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What's Your Why?

When you are clear about your “Why” it becomes your North Star

Guiding Star

If you are clear about your reasons for doing something and stay true to your “Why”, it will guide your decisions and actions and help you stay the course when you face challenges.

If your Why is truly aligned with a deep sense of purpose and service, it will fuel your resilience and determination as you move forward.

My "Why" helped me to stay on course over the last very challenging 8 months.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans *

Last September I shared my thoughts about training to become a Pilates Instructor and at the time I planned to write a few updates as I progressed to share my experience with you. I have a wry smile as I think of how simple this seemed back then. I imagined having time to reflect on my learning, what it meant to me and how I would put this into action to keep moving towards my goal. What I got instead was a tough reminder that my years of training and experience helping others navigate challenging phases in their lives, do not make me immune from these myself.

Two weeks after I committed to training, my husband found out he needed open heart surgery to replace his aortic valve ... and time was not on our side.

Doctor explaining heart surgery

Instantly our world shifted and we were thrown into an unfamiliar one filled with tests and discussions with doctors as we scrabbled to understand options and implications at an uncomfortable speed.

My husband’s wellbeing, preparing for his surgery and understanding and planning aftercare became our number one priority.

Overwhelming data

When faced with our own mortality, and those we care about, and need to take decisive action to ensure survival, it can trigger a tsunami of emotions. This is not an ideal state to be in to think calmly, make sense of statistics and understand all the new medical terms hurtling at you daily. What I learned for sure was, when I am riding that emotional roller coaster, coaching myself and supporting those I love through difficult times, I have no capacity to write about the experience. The best I can do is be clear about and focus on my priorities and hold true to my intentions about who and how I want to be despite the difficulties and potential to become overwhelmed.

Deciding to Keep Going

I could have easily decided to back out of the training at that point. I could have rationalized it to myself any number of ways – Its just not the right time … It’s a sign I should be focusing on my family … I won’t be able to cope … its not a priority – but I didn’t.

My decision to train had been taken with a great deal of care and thought in calmer times, which made it easier to stick with, despite the unexpected challenges. Before I committed to training, I was clear how being an instructor fit with my sense of purpose and would provide a complementary way of helping the people I work with to enjoy their lives more. I was clear about my “Why” and how my new skills would be put into service for the benefit of others, whilst providing me with an opportunity to grow and learn.

Too often people make decisions to undertake training based on what they will personally gain such as more earning potential or status or to be someone their parents want them to be. This motivation can get you so far but will be a heavy lift if it doesn’t also align with an inner sense of purpose to both guide and fuel you when it gets tough.

When something is missing in your life but you don't know what

You can feel the difference as external motivations (material gain and approval of others) provide fleeting satisfaction when you achieve your goals and often leave us with an empty feeling and a need for more.

Joy and fulfillment

Internal motivation (based on personal growth and service to others) fulfills you and provides lasting satisfaction as you do your part to improve the lives of others, and learn more about who and how you want to be in process.

It’s a light that never goes out.

Reaching out for Support

I knew it would be so much more challenging than I had anticipated to keep up with the training. I would most likely miss some classes and be too distracted to focus and practice at times. In truth I didn’t know how I would make it work but I had confidence that I would find a way. I shared my concerns with my teacher, my classmates and close friends and trusted that with grace, flexibility and a good deal of support we would find a way to make it work between us.

I am happy to say that we are indeed doing that. The how and the learnings are for another time as there is much to share. For today I wanted to take a moment to let you know we achieved a major milestone.

Celebrating the Wins

On Friday evening we celebrated the Graduation of the Pilates Centre of Cincinnati Class of 2023! All four students, and our teacher Sheila Kuhn, made it through the formal training and we got together with studio owner, Kelli Green, for a lovely evening at my home, to celebrate our collective achievement. The care, support and encouragement we have given each other throughout the course has been amazing and I am so happy to be part of the PCC family as we continue to share that same care, support and encouragement with our clients.

Pilates Instructors

What made the evening extra special for me was that my husband, now fully recovered from his surgery, and as fit as ever, cooked his “legendary” Chicken Ruby, served drinks, took photos and cleaned up the kitchen while we relaxed as the sun went down. He was a star.

A Heartful of Gratitude

The list of people to thank who have cared for and supported my husband and I over the last 8 months is huge and my heart is truly full of gratitude. To the highly skilled medical teams for their expertise and compassion and everyone behind the scenes that make that possible; family and friends for their love and time; my coaching clients for their patience and understanding. To Sheila and Kelli for their faith in me and the generosity of the other instructors who have shared their experience and knowledge as I fumbled through teaching practice. And, of course, to my husband for taking care of himself so he can continue to care for me and our family and encourage us in all our endeavors.

Neil Hornsby

In this moment, as I am thinking about our graduation, I am also grateful to my classmates:

Christy Sweeney, Katie Binzer and Liz Goodrich, for their openness to sharing their insights, challenges and understanding along with squeezing in time on Sunday afternoons to practice, so we all moved forward together.

Too often on courses there is an unnecessary and sometimes harmful sense of competition amongst students. I think in part it comes from a sense of scarcity – a belief there can only be so many jobs so you must be better than everyone else to get ahead. What I experienced with the class of 2023 was a real sense of camaraderie and desire to be collectively as good as we could so we could provide our future clients with the best possible service to meet their goals, delivered with the level of care and attention to detail that the existing clients at the Pilates Centre of Cincinnati already experience.

We were, and continue to be, guided by our sense of purpose and desire to serve through our personal growth not our personal gain, as each of us follows our own North Star.

What new training or change are you considering?

If you are considering a new undertaking, are you clear about your “Why” and will the achievement fill you up or leave you empty and searching for the next thing?

If you aren’t sure and would like to discuss this to get some clarity before you commit, or if you are wondering why your current endeavor isn’t as enjoyable or fulfilling as you imagined, please reach out.

* John Lennon, Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) 1980

As always, if you are interested in understanding how therapeutic coaching can help you to create the life you want please connect with me at

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