The importance of knowing your why



It's a question every parent of a toddler faces multiple times a day.  But it's also commonly asked of us in adult conversations too.  Whether we are a corporate high-flyer, a stay at home mum, a working mum, or any other combination, it's hard to escape the question; 'What is your why?'

Throughout my different roles and careers, the discussion around 'why' has been consistent.  As a Human Resources professional,  as a life coach, as a consultant, and of course, as a mother; knowing why I am doing the things I am doing has been key in my journey.

Knowing your 'why' has a solid history in the corporate world, and is directly linked to purpose in most business discussions and articles. (In the business world, your why is often called purpose. They are very similar, but have subtle differences too.)

In the entrepreneurial space, many sell the benefits of knowing your why, or your calling.  Lisa Messenger (Founder and Editor in Chief of The Collective) mentions in all her books the need to know your why.  She refers to it numerous times and provides some good advice and examples of how to really dig down to uncover what drives you.

So why should we care about knowing our reason, purpose or why?

It matters

Put simply, because this stuff is important.

Our why can be any or all of the below;

  • the reason we do things

  • our purpose here on earth

  • the action or thoughts that motivate us in the morning

  • the rationale for our work and goals

When we know our why, our purpose and our reason for being, then everything else falls into place.

Why and priorities

As parents, whether we are bereaved or not, knowing our why helps us prioritise.  When we are grieving, life can feel like a big mess.  We can feel overwhelmed, confused, and the smallest decisions can feel almost impossible. Yet knowing our why can give some clarity in this situation.

As a working parent, when we are stressed, juggling work and home commitments and attempting to be wonder woman all at the same time; knowing our 'why' can help provide clarity to what is truly important, and what is not.  Knowing this helps us prioritise and manage our time.

Our Why can change

Understanding my why and purpose has changed over time based on my experiences, feelings, and most pertinently, the circumstances I find myself in.

For example, when we lost our second son my 'why' was our first-born. He was the reason I got up and kept going, he was the reason I did not wallow in my grief.  My beautiful toddler kept me grounded and present; he was my reason to keep going and attempt to find the joy again in life.

Now, with the years that have passed, my reason has changed.

My high-level why is about making a difference and helping others.

When I dug deep and followed prompts contained in one of Lisa Messengers books (Money & Mindfulness: Living in Abundance), I found my real reason at the moment is love.


  • Did I choose to be a life coach? Truly from the bottom of my heart, it's about love.

  • Do I juggle my time so I can be present for my children as well as run my business? Love.

  • Are we creating our dream home , a place of safety, security and sanctuary? Love.

The love of and for my family, and a desire to create a place where we are all happy, safe and together is my why. It's what drives me. It's not sexy, not glamorous, and it's not necessarily altruistic.

But it is honest, genuine and deeply personal.

How to find your why

As a start, ask yourself the following questions.

  • What is your purpose?

  • Why do you do what you do?

  • Why?

  • Keep asking why until you get to an answer where you cannot ask it any more. The final answer might be a word or two, and most likely will capture a feeling.

  • That feeling; that is your why.

(Note, this is a very simplified approach. The original, more detailed version is in Money & Mindfulness: Living in Abundance)

What now?

There are times in our life when we are more likely to seek our why and be keen to explore what that means for our life, the roles we perform, our career and or our business.

Transition times such as after the loss of a loved one, career change or career redirection are frequently when we consider what we really want from life and reassess what is important to us.  And it's at these times that tapping into what drives us, our why, can assist with bringing the clarity, confidence and joy that we seek from life.

Knowing our why can help us shape our life to be the life we desire.  A life full of joy, hope and love.

If you have enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend you know might benefit from reading it too.

If you are feeling the call to explore your why, I can help.  I love to support people find their purpose through transitions - and I'd love to help you!  Get in touch to have a chat about how we can work together, or book a complimentary consult.