nisrine’s workshop for working out your whys and whats


Think about your resume. Your curriculum vitae, if you will.

How much time did you spend on that career objective sentence up the top of the front page? You know, the part that starts with fancy verbs like ‘to work in an organisation that..’, ‘to be part of a team who…’, is normally in italics and ends up sounding a little cheesy and philosophical? Hardly any time, right? Why? Because you were probably more concerned with informing your potential employer of your past jobs and experience – your Whats – as opposed to your overall ‘career objective’ – your Why.

The same with life. We put so much focus on the Whats of our lives – the specific jobs, the specific experiences, the specific interactions – that we often forget to ask ourselves the all-important question of Why? Why do I want a certain career? What overall purpose will it fulfil? How will it align with the Source within me?

I forgot to ask these questions of myself at one stage. I wanted to be a famous actress and a best-selling author and a motivational speaker and a youth camp organiser and a restauranteur and God only knows what else and I just found myself getting so overwhelmed with all the choices I thought had to make. When I didn’t get that acting role or that publisher didn’t return my emails, I felt rejected and looked quickly to the next project that could fill the void. The problem was, I didn’t know what that void was. If I had known, maybe I would’ve been more selective with what I invited into my world and not so easily bummed if certain invitations weren’t RSVP’d.

So, here’s what I did.

Step 1: I made a list of all of the Whats in my life – the jobs, the hobbies, the qualifications, the skills, the experiences – that had filled me up with joy or reenergised me or lead to a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me:

  • Teaching/tutoring
  • Guidance counsellor
  • Theatre producer and director
  • Writing
  • Acting
  • Giving advice to friends
  • Learning multiple languages
  • Public relations degree
  • Travelling
  • Volunteering
  • Being a migrant living in Australia
  • Being bullied in primary school
  • Having changed uni degrees and jobs a trillion times
  • Oprah, Eckart, Deepak and co.

Step 2: Then I looked for the common denominator. What did all of these career choices or hobbies or experiences have in common? They all had something to do with:

  • Crossing borders/boundaries
  • Creativity and imagination and the unseen spiritual realm
  • Community and togetherness
  • Communicating and getting messages across
  • Working with a variety of people regardless of age or background
  • Helping people make choices
  • Making me empathetic to other people’s stories
  • Making me understand personal struggle
  • Making me see the world from a bigger picture perspective

Step 3: I then thought about each of these examples and asked myself what it was about these things that gave me joy. Why was I drawn to such experiences?

  • I liked seeing people become empowered and enlightened.
  • I liked when people were able to see things from new perspectives.
  • I liked when people became more than their histories.
  • I liked when boundaries were broken and people understood their connectedness with one another.
  • I liked seeing people coming together for a shared goal/vision.
  • I liked the feeling of doing something of service – I felt like it gave my life meaning.

Step 4: After having done all of this, my Whys – my purpose, my overall life objective – became clear as day. They were:

  • To empower people and help them see that they, and only they, hold the key to their own happiness.
  • To promote self-awareness and emotional intelligence amongst individuals.
  • To help people build castles in the sky.
  • To remind people of the power of the Universe to be able to deliver to them anything they can dream.

Once I knew my Whys, it bothered me less and less about how these Whys were actually achieved. Take the Why example of ‘helping people build castles in the sky’. Wouldn’t a chat with a close friend fulfil that purpose just as much as being the keynote speaker at a TED conference? What was the difference? There is none. My ego would prefer the latter option, but my soul, my divine being, my inner-me, knows no distinction. As long as the candle is being lit, the source of the light does not matter. Does it matter if I used a match or a lighter or the light from another candle to light the candle? No. As far as the candle – our soul – goes, it’s purpose is being achieved. And it is content. So we need to be too.

Step 4: Then, just for shits and gigs, I listed those things that never quite worked out, that never quite ‘fit’:

  • A particular teaching environment years ago was highly disorganised and not at all in alignment with their purpose and so my working there didn’t feel fulfilling or right.
  • My Commerce degree, although aligning with someone else’s purpose perhaps, did nothing in the way of making me live out mine which is why I left after just one year.
  • The reason for completing my Public Relations degree went beyond my actually wanting to work in the industry – it simply gave me all the communication tools I would ever need in the future to carry out my purpose.

No wonder these Whats felt off…they didn’t match my Whys. Doing this step made me feel good; it was a relief to acknowledge that ‘things not working out’ had nothing to do with me really or with the experience itself – it was as simple as ‘that experience, that job, that interaction’ just did not fit. And thats ok.’

Step 5: Now that I was more aware of what my divine purpose was – my Why – I began practicing the art of allowing; of letting go of the oars and waiting for inspiration to strike. Waiting for that job, project, person to come through that is going to be in direct alignment with my Why. Living a life of purpose. The more I reminded myself of my Why, the more I became aware of the little Whats that were helping to carry it out. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to talk at a TED conference and sell millions of books, but when I do, it’ll come out of an effortless inspiration rather than a blind desperation. And that will make it all feel soooo much more gratifying!


And that’s the process, friends.

So, for you now:

  1. Complete the series of questions to work out your Whats and Whys. Take stock of these so that you can begin to really start living a life of intention, clarity and purpose. Know the Why and the rest will follow. Trust me.
  2. Ask yourself before beginning any project/experience/interaction, WILL THIS ALIGN WITH MY PURPOSE? If the answer is no, have the confidence to walk away. You can be more selective, don’t be fearful.
  3. Watch the video below – he may be able to explain it more clearly than I just did.

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