*One of your friends asked you how you were doing. You’re depressed and tired, but you answer “I’m fine.” Why? You major in pre-med when you actually love writing. Why? You bought a new car when you were just complaining that you wanted to own a home. Why? You tweeted about how a celebrity had gained weight. Why? You were not sure about marrying a certain person, but you forged ahead. Why?

Why, in my humble opinion is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself. Understanding why is the key to life. When you know why you do what you do, you can let go of any defenses that arise because someone challenges you. When your “why” isn’t solid, it leaves you having to hide the real reason, make up a story or simply walk around feeling insecure.

Now, I didn’t say it wouldn’t cause some discomfort. As identifying and acknowledging the why could lead to an extreme amount of discovery in one’s self. Back to some of the opening scenarios. If you tell your friend you’re fine and your not, the second you have the conflict of truth versus lie, ask why? Maybe it’s because you don’t like that he or she is always happy and it makes you feel alone or less than. Truth is, you don’t know what they are. You only know what they decide to show or tell you.

When you make a decision that goes up against your value system or results in the scab being able to stay on your wound, there is usually a moment of notation in your soul. For those who forge ahead, they usually quiet the conflicted voice with a nice, rational reason for the unauthentic decision. You majored in pre-med and you actually want to be a journalist. When your soul spoke up, you may have said “yeah, but my dad would be so disappointed if I didn’t” or “I could make a lot of money in that field”. When you feel at liberty to make mention, out loud, about someone’s perceived shortcoming, why? Maybe because it somehow makes you feel better about yours.

You can actually ask yourself why?, find out the answer and then still decide to make the same decision that doesn’t line up with your core. In my mind, at least you’re not opting for the land of make believe where you pretend that you’re doing it for one reason, when you’re really doing it for another. Go in with eyes wide open.

Dig deep, find yourself, know what you stand for and make the answer to your why one that will promote authenticity and progress for you.

Monica Cost is communications strategist, brand manager and respected corporate and motivational speaker. She is the President and Founder of Evidently Assured, a brand & talent management firm.  Email her at:  [email protected]. Follow her via Twitter: @monicacost and Facebook.com/monicahairstoncost.