5 Steps to Finding Your Financial Why

The Reason To Understand Your Why

As I discussed in a previous article, to achieve financial independence, you not only need skills to create & stick to budgets as well as investing for the future, but you also need to understand why you want to achieve financial independence.

Need To Think About Your Why

If you’re doing it just to accumulate money, odds on you’ll fail because you’re not following your personal values and purpose. Personal values and purpose drive behavior. Values guide the decisions we make and keep us on track. Values help us to avoid silly mistakes and makes it more likely we will stick to our plan.

We will stick to the budget, save more, and carefully analyze any debt accumulated against our values and purpose.

A valueless pursuit of money will accomplish the opposite. Our savings and spending habits will suffer because there is always something else to chase. People driven by money are typically selfish, restless workaholics who have little time for family.  Many justify their behavior by declaring they are doing it for family when they are really doing it for themselves (I know from experience).

When you know your why your efforts are naturally inclined toward your value and purpose. For example, if your drive for financial independence is to ensure your children have a better life than you did, your chances of success have just improved dramatically.

The reason for this is because money follows values and purpose, not the other way around. Whether at your career or in your life, following your values and purpose is your north star directing you on your journey.

So how do you find you why?

Here is a 5-step plan to finding your why.

5 Steps To Finding Your Why

Look To Your Past

I always tell the people I mentor that in order to know your future you must understand your past. Why? Because understanding your past, enables understanding of the choices being made today. Current behavior is dictated by the choices made in the past. Knowing the why behind what you used to do will help in understanding if that same why makes sense today or if it needs to be adjusted to the new reality.

For example, in a previous article, I talked about how my life revolved around making more money and the enabler for that was advancing in my career. I didn’t care who I had to compete against, outwork, outhustle, or just plain step on to get ahead. I was dead set and determined to do it.  My why back then revolved around accumulating wealth and prestige. Family needs were secondary.

Now, my why has changed. My why and purpose in life is my kids. I don’t want them to have to worry about if there is enough money to keep the lights on or if they will have a place to live. I want them to be financially literate and understand how money follows value. I want them to have a better life than I did at their age.

Today, I’m less worried about my career. Most of my energy goes into raising them and watching them grow up. No amount of money can buy this life that I’m living. Don’t get me wrong, I still work hard and strive to continue advancing in my career. The difference is my why has changed.

If there is a parent-teacher conference or IEP meeting that I need to go to, that is my top priority. I manage work around those meetings not the other way around like I used to.

If you are struggling to understand your past, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How did you act?
  • Why did you act that way?
  • What worries and struggles did you have? Why did you have them?
  • What did and didn’t you want to happen?
  • What type of life would have made you most happy and fulfilling?

Taking the time to think about the past allows us to find the behavior patterns that drove decision making back then that we may not have noticed occurring or just plain ignored.


Once you understand your past, next self-evaluate your present. Think about your choices and behavior presently. Figure out if your actions line up with your values and your why. If your actions align with your why, great! Realizing this will make you feel great about yourself and the choices being made. If your actions don’t align to your why, you’ll feel hollow, empty, and out of alignment.

Listen to that feeling and think about the actions you want to take. If the actions are in alignment with your why then do it. If not in alignment, then think about where that feeling is coming from and figure out where the conflict in interest is coming from. Dig deep to find out why you’re feeling this way.

Going through this process will clarify if you are being true to yourself and living your life based on the why that is important to you or living a life expected of you by your family & friends, media, and culture.

Do this exercise enough times and you’ll create a habit in your decision-making that will make living your why easier by the day.

If not certain how to get started doing self-evaluation, try asking yourself these questions:

  • Why is having money important to you?
  • Why do you spend money the way you do?
  • What motivates you? Why?
  • What are you excited about?
  • What do you wish you could do but never have? What’s holding you back?
  • Why do you invest the way you do?
  • What influences you and why?
  • What actions support your values? What detracts from your values?
  • Do these actions align to your financial why?

Create Promises and Goals

Now that you have completed your self-evaluation, next determine how you are going to start living your financial why. A good place to start is to create promises and goals.

First, why create a promise? A promise is defined as a declaration that something will or will not be done.

Promises ar Close To the Heart

Whereas a goal is defined as the end result or achievement toward which effort is directed.

IMO and from my experience, goals are nice to have and can add measurables for rating progress. However, goals are hollow without a promise backing it up.

A promise is a commitment to meet your objective. It is a commitment to follow through on your word. Keeping promises holds a lot of emotional value and when a promise is broken, there is a severe decline in trust.

As discussed in QuestionPro, promises are more personal. Only you can make or break them. Personally when I make a promise, I think long and hard before I do it. When I make a promise, I will literally move the heavens if I have to keep a promise. The reason for this is making a promise usually involves hard work, commitment, and is taken very seriously.

On the other hand and at its core, goals are simply ways to measure progress. Setting goals is a way to measure and track success or failure, that’s it.

Therefore, it is important to make promises and set goals. A promise is the commitment while a goal will measure progress.

Once you know your financial why, the next progression is to identify the promise(s) you will make to yourself to succeed. From there, create the goals you will use to measure progress.

For example, if your promise is to be financially independent in 10 years, the next thing to do is set goals that measure success. Maybe a goal is to have $2,000 a month in passive income be generated within the next 3 years. It could be to reduce your debt by 75% in the next 5 years. It could also be to start saving 40% of net income in the next year. Whatever the case is, goals need to be created that enable the promise to occur and the promise needs to be setup that enables the financial why to happen.

Once goals are set what’s next? The next thing you need to do is create a success plan.

Develop a Success Plan

A success plan is used to determine how to start living your financial why. How should you start? The first thing you should do is write down the habits, routines, and decisions being made that allowed you to make the most progress toward past goals.

Developin A plan nd Filling in the Blanks

Maybe you successfully lost 50 lbs. in 6 months. How did you do it? How did you manage success and overcome obstacles? What tripped you up along the way and how did you work through it? Leverage this information to develop the plan to achieve your financial why.

A big part of a success plan is creating an environment that enables success and serves as a resource for enabling positive behavior. For example, let’s use working out as an example. If your goal is to work out 3 times per week for an hour, then prepare your routine to do just that. On workout days, I used to have all my work clothes and shower gear packed and ready to go. I had my lunch and workout clothes packed and laid out the night before. I even had a workout routine planned out for each day and made sure I had 8 hours of sleep the night before.

Preparing for financial success is no different. If you goal is to save 30% of your income for investing, then set yourself up for success. Create a plan to pay yourself first even before paying your bills. Investigate ways to automatically route money from your account directly to your 401K, IRA, and brokerage account. Investigate using auto pay, bill pay, or a hybrid approach to pay your bills efficiently. Setup an account with Personal Capital, Mint, or another online budgeting app to track progress and make corrections as needed. Plan for success in order to achieve success.

When developing a plan, use the list of questions below to push yourself toward the path of success and enable positive behaviors:

– How will you hold yourself accountable?

– What tools or habits need to be created to be successful?

– What skills do I need to learn to be successful?

Take Action

Last but not least, take action. All the self-evaluation, promise creation, and planning is meaningless if action isn’t taken.

Winning The Game To Find Your Why

Once you have your why and know the steps needed to fulfill it, go live it, and make it happen! Keep your why front and center in order to keep it at the forefront of your life. Distill it down to a phrase or sentence then put it on your calendar, your note taking app, or even use good old-fashioned sticky notes to plaster it all over your house. Whatever it takes to achieve it, just do it. I recommend starting with a micro-habit. I received this inspiration from the book, Atomic Habits. I tested this myself and it works phenomenally. Here’s how it works:

Let’s say you have a habit you want to create (i.e. to be able to do 50 consecutive pushups). Research has shown that it takes at least 21 consecutive days of behavior modification to create a habit. The reason most of the people fail is that they attempt to do too much too soon.  It is better to start with a smaller version of your habit, achieve success, and repeat the next day. As you develop the habit and get better, increase the measurable, rinse and repeat until success is achieved.

Here is a great example on how I applied this principle. I had a goal of doing 100 pushups a day. Now, if I attempted to do 100 pushups a day from day 1, I guarantee you I would fail miserably. I’m in horrible shape and my body isn’t used to it.

What I did instead was to set a floor and a ceiling. I started by setting a floor of 10 pushups and a preferred outcome of 30 pushups. It did not matter to me how many attempts had to happen in a day so long as at the end of the day it fit in this range.

I started out by doing just 10 pushups and BARELY did it. After a couple of weeks, I increased the floor to 12, then 15, then 20, then 30. Keep in mind I did not do 30 consecutive pushups. Instead, I did 3 sets of 10. I went thru good days and bad days. Some days I only did 10, others I did 30. I even had days where I did not do any BUT the next day, I made sure to do at least 10. Over the past year, through ups and downs, I now do 100 pushups a day (3 sets of 33 pushups). I plan to continue this to increase the number I can do consecutively and decrease the sets it takes.

Why am I going thru this? To show you how using an atomic (micro) habit led to success and changed both my behavior and physical conditioning.

Imagine what applying this principle can do to other aspects of your life such as your finances! If you start to struggle with meeting your financial goals set an atomic habit, a steppingstone, to achieve the end goal. As you achieve success, increase the measurable that is closer to your goal. Rinse and repeat until the goal is achieved.

Try it… it’s a game changer! 😊

Where To Go From Here?

Finding your financial why can be a fluid process that requires both practice and patience. The important thing is to get started, practice patience, and forgive yourself if a slip up occurs. This is a long road with many winding turns and it’s important to not to be too hard on yourself as you start this journey.

The most successful people I know understand their why in life.

The fundamentals to achieve financial independence aren’t complicated. However, without a why to accompany the basic principles, it will be challenging to achieve your goals.

Your why reflects your values which drive what you think about and how you behave. If you want to live your life to the fullest…. live it on your terms.

I hope this inspires you to find your why and to take the 1st step towards achieving your dreams.

Live the Life You Love, Want, and Deserve! 😊