Five Whys: The Secret to Setting Effective Goals

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  • 02 Apr 2024
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Do you have a great desire to succeed in life but consistently fail? If so, you should be introduced to the "five whys." 

Determination and intention are not sufficient. If you want to achieve the stage you've always wanted, you'll need to improve your goal-setting method. The five whys are all about creating practical, achievable goals. 

Continue reading to learn more about this strategy and how you, too, may benefit!


What Are the Five Whys?

Let's start by explaining what the five whys are. It's not that complicated. The five whys are simply five questions with reasons. The objective is to delve deeply into whatever is going on in your mind.



The five whys method is an investigative technique. Imagine you're a detective seated in front of a prospective suspect. You doubt yourself in the same way that you question every single answer they give. 

Of course, you are both the offender and the detective in this case. So don't try to fool yourself. Be extremely honest and upfront. The answer to one question should lead to another, until you arrive at a definite conclusion.

Being honest about your genuine intentions is a critical component of developing good goals. Unless you listen to your true self, you will never know why you want to achieve your goals. Because the genuine aim will be unclear, your entire road will be fraught with obstacles. What will that accomplish? It will not only prolong the process and tire you out, but it will also raise your chances of failure.

The five whys are inquiries that differ depending on the situation. The specific questions will vary depending on your responses and aims each time. However, the intention is always the same.

You wish to learn more about the reasons for your goal. You may believe you know the solution, but once you begin digging 



Begin with the fundamental question of what your goal is. The five whys will follow the major question. 

The first why should address why you believe you have this aim in mind. Will it provide you emotional calm or financial stability? Or is it simply a hobby you want to pursue. 

Next, consider its importance. Why did you select this goal? There are certainly other different methods that can meet your requirements. 

For example, if you want to pursue a hobby, you can choose painting, music, dance, and a variety of other activities. So, why did you chose one of them above the others?

The third reason is an extension of the importance. However, you will learn how to focus on the ways in which your objective has a direct impact on your life. Why is this aim going to be a safe bet for enhancing your current situation? 

Moving forward, consider why you are unable to reach your desired outcome without this aim. Here, you must determine why this objective completes your life or fills a void.

Finally, consider why this objective will help you feel better. It is understandable that if you are striving to do anything, you expect it to make you feel better than you already do. So, why will a new interest, financial security, or mental calm increase your enthusiasm for life? 

Once again, these questions are not overly rigorous. You can customize them based on your needs. The essential thing to remember is to fully examine oneself and leave no doubts.


How to Implement the Five Whys?

You now have a general notion of what the five whys are and the types of questions you should ask yourself. To help you comprehend, let's look at an example of how to apply this strategy in real life.

John is a man in his 30s. He has a solid job with a well-known company. He lives alone in a rental apartment, takes public transportation, and leads a typical American social life. His wage is adequate to allow him to live a comfortable life.

However, John has been considering launching a side business. He will launch a start-up from home, run it online, and gradually expand as the firm grows. 

Why does John need a second source of income? 
Why can't John meet his financial needs with his pay? 
Why did he choose a business over numerous other options? 
Why is today a good time to start the business? 
Why will having a side company make his life easier and better? 
John will answer each question one by one. As he travels, he may come up with a few more reasons. But at the end, he'll have a clear image of what his needs are and why he chose this course.



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 during the coronavirus outbreak, John was concerned that he would lose his job. What if a comparable disaster or other tragedy causes John to lose his work, especially since he has children to feed? That's when his business will provide him with enough money to live his life without worry. 

John will have all of the answers in mind, so he can create a strategy accordingly. He understands that his goal is to create a running business in a few years. So, even if the business isn't profitable for the first six months, it won't be a problem.


Converting the Whys to Step-by-Step Goals

You no longer have to battle with mental conversations. If you're just getting started with this strategy, consider employing a flow chart.

Even if you performed the questioning in your head, it is advisable to jot down the main points. It will aid you in the second stage of the process. Having answers and clarity isn't enough. You should also make use of this information. 

In the instance of John, he understands that he requires a second income, primarily for his future. So it won't matter if anything he does takes time to earn money.

At the same time, he understands that he just needs this income as a backup. His daily expenses can be readily met with this pay. However, the extra money will go into his savings, which he plans to utilize in the coming year to pay for his house, car, and wedding. 

Because his plan includes the prospect of quitting his job and relying only on the business, he understands that he must prepare something that will be profitable in the long run and not simply a one-time occurrence.



Based on the five whys and the analysis, John's first priority will be to explore his possibilities. He does not have enough time to take on a second job, so starting his own firm is the only option. Based on his investment budget, he must look for something that can be run online by one person initially but has the potential to expand into a brick-and-mortar business with several staff. 

His next goal could be to set up the website. If he sells a material product, he will need to set up a warehouse. Furthermore, delivery services and other elements must be investigated.

Next, he can include enough time into his schedule to work on his business. As John progresses, his goals will shift correspondingly. 

If you start thinking and planning like John, you'll be able to effortlessly establish effective goals, solve problems, and restructure your life for increased productivity.


Bottom Line

The five whys are simply extra steps in the process of creating goals. Everyone has heard of SMART objectives, but only a few are genuinely successful in developing them. 

With the five whys, the entire process will become more easier and more efficient. It's simple to implement and takes little time. Simply listen to your inner self to ensure that anything you do provides you the satisfaction that we all seek!


More Tips on Setting Effective Goals

  • How to Set and Achieve Goals Successfully 
    The Science of Setting Goals (And Their Effect on Your Brain) 
    Setting personal goals makes you a better achiever.
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