Find Your Deeper Why2 min read

We all have a deep aspiration inside of us, waiting to be discovered, owned, and realized. How do we find it? This page explores one of the five exercises to uncover your deeper aspiration and values. It was inspired by the Fivefold Why exercise from Josh Kaufman.

If you want to develop self-discipline, you probably already know the behavior that you want to perform, the task/skill you want to master, or the person you want to become. But why do you want that?

It helps to start with one of your current goals and try to find the underlying value or aspiration. Ask yourself why that goal is important for you; when you get the answer, then ask why, again. Follow up with as many “why” questions as you need. Look within and be honest with yourself.

For example, if your goal is to “lose 20 pounds”, the inner questioning could unfold like this.

  1. Why do I want to lose 20 pounds? Because I want to be fit.
  2. Why do I want to be fit? So that I feel good about my body.
  3. Why do I want to feel good about my body? So I feel more confident.
  4. Why do I want to feel more confident? Because I want to feel more confident.

In this case, feeling confident and empowered is the core value or aspiration behind the fitness goal. Knowing this is helpful because it makes the goal more meaningful. And it also opens us up to think of other ways to fulfill that core need or desire.

Consider the habit that you want self-discipline to help you create, or the goal you want to achieve. Keep asking yourself “Why?” for every answer until you get to the bottom of it. Once you get to a point where it’s impossible to go any further, you have come to an intrinsic value. This is what the aspiration behind your goal is truly about.

Your strategy is the why for your actions. Your goal is the why for your strategies. And your aspiration is the why for your goals. So “Why?” is a powerful way to find what lies beneath your choices and desires.

This article is a summary of key ideas taken from Chapter 6 of Mindful Self-Discipline. To dive deeper, get the book or audiobook.


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