We are born into this world as curious little things. I am sure most of you have experienced the ‘why’ game with a child. This is where you do your best to answer their question, but they are still not happy with the answer! They respond why to every answer you give them, no matter how good you think your answer was. Usually it is the adult that gives up answering before the child gives up asking.
Somewhere along the way though, most of us lose this curiosity. At some stage we start to accept things for what they are. We stop asking why so much. This is a shame really, because we may be missing out on discovering how to be better, how to be happier, how to be a better partner to our spouse, how to be better at work, and so on.
As children grow up until adults, many of us lose our natural curiosity. I think it gets knocked out of us. Schools are well structured places with the teacher standing up front and students sitting down in an orderly fashion at their desks, surrounded by 4 walls. This continues all the way through to tertiary education. Then we get a job and the same thing occurs. There is a leader, with a whole bunch of followers. We have learned from an early age to follow orders without question. Our desire to ask questions fades into the background because we don’t like the answers, or we already know them. “Just sit down and do your school work”, “Just because”, “Because I said so”, are all common responses to our curiosity as we age. Hardly encouraging, is it?
I understand that kids and young adults need order and direction, but for this reason, we lose our curiosity as adults.
The five why’s
It is time for us to why’s (rise) up. Terrible pun, I apologise. I’m a dad now though, and it’s my duty to make bad pun related jokes. Rise again into our mindset of curiosity. The five why’s is a good starting point.
It originated in the Toyota production team, where it was used to investigate equipment failures and workplace safety incidents. It sounds like it is only useful for technical problems, but it turns out it works just as well for almost anything in life.
Why five? That has proven to be a good number of “why’s” to get to the root cause of any problem. It may be more or less so let’s be flexible. Let’s clarify with an example.
Kelly: I want to retire early
Kelly’s husband: Why do you want to retire early?
Kelly: Because I want to relax on the beach with a good book and cocktails
Kelly’s husband: Why do you want to relax on the beach with a good book and cocktails?
Kelly: Because I hate my job
Kelly’s husband: Why do you hate your job?
Kelly: Because it doesn’t make me happy anymore
Kelly’s husband: Why doesn’t it make you happy anymore?
Kelly: Because I am no longer challenged
Kelly’s husband: Why are you no longer challenged?
Kelly: Because nothing is new anymore. I have been there and done it all.
By Kelly’s husband asking his wife just five why’s, the root cause of Kelly’s reason to wanting to retire early has surfaced. Because Kelly wants to be challenged, then early retirement and relaxing on the beach may be a terrible idea for her. Luckily, she went through the five why exercise and has since found a new job in a field that she is very passionate about and challenges her every day.
You can ask yourself anything regarding your life:
Why do I want a new car?
Why do I want to travel?
Why do I not feel happy at my job?
Why can’t I save money?
Five why’s will help to seek clarity in almost any aspect of your life you think deserves extra attention.
Some commonly dispelled and widely held beliefs
You should go to university and get a degree
You should buy a house
You should work all your life so that you can retire on time
You should find a secure and steady job, instead of following your passion
You should buy as much house as you can afford
You should pay off your mortgage as quick as you can
You should get married and have kids
This is just a few examples of things society tells us we should be doing. Most of us assume it is the best thing for us and perhaps the only way. But maybe it isn’t.
At least by questioning more we can find out for sure if it is right for US.
After asking why to the above examples, you may find that it is better for you:
To go straight to work or travel, and not go to university
To rent a house, instead of buying.
To save hard now so you have the option to retire early
To take longer to find a job that you love, instead of being stuck in a reliable job you hate
To buy a house that is well below what you can afford because it works for you and suits your lifestyle
To invest in shares, instead of paying down the mortgage
To get married but not have kids, or not get married at all.
There is no right or wrong for everyone, but by at least asking the question, we can get to our own ‘right ‘ answer that suits our needs. It may not be the popular consensus or opinion, but it is ours. Otherwise we may end up living societies perceived idea of life, instead of our own. It does not have to be that way. That is not the path to happiness. If you look deep within I am sure you can find that curiosity from your inner child.
The information contained on this site is the opinion of the individual author(s) based on their personal opinions, observation, research, and years of experience. The information offered by this website is general education only and is not meant to be taken as individualised financial advice, legal advice, tax advice, or any other kind of advice. You can read more of my disclaimer here
Any questions? Maybe you have five 😊 Comment below.