Uncover the Root Cause Using the Five Whys Technique

Several forest trees marked with question marks.

If you find yourself repeating the same patterns that aren’t serving you week after week, you might want to take a step back and look for deeper causes.

One of the effective ways to uncover underlying problems is the five whys technique.

You repeatedly ask the question “Why?” using each answer as a basis for the following question until you find a root cause for your problem:

  1. Why am I stressed today? — Because I have too much work to do.
  2. Why do I have too much work to do? — Because I’ve taken on too many projects.
  3. Why did I take on too many projects? — Because I needed more money.
  4. Why did I need more money? — Because the projects I’ve been working on weren’t covering me financially.
  5. Why weren’t they covering me financially? — Because I underpriced myself.

And thus, the solution to the initial problem might be to raise the prices.

Don’t immediately jump into problem-solving mode. You want to make sure that you’re solving the right problem. Once you uncover the root cause, you can find ways to eliminate, avoid, or fix it.