Identifying Your Why

After graduating with my Bachelors, I had no idea what next to do with my life. After being in school for almost two decades, you become accustomed to the routine of waking up, going to class, participating in extracurricular activities, and doing homework before the whole process repeats itself. Beginning a completely new chapter in my life where I was in complete control of designing my life felt very daunting. The possibilities were endless. Change could come at any time, either at my own will or at the hands of others. Do I want to take a break and volunteer with the Peace Corps before attending graduate school? How about doing some internships in my field of study? Maybe a full-time entry-level position at a new startup could be promising… or just say screw it and go on a three-month soul searching journey around the world.


As you can see, the possibilities are limitless. This applies to not just when you graduate from college but when you begin a new chapter in your life. With all the possibilities around, you may find yourself with questions of where to start? But to avoid taking aimless steps, people need to know their purpose; identify their why. This is not as easy as it sounds. Trust me. It took me almost the last four years to figure out what I know now. If you have struggled with some of the issues before, here are some questions to help you get closer to identifying your why.

What do you value?

In order to figure out what your values entail, I suggest taking the time to become aware of the commonalities in your life. Identify the common threads in your everyday life and keep track of it in a notebook. Look back at and reflect upon it. There is a pattern in everything from who you spend time with regularly, what the type of events that spark your interest and down to even the spots you go to for food and sustenance nourishment.

Seeing (identifying) these patterns repetition in your life allows you to see (evaluate) your personal preferences and values. This initial step is a great stepping stone to understanding your why.


What brings you to life? What is important to you?

Whether it is helping people out with (insert activities), eating at trendy new spots in town and reporting your findings, or designing a space to make it feel more homey. Finding something that is important could be literally anything.

For the longest time, what I wanted to do with my life was predetermined by my parents and I genuinely believed that I could achieve their dream. It was not until I was about to finish college that I received a huge wake-up call. I needed to figure out what I wanted out of life.

To figure out what makes me the happiest and makes me come alive, I made an effort to consciously explore things I liked doing outside of schoolwork. Along with that, I took a look at what I make time for in my life and did a lot of reflection. As a person I once knew said, “No one is ever too busy. It is a matter of prioritizing what you believe is important to your life.”


What are your strengths?

What are you best at? Do you have great attention to detail? Juggling ten balls at once? Tending to your garden or growing your own fruits and vegetables? Look for a pattern in the skills that you use the most and are good at. Whatever it may be, your strengths are your best traits and you should be able to use these skills to its full capacity!

To figure this out, take a seat, reflect and list down your best strengths. This could range anywhere from small skills to hobbies that you enjoy the most. Are you still feeling lost as to what they are? Ask your closest friends, family members and coworkers to help you out! You might even gain a new perspective of yourself when asking the people around you these questions.


Understanding my why

When I first moved to Hawaii three years ago, I came with the intention of being involved in the Filipino community. But I lost sight of my purpose during my first year going through the motions of working full-time. I was aimlessly working odd jobs – in other words I wasn’t fulfilled. It wasn’t until I took the time to reflect on myself and realized that I was not doing what I wanted to. I needed a change.

Full disclosure. I am an avid follower of Lavendaire. This YouTube and podcaster helps people discover their purpose and living their most intentional life. Following her content has allowed me to undergo deep reflection of myself and who I am as a person. Listening to her in addition to other bloggers such as Kalyn Nicholson and Jenn Im, I established a set of themes (identifying your values, strengths, and finding what is important to you). These types of questions help me understand that writing and my cultural identity held a lot of value in my life. Journalism became a huge priority over my day job and I found myself most excited when writing stories connected to the Filipino community. Giving people the space to share their story always gives me a sense of fulfillment. I have the opportunity to build visibility towards Filipinos everywhere.

I was able to find myself again through connecting with people who could support my original purpose. Understanding my why has allowed me to continue building myself and find more opportunities to grow in my niche. Having a clear sense of my purpose helps in knowing what to say yes or no to when opportunities come knocking on the door. The more you put yourself out into the world with the right intentions, the more opportunities you manifest along the way.

Lalaine Ignao