Ok, I know. Everywhere you go, someone is talking about finding your purpose, your Why. Of course, some will argue that it is a cliche or a self-help buzzword. And maybe so.
Finding your Why is what fuels you, especially when times are hard, or you lose your way. And our purpose can change when it no longer serves us as it did for me.
Finding your Why through reflective practice requires you to dig deep into those areas and look at the positive and negative experiences that shape us. You have to be willing to go there as ask yourself...
What experiences (good and bad) have shaped who you are?
What are your values, and how do they shape who you are and where you want to be?
What are you drawn to doing?
What stresses you or scares you?
Describe a time during your life or your Ph.D. when you were vulnerable, resilient, and grateful. How did that shape who you are?
What do you have to share with the world?
What is about your Ph.D.experience that excites you?
How do you visualize your life once you have completed your Ph.D.? Describe in full detail.
What has your Ph.D. experience taught you about who you are and where you want to be in the future?
I could go on, but you get the idea.
As you answer these questions, they will lead to more Why questions. So do not be afraid to jump down that rabbit hole. Remember, you are like that toddler trying to understand your world. As you reflect, you will find recurring themes (sorry, quant folks, this is a qualitative exercise!). These themes will help lead you to your Why.
Up next, drafting your Why in concrete terms.