Start With Why. But First, What?

A couple of day ago, I wrote on the importance of starting an endeavor with an important question – why? Why do I want what I want? Why am I chasing this?

This ‘why’ will serve as your staying power when things go south, because they will. But because you have a strong reason why you want what you want, you will be able to persevere through the challenges. You will be able to see the end goal in your mind’s eye, and be able to keep pushing until you are out of the dark place.

But all of this is precipitated upon one assumption – that you know what you want.

Alas, a lot of people are walking around in the world today, waking up every day and going to work, but they do not know what they truly want out of life. If you ask them what they want, they’ll probably say “money”.

Then ask them how much, and you will get a pause before they answer.

Then most people, simply by default, will mention the highest amount they can imagine.

If you press them more, you will discover an appalling truth – they are not sure what exactly they want out of life.

This will seem like a false assumption. You may wonder, “ahn ahn, why won’t I know what I want? After all, I wake up every morning and go to work. Why would I go to work every day if I don’t know what I want from my work?”

That is a valid question.

So, let’s carry out a little experiment. You are not allowed to think long about it. As soon as you see the question, you have a maximum of five seconds to provide your answer. It may take longer to finish providing the answer, but you must have started  before five seconds is up.

Ready? Go!

If the richest man in the world comes to you right now and tells you, “I will give you anything you want. Anything, just name it.” What will you tell him you want?

Were you able to give an immediate answer to that question?

Now here is the twist: What if he left and came back to ask you the same question a couple of days later, would your answer still be the same, or would you have finally remembered something you were supposed to say the first time that you didn’t?

Allow yourself at least one minute (pause your reading of this post) and attempt the exercise again. This time, think more carefully before you give your answer.

If one minute is too little, take all the time you need. I’ll still be here when you finish.


Done? Now, what is your answer the second time? Is it the same as, or at least about 80% similar to, the first answer?

If it is, then congratulations! You know what you want out of life.

But if your answers are too divergent, well, congratulations to you too! There’s hope for you because you are reading this right now.

So your assignment now is, for the next couple of days, begin to think about this. What do you really want out of life?

The answer may not come to you immediately, or may not be clear at first. This is why you need a couple of days to do the exercise.

Keep asking. Let it fill your thoughts every waking moment. Let it be what you dream about when you sleep, either at night or during the day.

Keep asking yourself – what do I want out of life?

When you finally get your answer, you can now go back to asking – why? Why do I want this thing that I want?

You can read this post if you need help with that.

Congratulations! You now know what you want, and why you want it.


As you go through life, you may notice what you want changing from time to time. Don’t worry, this is to be expected. You are not “unserious”.

Why does this happen? Well, because the future you can envision for yourself today is largely dependent on the past you have seen. Most times, it is the extent of your current knowledge that determines what you think is possible.

As you see more, your definition of possible will also naturally shift to accommodate your new knowledge. So you may see that what you want from life is also shifting to accommodate the new you.

It is a good thing. It means you are growing.

And all you have to keep doing, my friend, is keep growing.

PS: If you did the two exercises on what you want, were your answers the same or very similar both times?

Samuel is an avid reader and a freelance writer, in that order. He fancies himself funny, but his friends regularly don't laugh at his jokes. I have been a student of personal development for several years, and I created this blog to share my knowledge with others and help them become better versions of themselves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *