How To Work Out Your WHY A simple mental model…

In Business, Leadership, Life, Well-Being

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. – Mark Twain.

A Life Changing Moment 

It was April 2015 on a bleak Sunday morning in Romania and I was nursing one of the worst hangovers of my life when “creative procrastination” led me to a TED Talk which would change my life for the better.

The talk was by a guy called Simon Sinek and discussed the premise of starting with why and having a vision beyond results when making decisions in life.

Simon argues that we live in a society that insists on starting with “what” (e.g. I want a new car, I want to learn a new language) rather than asking “why.” Apparently, people and businesses become more effective when they start with “why” (i.e. vision/beliefs) and work backwards towards their desired result.

This concept was a revolutionary and I decided to start applying to my own life.

The results have been amazing and now I want to show you how you can do the same.


Early Days of Travel

Until I saw this talk, I’d never really thought about “why” I was doing the things I was doing. I knew what I wanted in life, but I never asked myself “why”.

I was adamant that I would become a rich banker with a nice car, huge house and beautiful wife. I worked hard, spending all my time on the “what”, getting great grades at school, then finishing a university degree.

Upon graduation, my path was set, and the career as a banker was right there in front of me on a plate, but it didn’t feel right.

I felt empty, confused, uninspired, and I wasn’t sure why.

I thought travelling was the answer and would solve all my confusion.

I thought I craved adventure, great experiences, and wanted to meet new people who would challenge my beliefs and ideas in Australia.

But 1 year in to my trip I still found myself confused. Despite many great experiences, I felt like i was aimlessly moving from place to place.

And then I discovered why.

All along I’d been focusing on “what I wanted to do”, rather than asking myself “why” and creating a vision that would guide me.

I needed to work out my purpose and it was clear I needed to “Start With Why”.

Start With Why 

“Your why” is an empowering meaning bigger than yourself, which is focused around a universal statement, belief or vision which guides you in your life pursuits.

Like the navigation system on a ship, knowing “your why” gives you direction, hope and a goal to work towards.

Whether you find “your why” in family, religion, sport, business, or travel, knowing why you do what you do gives you direction and can be used as a powerful means to guide you through the unknown and uncertainties in life.

So rather than starting with what you want, sit down with a piece of paper and work backwards, starting with why.

Here’s some more details about the procedure.

Use the WHY – HOW – WHAT formula:

Instead of starting with “what”, work backwards from “why” through “how” to “what”.

1. Why – Work out your why by examining your values, beliefs and feelings.

Useful questions to ask yourself: What are your values and morales? What do you stand for? What do you believe in? What are your passions? What do you want to be known for?

My Why: I believe in positive change through travel and education.

2. How – This is your strategy and action plan. Your how bridges the gap between your why and your what. It’s your plan to take your vision and turn it into the results that you desire.

My How: To use the road as a means for personal growth and to empower others to embark on their own journey, primarily through writing and speaking.

3. What – This is the result. It’s what you want to achieve by pursuing your why. E.g. learn a new language in 3 months, travel to 30 countries, earn €1 million before the age of 30.

My What: To travel every country in the world in a sustainable manner, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.

Please remember, like everything in life, your why is prone to change over time, and readjustments are necessary.



Without a why, you will feel lost and confused, like you are running around in a dark room trying to find the light switch.

When you know your why, you start with vision rather than results.

Knowing your why will get you out of bed in the morning. It will guide you, put you on the path and give you the energy you need to start working towards your goals.

So next time you think about doing something, don’t ask yourself what you want, but instead, start with why.

Thanks for reading and all the best,

Daniel Beaumont, Tuesday 16th February 2016

About the Author

Hello everyone, I’m Dan – a 28-year-old social entrepreneur and writer from the north of England, living in Bucharest, Romania. I’m currently writing my first book about my 4-year journey around the world seeking wisdom and life-lessons from everyday people I met hitchhiking and Couchsurfing.

I discovered that travel, if approached with the right mindset, can be life-changing, and a trip combining travel, purpose and introspection is a great way to learn, challenge oneself and change for the better. Now my mission in life is to share what I’ve learned to inspire others to embark on their own journey of self-discovery and use travel, entrepreneurship and technology as a means to make the world a better place.

I’m also the founder of Podstel – a vision to help humanity belong and grow by creating a worldwide network of ‘homes’ that bring locals and travellers together to share their stories, passions and skills. The first two Podstels are open and thriving in Bucharest, so if you’re passing through, be sure to come and say hi, or stay the night with us.

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