Do you have strong willpower to accomplish something in life yet always fail to be successful? If yes, you need to be introduced to the “five whys.”
Determination and intention are not enough. If you wish to reach the stage that you have always been dreaming of, you need to strengthen your goal setting strategy. The five whys are all about defining effective goals that are practical and achievable.
Read on to find out more about this technique and how you can benefit from it, too!
Table of Contents
What Are the Five Whys?
Let’s start with an explanation of what exactly the five whys are. It’s no rocket science. The five whys are simply five questions based on reasons. The idea is to dig deep into whatever is going on in your head.
The Main Idea
The five whys method is an interrogatory technique. Imagine being a detective sitting in front of a potential culprit. Just like you would question every single answer that comes out from their mouth, you question yourself as well.
Of course, you’re both the culprit and the detective in this case. So, don’t even try to fool yourself. Be very honest and open. The answer to one question should lead to another question until you reach a crystal clear conclusion.
Being clear with your true intentions is a major part of setting effective goals. Unless you don’t listen to your true self, you won’t know the real reasons behind your goals. Since the true intention will be blurry, your entire path will be full of hurdles. What will that do? It will not just elongate the process and wear you out, but it will also increase your chances of failure.
The five whys are questions that vary from situation to situation. Depending on your answers and goals, the exact questions will differ every time. However, the intent is always the same.
You want to find out more about the reasons behind your goal. You may think you know the answer, but once you start digging deep, you’ll learn a lot more. Even if that’s not the case, it’s best to make sure that the reason is well-known and solid.
What to Ask Yourself
Start with the main question of what exactly your goal is. The five whys will follow this big question.
The first why should be focused on why you think you have this goal in mind. Is it going to bring you mental peace or financial stability? Or is it just a hobby you want to adopt.
Next, question its importance. Why did you choose this goal? There are probably many alternative routes available that can fulfill your needs.
For example, if you’re opting for something to satisfy a hobby, you can go for painting, music, dancing, and so much more. So, what makes you choose one of them over the others?
The third why is a continuation of the importance. But here you’ll learn how to focus on the ways that this goal directly affects your life. Why is this goal going to be a safe bet for improving your existing life?
Moving forward, ask yourself why you can’t achieve what you want without this goal. Here you need to figure out the reasons that this goal makes your life complete or fills an empty spot.
Lastly, ask yourself why this goal will make you feel better. It is a given that if you’re struggling to achieve something, you’re expecting it to make you feel better than you already do. So, why will a new hobby or financial stability or mental peace make you more excited about life?
Once again, these questions are not very strict. You can adjust them according to your situation. The only thing to ensure is that you truly interrogate yourself and leave no doubts.
How to Implement the Five Whys?
You now have a rough idea of what exactly the five whys are and what kind of questions you need to ask yourself. For a better understanding, let’s look at an example so that you know how to implement this technique in your real life.
John is a man in his 30s. He has a decent job in a well-known firm. He lives alone in a rental apartment, uses public transport, and has an average American’s social life. His pay rate is good enough to allow him to live a decent life.
However, John has been thinking about starting a side business. He will initiate a start-up from home, run it online, and gradually upsize it as the business grows. Here’s how the five whys will be implemented in a situation like this:
- Why does John need a second source of earning?
- Why can’t John fulfill his financial needs with his pay?
- Why is a business his choice among many other options?
- Why is now the right time to start the business?
- Why will a side business make his life easier and lifestyle better?
John will answer the questions one by one. He may even think of a few more whys as he goes down the road. But in the end, he’ll have a clear picture of what exactly his needs are and what makes him opt for this route.
John has a fiancée. He plans on marrying her in the coming year and starting a family in a couple more. When he gets married, John wants to have his own car and house. Although his pay is enough to fulfill his daily expenses even after marriage, there’s a lot of more that he needs to save up for.
A side business will allow him to save enough money for all his future goals including the wedding, honeymoon, house, car, etc. If he lays roots of the business now, by the time he starts a family, his business will be in a position where he won’t have to put in much time to it but still generate decent revenue.
With unexpected circumstances in the times of coronavirus, John was worried that he may lose his job. What if a similar crisis or any other tragedy makes John lose his job when he has kids to feed? That’s when his business will be enough for him to continue his life without any financial worries.
Since John will have all the answers in mind, he can devise a plan accordingly. He knows that his aim is to have a running business in a few years. So, even if the business isn’t profitable for the first 6 months, that won’t be a worry.
Converting the Whys to Step-by-Step Goals
Now, you don’t have to struggle with a mental conversation. If you’re just starting with this technique, try using a flow-chart approach.
Even if you conducted the interrogation in your mind, it’s best to write down the key points. It will help you in this second part of the process. Having the answers and clarity alone is not enough. You need to put this information to use as well.
In the case of John, he knows that he needs a second income mainly for his future. So, it won’t be an issue if whatever he starts will take time to generate profits.
At the same time, he knows that he only needs this earning as a backup. His everyday expense can be covered easily with this pay. However, the extra money will go to his savings which he will use in the coming year for his house, car, and wedding.
Since his plan includes a possibility of giving up the job and relying completely on the business, he knows he’ll have to plan something that is profitable in the long-term and isn’t just a short-term fluke.
Based on the five whys and the analysis, John’s first goal will be to research his options. Since he doesn’t have enough time to tackle a second job, a business is the only way to go. Based on his investment budget, he has to look for something that can be run online by one man initially but also has the potential to grow into a brick-and-mortar business with multiple employees.
His next goal can be to set up the website. If he’s selling a material product, a warehouse will have to be arranged. Moreover, delivery services and other aspects have to be looked into.
Next, he can move onto making enough time in his routine to be able to focus on his business. As John moves on, his goals will change accordingly.
If you also start to think and plan like John, you can easily define effective goals, tackle problem-solving issues, and restructure your life for more productivity.
The five whys are nothing but extra steps in the process of defining goals. Everybody has heard of SMART goals, but only a few are successful in actually devising SMART goals.
With the five whys, the whole process will become way easier and also more effective. It’s not hard to implement nor is it time-consuming. Just listen to your inner-self so that whatever you end up doing brings you the satisfaction that we all are looking for!
More Tips on Setting Effective Goals
- How to Set Goals and Achieve Them Successfully
- The Science of Setting Goals (And Its Effect on Your Brain)
- How Setting Personal Goals Makes You a Greater Achiever
Featured photo credit: Ricardo Arce via unsplash.com