5 Steps to Finding Your Why

5 Steps to Finding Your Why

Sponsored Content from Baker Books


A mental health and housing advocate shares her five-step plan to find your calling in life.

In my mid-forties, I felt like I had arrived at a crossroads in my life—spiritually, professionally, and personally. I longed to understand my “Why.” Why had I been born? Why couldn’t I discover what I was meant to do in this world? It wasn’t that my life was broken. In fact, I was a happily married mom with four daughters and a graphic design business. But as I began watching my teenage daughters chase their dreams, I recognized how fully I had forgotten my own. Eventually, I stumbled upon my Why—and it wasn’t at all what I expected.

It began with a whisper.

A whisper is that little voice inside you telling you to do something that feels inconvenient, unexpected, and uncomfortable. You might have already heard at least one whisper in your life, but maybe you dismissed it as simply a wild hope or an unrealistic dream. A true soul whisper eventually becomes so insistent you have to decide: Do you spend the rest of your life listening to it, or keep pretending you never heard it?

That is what finally happened to me. I listened to a whisper that kept quietly insisting I should quit my job to help build housing for people experiencing homelessness. Which made no sense because although I had been a volunteer in a soup kitchen for over a decade, I was completely unqualified to provide any real solution beyond soup. But I finally listened and it led me to my Why.

Over the last seventeen years, I’ve met hundreds of people who have listened to their own whispers. And while everyone’s process and story will be different, here are five steps to finding your Why:

Step One: Pay Attention to What Breaks Your Heart

What breaks my heart won’t be the same as what breaks yours: hunger, housing, health, education, environment, equity, immigration, or physical and mental wellness. Make a list of things you think someone should do something about. And then ask yourself: maybe I should do something about that?

Step Two: Start Small

In order to not get overwhelmed before you even begin, think of one small way you could make a difference. If you listed “early education” in step one, try something simple like donating school supplies. Take note how even a small act of kindness towards something that matters to you makes you feel.

Step Three: Get a Closer View

Once you are feeling pulled to something, keep your curiosity alive by meeting and helping people experiencing the problem you feel most drawn to; for example, you could mentor just one child. When you risk being changed by someone’s story, that will change what you might be willing to do about it.

Step Four: Make Time to Listen

As you begin putting yourself closer to people and problems that matter to you, take time to listen to what your soul has to say about it. Try journaling in the early morning or taking a walk in nature with your thoughts. Make it a spiritual practice to be mindful at least once a week and when your heart speaks, take good notes.

Step Five: Trust the Whisper

Once you begin to hear that insistent whisper no matter how unexpected or uncomfortable it may feel to listen, do something about it. Taking that leap of faith will be the beginning of finding your Why. Whispers lead us to ourselves, to each other, and to our own truest story.

5 Steps to Finding Your Why

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