Know your ‘why’: make achieving another qualification easier

By Kat Knights - writer, tutor and mentor at Professional Academy

Being successful looks tantalisingly easy from the outside looking in. One of the reasons people make success look so easy is because they’ve crafted a clear plan and executed it on a consistent basis. But there’s another reason driving that success. This blog will delve into the importance of knowing your ‘why’.

What was the last goal you set yourself and did you achieve it?

If the answer to that question is, ‘no’, then there’s a reason your performance didn’t meet your expectations.


Lack of time – it has been said that we underestimate what we can achieve in a year and overestimate what we can achieve in a week. When you aren’t honest about how long you need to spend on your goals you end up finishing each week on the backfoot.

Procrastination – we live in a world filled with distractions and this can make it increasingly difficult to get started. Emails and chores will always be there and if they feel easier to complete than your goal then you’ll never get started on it.

Lack of organisation – a lack of planning and clear direction leads to ambiguity and inaction.

Self-doubt – goals are challenging but sometimes that challenge can make us doubt our own ability which lowers our confidence levels.

Wrong environment – we are the product of our environment and we respond to what we are surrounded with. Work only happens when you’re in the right place to do it both physically and mentally.


If you’ve nailed timing, procrastination, organisation and your environment but you’re still missing your targets then there could be a deeper reason driving your failure.

In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, US author and speaker, Stephen Covey states that one habit we should practice is to ‘begin with the end in mind’. Many of us do that when we launch into new endeavours. But the mistake we make is thinking that the ‘ end’ i.e. the outcome is inevitable. When you focus on the finish line you overlook what’s launching you off the start line in the first place. That’s your ‘why’.


Your why is your fundamental reason for committing to something in the first place. Let’s say it’s a qualification. You’ll be more likely to stick to your studies if your motivation is internal (‘I’m doing this because I want to be better at X’) than if your motivation is external (I’m doing this to impress my co-workers’).

Motivational speaker, Simon Sinek, says we should all 'start with why' and be clear on why we do what we do. Sinek’s 2009 TED talk centred around the importance of organisations discovering their ‘why’, before thinking about their ‘how’ and ‘what’.

This approach can be applied at a person-specific level too, especially when it comes to studying for a qualification and it’s helpful to think of three concentric circles.

It works like this:

  • Why - this is your fundamental purpose and reason for studying
  • How – this is the process (study plan) you will follow
  • What – this is the goal (qualification) you are aiming to achieve Ref: Simon Sinek


  • Clarity of self – when presented with a problem or challenge you will know why you react to something and why you feel the way you do because it will stem from your ‘why’.
  • Motivation – knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing is motivating because it helps you see the bigger picture and to pull away from the pressure you might be feeling in the moment.
  • Decision making – you’ll make better decisions that are clearly based on your ‘why’ rather than working on gut feelings.


Get thinking about your current or next qualification you’re planning to study and ask yourself what your reason is for doing it is. Ask yourself this question three times.

For example, you might choose to study to improve your marketing skills.

Why 1?

So you can improve your career.

Why 2?

So that you have more money.

Why 3?

So that you can create a better quality of life for yourself in the future.

Write down your questions and answers and keep them somewhere handy. Look at them every day to re-set your mind and keep yourself on track. By taking this approach you’ll find qualification success comes to you far more easily in the future.

If your 'why' is improving your career and boosting your confidence and professional development, a qualification could be the perfect step for you. Professional Academy offer a range of marketing, management, and sales courses with flexible study options to suit you. Get in touch with the team to find out more, complete our entry level assessment to find your ideal course, or download a prospectus today.