This post is courtesy of guest blogger, Debra Smouse. As a life coach for more than a decade, I’ve found that my expertise lies in helping folks figure out how to enjoy their daily lives. And while I prefer to focus on their home life rather than career, that doesn’t mean that career challenges don’t arise during sessions. It’s one of the reasons I love helping clients play the “why game” to get to the core of where their mind – and heart – really are.

Because trust me: once you commit to discovering your deeper why about any situation, you will be presented with the opportunity to live a life that goes beyond the shallows of living. Tending unimportant details with the equal attention of important ones to avoid what could be scary thoughts or even scarier emotions.

But if you want to feel satisfied about any area of your life – and maybe especially your work life – you have to be willing to dig a little deeper. That’s because living on the surface of life will always make you feel as if something is, well, missing.

Here’s how the “why game” helps and how it works.


Before you make a career change, accept a promotion, or even before your next evaluation, playing the why game will help you gain a level of clarity you’ve never had before about your work life.

And because I know that how we’re feeling about work affects our home life in some ways, playing this game will dovetail into a life that feels more fulfilling on the whole.

For example, when you believe that it’s time to find a new job, when I ask you WHY, the typical answer is “So I can be happier” or “Because I dislike my boss.”

But, let’s be honest here, sugar. That’s a throwaway answer.

Yes, it’s a truth, but it’s only a shade of the truth. It’s one that’s easy to share, sounds politically correct and folks won’t try to argue with our desire. They won’t try to sabotage us…they won’t try to talk us out of our desires by saying: “Oh, you don’t want to be happy” or “You should continue to work for someone you don’t like or respect”.

And the thing is, maybe a surface level of happiness or to work for someone you like better is a motivation to look at online job postings. Yet, anyone that has changed jobs knows that the process of finding a new job is a lot of work.

I have come to understand that in order to really be motivated to our deepest desires, we have to get downright, vulnerably, bald-faced truthful with ourselves around the REAL Why behind our desires.

After the 1st Why’s answer, I ask: “and what would that give me?” You do this at least 5 times.

You write this down. This little conversation with yourself.

And, in all honesty, it takes us about FIVE layers of that question to get to the REAL truth…at least the one that is rocking us way down deep in our soul and our heart…the ONE ANSWER that will help us with finding true satisfaction. And motivation to stick to a pursuit, especially when we’re tired or frustrated.

So, the 5 Why’s of changing jobs may look something like this

  1. Why? To be happier at work.  What would that give me? Well, I wouldn’t dread going to the office – or logging into another Zoom meeting.
  2. Why? Being so unhappy at work often means I bring a bad attitude home to my family? Ah, so what would a job change give you? The opportunity to be more present with my family.
  3. And…Why? Well, I really do dread every work day because I’ve work with a whole team of people I don’t like or respect. What would that give me? If I worked with people I liked or respected, well, that would make me feel valued as an employee and colleague.
  4. Ah…So Why do I want to change jobs? Because I don’t feel respected or valued where I am. In fact, I feel taken for granted. It’s hard to feel excited about anything when I’m just expected to do my work and keep my mouth shut. What might a job change give me?  The opportunity to be respected while doing good work that is interesting.
  5. I see. So, why do you want a new job? I want to feel important. My family loves me no matter what, but I want to feel as if I have real value in the WORLD. What would that give me? The ability to look at myself in the mirror with more satisfaction and respect.

Can you see how playing the “why game” helps you find your REAL reasons rather than just the surface excuse?

Because it’s easy to live on the surface of our work life. But a satisfying career often depends upon knowing those deeper truths. And let’s be clear: while all of the answers you discover are a shade of truth, when you know your deeper reasons it opens your mind to what is possible now. And how to find your motivation to go towards that future moment you desire.

Better yet, playing the why game may also help you discover that maybe you don’t want something.

Just because my imaginary answers to the “why do you want a new job” went in the direction of finding a new one, maybe you find you don’t want a new job. Rather, you may find that the real truth is that you need to recommit to being happy where you’re planted. Or make a mindset change about your current responsibilities and coworkers rather than jumping ship. Or that rather than changing jobs, you can channel the desire for feeling valued by working on that novel you’ve always wanted to write.

Before you play the why game with you career opportunities or challenges, a word of caution: your deep why for a desire may not be pretty. It may seem shallow or selfish. But the fact is, no one but you need to know every single why.

What’s really important is that by playing the why game, you get brutally honest and stop lying to yourself. Because is there anything more unsatisfying about any part of our life if we’re lying to ourselves?

Bio: Debra Smouse is a life coach and author who has been published in Time, Huffington Post, MSN, Psychology Today, and more. You can find her books on Amazon or wherever books are sold.

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