes it easy, though, when we lose one “Why” only to realize we don’t have another one waiting in the wings.

But did you know this could be a good thing?

There are many things we can learn from losing our “Why.” Let’s look at a handful and discover just how valuable this moment can be for building your new “Why.”

You’re Still Learning

When you lose a “Why,” it’s frequently because the old one doesn’t quite fit anymore. You’ve grown and have come to see yourself (and the world) in new and exciting ways. Of course, you’re going to need a new “Why” to embrace this new knowledge fully. Take these moments to ask yourself what new vision you now hold and how you want to incorporate this into your life.

You Still Have Your Values

We all live by a moral code formed from a combination of beliefs, knowledge, and the previous “Why” you’ve held. Consider whether anything here has changed. Use these values to help you in the decision-making process as you form your new “Why.”

Express Gratitude

Your previous “Why” taught you many things, introduced you to new people and new ideas. You gained so much in the time you held it. Allow yourself to embrace these things as something good which came out of your “Why.”

Find the Takeaway

Of course, your previous “Why” might have also offered some hard lessons. Rather than become caught up in feelings of failure or allow yourself to be dragged down by history, instead look for what you can learn from the experience.


You might even need to spend some time acknowledging the sorrow at whatever you’ve left undone with your “Why” when you let it go. This is right and natural and will help you to move on.

Trust Yourself

It’s not always easy to allow a new “Why” into your life. Self-doubt might even be causing you to question whether you know a good “Why” when you see it. The thing is, you know more than you think you do. Here’s where you need to trust as you embrace your new passion and finally take the plunge into what comes next.



When you read something that you want to learn from a textbook for college or an article that is of import to you, how do you go about it? If you are like most people, you start from the beginning, read every word and stop reading when you come to the end of the text. Maybe you go away with a feeling that what you have read was interesting, or that you will surely remember it later on. If you study for an exam, perhaps you return to the text several times and reread it in the same manner.

Like most people who read like this, you have probably been surprised at how little you remember when asked to actively recall what you have read. What you thought you knew when rereading the text was not as easily extracted from your memory when you didn’t have the text in front of you. This is because we trick ourselves to believe that we have learned something when, in fact, we have only learned to recognize it as being familiar.

What I suggest – together with thousand other teachers, educators, super-learners and speed-readers around the world – is that in order to learn and remember more efficiently, you should spend less time reading and more time pre-reading and reviewing (though not by way of re-reading the text).

What then is pre-reading?

Pre-reading is first and foremost a means to an end. And the end, the purpose, is to prime and prepare your brain to be more receptive when you later read the text.

Even before you begin to pre-read I suggest that you ask yourself some guiding questions. Why do you want to read this text? When and in what context and for what purpose are you going to use what you take away from the text? Is it for an exam, a presentation at work, to impress friends at the next party, to add to your mental encyclopedia on a certain topic, or what? Maybe you want to gather information to be able to make an informed decision about something.

Depending on the purpose of your reading, decide on what level of detail you want to be able to recall and what exactly you want to commit to long term memory. Do you want to be able to recall specific dates and details, names and numbers, or is it enough if you can recall the big picture and the conclusions? Are you interested in the analyses made, or in the facts? In all of it, or only a subdomain of the main topic?

And how long do you want to remember what you read? Do you want to keep it forever in memory, or is it sufficient if you remember it until the next staff meeting? Depending on your answers, you will read the text differently and some sections you may not want to read at all.

When you are clear about your purpose, begin with surveying the text (the book, or the chapter, or the article), just spending a few seconds per page. Note any headings, figures, images, italics, textual structures and anything that sticks out or arouses your curiosity. Anything that generates interest, curiosity and engagement with the text is good.

After each page (or natural chunk of text), look away from the text and try to recall a few items that stuck in your short term memory. See if you can make them into something memorable, fancy images that could represent the key points in the text, or the rudiments of a mindmap, for instance.

Questions to ask

As you pre-read the text, try to come up with questions that will make you want to read the text in detail to find out more, questions that will make your brain interested. I use the acronym FM-COPE to remind myself of all the different kinds of questions I could ask.

F: Factual questions: Who invented? Where did it take place? When will it expire? What parts does it consist of? Which one is the most energy-efficient? How many are there? These are the kinds of questions that often first come to mind – and unfortunately, factual questions are also the most boring and least curiosity evoking sort of questions.

M: Meaning-related questions: What is the purpose of doing X? Why is it right/ wrong to do Y? Which is better, X or Y? What is the intrinsic value of X? Does Y have a meaning? Is there a God? What did the author mean by X?

C: Childish questions: Why is NN so stupid? Why do farts smell? When will you die? Is God heavy?

O: Out of the box questions: What is the colour of number five? Does the dog look forward to its birthday? What would happen if I used X as a Y?

P: Perspectival questions: Ask questions from different perspectives, for instance, if the topic is a bookshelf: By what means can I reach the high shelf? (a child) What will happen if I break my hip while climbing the ladder to reach the high shelf, will I recover? (elderly) At what price can the shelf be sold? (salesperson) What is that smell coming from the shelf? (a dog) From what time period is the shelf? (designer) Am I willing to be persuaded by this text? (you) What would Yoda say about this argument? (Yoda/your client/boss/grandmother)

E: Emotional questions: What does it feel like to be eaten by a lion? What emotions does the text evoke? How do you make X desire Y? Is X depressed/happy?

All taken together, in a text about a battle you might ask questions like: If I were a child in the besieged city, how would I feel? If I were a woman, a soldier, a rich person? What would have happened if the other side had won? What grounds do I have to believe the details reported as facts in the text? How did they manufacture the weapons utilized? Who paid for that? How does it feel to be shot by an arrow? What are the chances of survival, and who cares for the injured? What is the purpose of the battle, long term and short term, and according to whom? Why didn’t they just let the generals have it out in a fistfight? Is war always wrong? Is killing sometimes justified, and then according to whom?

Now you are ready to begin reading the text.

  • You are curious to find out the answers to some specific questions you have come up with.
  • You have picked up roughly how the text is structured, perhaps that there will be three arguments supporting the conclusion, or that the text will give five examples of business structures, and so you have the skeleton of a mindmap by which to organize your notes.
  • You have created some visual images that will help you remember some of the content of the text.
  • You will have an inkling about which parts of the text will be less interesting for you and which are the parts where you will want to spend more time.

Thus prepared, you can begin to read, stopping now and again to create more visual markers and add to your mindmap whatever pieces of information or analysis that you want to take with you from the text into longterm memory storage.

When you have finished reading the whole text, take some time going over your notes and your mindmap to finetune and add to your visual images, notes and structure, now that you have it all fresh in mind. Time spent here will pay back manifold later.

Now all you have to do is to review your notes/mindmaps in spaced intervals so that you secure the information in your long term memory (for more about this, see the blog post about Spaced repetition).


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