My Why

The Importance of having a Why! 

Guest Blogger: Jordan Taylor

What is your why? Do you have one? Your why can help you remember your purpose or individual mission. Your why can help you stay on track when times get tough. Establishing your why is important to keep you focused on the larger meaning in the grand scheme of public health. As our days can be tedious, long, and arduous, having a why can make those days far more meaningful. For us as public health professionals, we have been hit with waves of uncertainty, emotional turmoil, and what seems like never ending challenges. Now more than ever, we need a why to help ground us every day and to get us up and going every morning. I will share my why in hopes of inspiring you to develop or refine your own if you haven’t already.

I was motivated to find my why through feelings of being lost in my early 20s. I have worked numerous jobs ranging from warehouse work, research, social work, and personal fitness training. I did not know what path I wanted to go down, nor did I know why I was working these jobs other than to pay the bills. In my social work position, I worked with women and men who experienced domestic violence and it was one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. This is the job that taught me the importance of serving and the impact that can have in your work. Ultimately, seeing the different obstacles our clients had to face just to get by daily led me to pursue my master’s degree in public health and helped me to begin establishing my why. Spirituality is a big part of my why, and service to God is at the forefront of that. Through serving God, I aim to serve people through my work and volunteering. 

My research has piqued my interest in the association between physical activity and mental health. Exercise is a haven for me that makes all other aspects of my life more enjoyable, and I love sharing that with others. Exerting energy and connecting to mind and body helps me to feel whole. Connections with friends and family, work obligations, my motivation to get things done, all get better when I have incorporated exercise. The problem with this is that I began worshiping it as the end all be all, losing the connection with the other aspects of my health. While this led to me not achieving my fitness goals, it also led to many mental and emotional setbacks. Now I cannot say I am where I want to be, but I am headed in the right direction. Those setbacks taught me to value myself enough to love me, all of me. To walk in a space spiritually that allows me to embrace the emotional challenges, and to use exercise as a tool to assist in refining my discipline and overcoming obstacles.

This post will be to challenge those who read it to uncover their why, hopefully through a little insight into mine, this can inspire you to do the same. This space is to take some time for personal exploration, education, and self-advocacy and once you have established your why, you can apply it to your work in public health. Explore how science and research can help us find common ground by connecting the different aspects to our whys, continue to educate yourself and others soundly based in factual evidence, and let your self-advocacy lend itself to advocating for others on pressing issues affecting our community. Our why is meant to keep us grounded. It serves as a reference point for when we become lost. Maybe your why relates to a job or career choice, maybe it relates to the people you serve, or maybe it relates to your family and friends. Whatever that may be, hold it close, write it down, read it, and live it. Let your why drive you to achieve short-term and long-term goals. Remember it on those days where it may feel like things aren’t going your way or everything just feels hard. Let your why be a guiding compass always pointing you in the right direction. Hopefully the information this blog will provide will benefit others in some sort of way. Through consistent engagement and bond building, we as a public health family can continue to grow and help others find their why as well. I look forward to seeing the impact we can all make in our respective paths to ultimately advance our mission of public health.

Jordan TaylorJordan Taylor is a blogger, fitness professional, yoga instructor, researcher, and student. He is pursuing his master’s in public health at the University of Memphis, with a concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences. His research interests include the association between physical activity and mental health, positive psychology and emotional well-being, healthy lifestyle behavior change, and depression and anxiety among African American males.

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