A Guide to Finding Your Why

Dean PohlmanBlogs, From Dean, Lifestyle & WellnessLeave a Comment

Week 1: Finding your motivation; uncovering your WHY.

Figure out your real reason for wanting to be healthier.

This motivation is a source of energy that helps you overcome fatigue, lack of willpower, or a bad day. It’s the personal trainer standing next to you telling you to do one more rep. It’s your own version of a pre-workout or caffeine. But in order for it to work, you’re going to have to be honest with yourself, and you’ll need to dig deep to get the real answer.

Let’s make it easier on you. When you’ve adopted the necessary habits, mindset, and uncovered your personal drive for being more fit, being healthy won’t seem like a chore – it becomes automatic. But if there’s no deep, personal reason driving you to make healthy choices for your long-term success in favor of immediate, short-term gratification with more unhealthy choices, you’re going to have a really hard time forcing yourself to do things you need to do. You’ll look at being fit as a burden, instead of an opportunity to enjoy. And you’ll rely on a finite amount of willpower to get you through things; one that will eventually run out.

To find your personal source of motivation, you need to dig deep. You need to be completely honest with yourself as you explore the deeper emotions involved; the fear of pain and loss, your insecurities, and your negative past experiences. This is the only way to successfully practice and implement this concept.

But won’t it be enough if you just list your reasons? Nope. You need to get to the source. Your why is step 1, the roots of the tree, the base of a building, the foundation of any set of goals. Without your why, your goals have no basis. They aren’t tied to any source. By figuring out what’s truly motivating us, we build a foundation for ourselves that we can use as a guide to for easily making and acting on healthy decisions. Think of it as the thesis of your own personal fitness mission statement.

If you don’t understand your why for fitness, your results won’t be sustainable. You might stick with it for a few days, weeks, or even months, but eventually you’ll revert back to the old you. You’ll have no sense of direction keeping you fixed on a long-term vision. That’s why it’s so important that you develop and understand your why, so fitness as a priority becomes tied to your very personality, for the rest of your life.

It’s the same as having a mission statement for a business. Your decisions, your strategies, and your actions are derived from this company mission statement. If not, you’ll eventually run into problems. You’ll forget why you’re in business in first place, and you’ll chase short-term payoffs instead of focusing on long-term vision.


How do you know when you’ve found your why?

It’s the answer you get when you’ve asked “why” to the point that the answer is “because”.
Here’s an example:

  • Why do you want to be healthy?
    Because I want to look good.
  • Why do you want to look good?
    Because I want to feel confident.
  • Why do you want to feel confident?
    Because I want to feel capable to achieve my personal and professional goals.
  • Why do you want to achieve your personal and professional goals?
    Because I want to feel fulfilled with myself.
  • Why do you want to feel fulfilled?
    Because… because, that’s why!

When you get to “because”, you’ve found your answer! This is your motivation; your WHY. In this case, the motivation for being healthy is wanting to live a fulfilling life. But no answer is incorrect, as long as you’re being honest with yourself in answering your questions.

But there are guidelines for your why; ways for you to call bullshit on yourself if you’re not being honest. And one of the easiest ways to do that is whether or not your why has emotion attached to it.

We like to tell ourselves that we are logical beings, but we’re not. We make decisions emotionally, and use logic to justify them. This is why it’s important that your why has emotion attached to it. If you the follow the process of asking yourself “why” and your final reason doesn’t involve fear of pain or loss, then you’re probably not be honest with yourself.

Think about a non-family member you love, a friend or significant other, and then try to explain why you love them. You’ll mention qualities you admire about them, things that you’ve been through, but ultimately it’s difficult to convey through words or confine your explanation to a few sentences.

Or think about your favorite brand, and then explain why you like them so much. You’ll list your favorite songs, a concert you saw them at, or maybe even the singer’s personality, but those are all just logical reasons you can just to logically justify why you like them.

The reason it’s difficult to explain something like this is because emotions are hard to explain.

Qualities, attributes, and experiences can all be used to justify your feelings, but it’s your emotions that are stronger than logic.

This is the reason why getting to your “why” is so important – because it is based in emotion, rather than logic. More than something we can explain, it is something we FEEL. And feeling your motivation is much more powerful than explaining it.

Let’s take a look at another example.

  • What do you want to accomplish with this program?
    I want to move pain-free, to reduce my risk of injury, and improve my overall performance.
  • Why?
    I want to continue to be able to exercise, to maintain my physical fitness levels and appearance, and stay healthy.
  • But really, why?
    Because I want autonomy over my body. I want to still be able to move when I’m older. I don’t want to be in a hospital or have surgery, because it makes me sad. I want to maintain my appearance because I like the way I look, because it makes me feel confident.

Of these answers, which is the most powerful? Do you notice the difference in every answer as you slowly peel back the layers? The more I dig into my initial answer, the more powerful my “why” becomes.

Now that you understand the importance of why, it’s time for you to find yours! Take some time, sit down, and answer the questions below as you really THINK about what’s driving you to make fitness a non-negotiable part of your life.

Watch this longer video on the importance of finding your why.

Assignment: Find your “why”.


  • A minimum of 10 minutes.
  • A quiet environment.
  • A notebook and a pen.


  • Use a notebook or a blank word document to write down your responses to the questions below. ELIMINATE ALL DISTRACTIONS – turn your phone on airplane mode, disconnect your laptop from the internet, and sit in a neutral, quiet space. (A coffee shop with ambient noise, a park bench, your living room, etc.)
  • Explore the real values and motivation behind your desire to be successful with your fitness. DIG DEEP. Continue to refine your answer until you’ve come up with an answer that deeply resonates with you – even if (and maybe especially if) it’s something you’re embarrassed or insecure about. When you’ve written something that REALLY resonates with you, underline it.
  • A final piece of advice – your why should resonate with you. When you look at your final answer, you should say, “WHOA. That’s what I really meant.”.

Set your timer for 10 minutes, eliminate distractions, and… go!
(If you go over 10 minutes, keep going – take as much time as you need.)

  1. What’s your why for fitness? Continue to refine your answer, asking yourself “why” for each one, until your answer becomes “because!”
  2. What are you scared of happening if you are unsuccessful with your fitness goals? What are you afraid will happen in 1, 5, or 10 years if your fitness life remains the same as it is now? What would you have missed out on? How would your health be?
  3. How could this help you increase your feeling of control and autonomy over your own life?

Additional Questions:

  1. How could this program help you grow personally?
  2. How could accomplishing your fitness goals help you on a social level? How could it enhance your relationships?
  3. How could this help you professionally?

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