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What is Your Why? 5 Examples to Help You Find Yours

by Hugo

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Key points

  • Your "Why" is a deep-seated motivator guiding life choices.
  • Continual self-questioning helps uncover your personal "Why."
  • Aligning actions with your "Why" enhances happiness and fulfillment

My personal “Why” statement in life is to be worth everything that has been given to me, and to have as much of a positive influence on the world as possible. But what is a “Why” statement? How can you find your own “Why” in life?

You need to find and define your own personal “Why” in life. Every single person has a deep motivation that fuels their life in the grand scheme of things. If you keep questioning why you do the things you do, you will eventually find your own personal “Why” in life.

This article shows you how you can find your personal “Why”. I’ve included actionable tips and different examples of others. After finishing this article, you will know exactly how to find your “Why”.

What is a “Why” in life?

What is your “Why” in life?

This question is very common but makes you think about what you truly want out of life. How do you find out what your “Why” in life is? By asking as many questions as possible:

  • Why do I do this?
  • Why do I value this over that?
  • Why am I not happy when X happens?
  • Why am I stressed now?

If you keep asking these questions, it’s likely that you’ll eventually end up with the same answer.

Common answers to these “Why” questions are usually a variation or combination of the following:

  • Providing for my family.
  • Success.
  • To leave a legacy.
  • Feeling loved.
  • Having a positive impact on the lives of others.
  • Fortune.

Finding your “Why” in life

So how do you find your “Why” in life? One way to try is by asking yourself the questions I mentioned before:

  • Why do I do this?
  • Why do I value this over that?
  • Why am I not happy when X happens?
  • Why am I stressed now?

Here’s an example:

Q: Why am I so stressed all the time?

A: Because my work makes me stressed.

Q: Why do I work every day from 7:00 to 16:00?

A: Because I need money in order to do the things that I value most.

Q: What do I value most?

A: To live a happy life and to be surrounded by people who I can have positive interactions with.

Q: Why do I want to have a positive influence on the world?

A: Because I’ve been given an opportunity in life that not a lot of other people have gotten (good upbringing, basic needs, family, health, education). I don’t just want to take these for granted. I want to use this opportunity to give back to the world.

A-ha. This is a “Why” statement that I can personally be happy with. With just 4 questions, I’ve dug down to the bottom of my “Why”, which shows me what drives me to do the things I do in life.

It’s also important to be willing to take a step back and look at the general direction of your life. Are you really living a life that you won’t regret one day? This is a harder question to answer, but it’s important to consider this every once in a while.

What does our data say?

I’ve interviewed 33 people who have at some point “reinvented” themselves in order to live a life that’s aligned with their “Why”. As a result of reinventing themselves, these people have shared with me the mental struggles that they’ve overcome:

Our most recent interviews discussing self-reinvention:

Examples of corporate “Why” statements

The “Why” statement has become quite popular ever since the book Start With Why by Simon Sinek became a global best-seller.

This book covers the importance of “Why” statements in the corporate world, and how leaders can inspire more people to do the same by starting with the question “Why?”

The idea is that everything you do – whether you’re a business or a person – should have the same fundamental reason. So if somebody started to question your actions (why do you do that? Why this? Why that?), eventually, you’d circle back to your main “Why” statement.

“Why” statements are common in businesses already. Here are some examples:

  • We aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently. – Apple
  • To connect millions of people in real life all over the world, through a community marketplace– so that you can belong anywhere. – Airbnb
  • To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. – Microsoft
  • To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. – Google

Examples of personal “Why” statements in life

Even though you have to define your own “Why” statement in life, it’s still interesting to read about other people’s statements. That’s why I’ve asked around to include examples of personal “Why” statements in this article.

“My why is to share the power of therapeutic humor with others.”

This personal “Why” statement comes from David Jacobson, who is the president of Humor Horizons. I think this is a great example of how simple a personal “Why” statement in life can be.

My why is to share the power of therapeutic humor with others. Humor has been life transforming for me. It has enabled me to cope with chronic pain and severe arthritis. I have been able to do a 50-miles unicyle ride as a fund raiser which I partially attribute my sense of humor to helping me complete. I wrote a book on the humor habits that I use to help me cope and I am now beginning a research project to use positive depression tests rather than negative (how happy are you vs how sad, etc). My sense of humor is my source of happiness!

“My why is to help people be more connected in their life, career, and business.”

This “Why” statement comes from Beth Bridges and shows how a life event can solidify your purpose in life. Beth is an author and specializes in the power of networking. She also runs The Networking Motivator, a website about sharing networking strategies with others.

Here’s how she defines her “Why” in life.

My why is to help people be more connected in their life, career, and business. A year and a half ago, my husband of 17 years had a massive heart attack and was gone in minutes. What saved my sanity? The friends and business connections who gladly helped me with things small and large. Without that community, I would have been lost in despair and sadness. Now, I want to make sure that everyone has the tools and knowledge to build their own community so that they can survive whatever life throws at them.

“To push myself to be the best version of myself so that I know my mom is smiling down on me.”

This personal “Why” statement comes from Colby West, who shares a very touching story on how a life event can influence your “Why”. I think this is a great example of how you can be driven to make the most of yourself by defining a fundamental reason, a.k.a. your “Why”.

I lost my mom to alcohol abuse on the 14th of March 2017, which I didn’t know the degree of until it was too late. It took me about 2 years to realize that I needed to make a change in my life in order to become the person I know she would want me to be. Almost 4 months ago, I decided to work smarter AND harder and “spread my wings” a bit. I quit drinking alcohol, committed to health and wellness so much that I got my body fat % down to about 5%, all while adding 3 (soon to be 4) income streams to my life. Though I’m nowhere near finished, and will likely never be satisfied, I will continue to push myself to be the best version of myself so that I know my momma is smiling down on me, 100%.

“To leave the world better than I found it and be remembered by the people whose lives I touched as a force for good in their lives.”

This one comes from Paige, which I find a really inspiring example. “To leave the world better than I found it” is such a simple but powerful purpose. Paige started a global branding and marketing firm – called Mavens & Moguls – 18 years ago. She’s been happily married for 27 years, has a close circle of friends, nieces, nephews, and god kids.

She says:

Quite simply I want to leave the world better than I found it and be remembered by the people whose lives I touched as a force for good in their lives.

I lost 7 people very close to me in 6 years and know first hand no one on their deathbed wishes they worked more, made more money or won more awards. They just want to be with the ones they love most and to tell them they mattered. I think of those people often and the roles they played in my life. I want to be remembered for passing along the very best in me to others so their lives are better and happier in some way because I was part of it.

“To be worth it.”

This is my personal “Why” in life, and in order to explain what this means, I have to go back in time.

On the 17th of July, 2014, I wrote a journal entry that eventually went off-topic into a rant about how lucky I was. This is what I wrote down:

Seriously, I’ve been extremely lucky in my life so far. I have great parents and financial security. As a result, I’ve gotten a solid education, friends, safety, hobbies and I can easily get around. More importantly, I’ve not had any major setbacks in life so far.

That leads me to think: Am I worth it? Do I actually deserve all these things? More importantly, how can I make sure that I actually deserve everything that I’ve been lucky enough to have so far?

Simply appreciating what I have is definitely NOT enough. No way. I want to give back to my parents and to make them happy. I want to help other people as much as I’ve been helped in the past. And most importantly, I want to have a positive influence on the world.

Come to think of it, I need to be the best version of myself I can. I need to reach my full potential.

But what is my potential? I think I can potentially do a lot of good things in my life. I’m smart, physically fit and mentally healthy (I think). But why? Because I’ve been so lucky in the past already. My luck has given me so many potential opportunities, and if I want to be “worth it”, I need to make sure that I don’t let these opportunities go to waste. There are people with fewer opportunities (aka less luck) that still manage to have an amazing influence on the world by reaching their full potential. I need to do the same. I need to be worth it.

How?

  • By giving my “luck” to others as much as I can.
  • By “paying it forward”.
  • By not letting my opportunities go to waste.
  • By appreciating everything that I have and not just taking it for granted.
  • By being the best person I can.

I don’t believe in karma, but if I did, it basically comes down to accumulating as much positive karma as possible. That’s how I can be worth it.

Me

Even though I wrote this years ago, this is still exactly how I feel about my life. At the time, I didn’t worry about my wording. Instead, I just wrote whatever thoughts raced through my mind.

But now, after giving it some more time, I have redefined my personal “Why” in life like this:

To be worth everything that has been given to me, and to have as much of a positive influence on the world as possible.

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Wrapping up

There you have it. There are many different reasons to do the things you do in life, but they generally follow the same fundamental driving force. If somebody started to question your actions, you’d have to be able to circle back to your main “Why” statement. If you’ve made it all the way down this article, I hope you know how to define your own personal “Why” statement.

I’d love to hear from you now! What is your “Why” in life? What makes you do the things you do on a daily basis when you really think about it? Let’s share more examples in the comments below!

Hugo Huijer AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Founder of Tracking Happiness, with over 100 interviews and a focus on practical advice, our content extends beyond happiness tracking. Hailing from the Netherlands, I’m a skateboarding enthusiast, marathon runner, and a dedicated data junkie, tracking my happiness for over a decade.

43 thoughts on “What is Your Why? 5 Examples to Help You Find Yours”

  1. Wow – such a great inspiring article – I have been looking for my ‘ “why?” ‘ for years and hope to find it soon!
    Thanks!🤗

    Reply

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