TJ3: Finding Your ‘Why’. Career Change and Personal Growth 043

Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe on your favorite podcast directory above! Hear how to find your ‘why’.

Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to Rehab Rebels on Youtube!

About How to Find Your ‘Why’

This is the third solo episode of the Transition Journey (TJ) series. Going through career changes and personal growth can be challenging. However, when we discover our ‘why’, the powerful force that adds meaning to our lives, we can successfully navigate these changes. In the latest podcast episode with Tanner Welsh, he shares his journey from hitting rock bottom to finding his ‘why’ and creating Rehab Rebels, a platform that helps professionals navigate career changes.

Tanner provides practical tips on starting the process to find our why. This includes figuring out what motivates us, what our desired outcomes in life are, and what problems we love to solve. By aligning these with our skills, we can find the intersection where passion, purpose, and skills meet.

He also highlights the importance of documenting our positive and negative experiences. By doing this, we can gain a better understanding of what gives us positive energy and what drains us. This understanding can help us navigate towards a career and life that aligns with our ‘why’.

In conclusion, Whether you’re feeling stuck in your career or contemplating a career change, this episode is a valuable resource. Finding our ‘why’ can be a powerful tool in navigating career changes and personal growth. Through Tanner Welsh’s experiences and insights, we can learn to align our purpose with our skills and chart a new course toward a fulfilling career and life.


  • Coaching by Values Book


Intro 00:01

Welcome to the Rehab Rebels podcast. Are you a rehab professional ready to transition to an alternative career? Hear inspiring stories from others just like you and learn the best ways to bridge your career gap. This podcast has you covered. Now here’s your host, doctor of physical therapy and podcaster, Tanner Welsh. 

Tanner Welsch 00:20

Hi Rehab Rebels, Welcome back to another episode. In this solo episode, we are going to talk about what is your why. This episode is for listeners who are not sure what career life direction to take, who want to have both clarity and a guide regarding career and life decisions which can lead to a better sense of purpose and more fulfillment in life. I’m going to share a story about the lowest point in my life, referenced back in episode 40, about stress and how that led me to my why and clarity with my life journey Towards the end. I’ll break down what I learned, what I would do differently, how the experience changed me and how to start your why journey to a clear, guided life direction. To start this episode, we should define well what is your why. A few definitions here I found will list all three of them and hopefully one will resonate with you and provide a little bit more clarity on what your why actually means. The first one is it is a desire or reason found in the depths of our innermost self that motivates us towards the life we desire to live. The second one what moves you and stirs your passion can be a key component to leading a more fulfilling and meaningful life. In other words, why do you do what you do? What is your core motivation and objective in life? The third one is your why. Is your purpose in life, the driving force that keeps you going when times get hard and keeps you diligent when things are going well? Everyone has a different why, although there are several common threads love, success, legacy, and security. These are just some of the main things people might articulate as their why my personal journey with the lowest point in my life. Just to give you a recap and speed up here with a little background, while I was in PT school, I was dating someone that I met a few years ago and I went to South America to learn Spanish and we were dating long distance. She was living in South America, I was in the States and in PT school and as time went on the relationship got more serious and the plan was to get married, move to South America with this woman and live half-plate of her after. But I needed to figure out, since I was approaching the end of PT school, what am I going to do about the boards? I talked to the Kansas Board of Healing Arts. They came to our class and did a presentation and I caught them afterward and I was like, hey, I’m planning on going to live in another country for three to five years and come back after that. What are you guys going to have me do? Or what are the requirements if I’m away for, let’s say, three to five years and I come back and want to practice, what are my requirements to practice in the States? And they said, well, we’re probably just going to have you take the boards again. That cleared it up for me as to my decision to not take the boards after I had actually finished physical therapy school. 


What took place in about a three-month timeframe, from May 2017 to August 2017 was I graduated from PT school, got married, moved to South America to live with my then-wife in the house of her parents, with her parents and her sister, and I had my daughter. And so, to recap here I was a new dad, new husband, living in a manless house in a country that spoke Spanish. I was not fluent in Spanish, I had no friends or family around for thousands of miles and I found out PTs only make around $400 a month there. So if you’re thinking this is a recipe for disaster, you are not wrong. Long story short, this didn’t work out, ended up moving back to the States in my parents’ basement and I had doubts about PT being a career for me from the start, even from PT school. But I need to figure out what I’m going to do with my life and what’s next, and I felt I didn’t want to let my education sacrifices and time spent to get my physical therapy degree go to waste. And this is actually what’s called and referred to as the sunken cost fallacy, which I talk about in episode 41 regarding our career options as rehab rebels. So if you haven’t heard that episode would be a good one to go back and check out. Also, this was the fastest way for me to get out of debt was to work as a physical therapist, and if I didn’t want to do it after that, I could always change or do something different. 


So what I started doing was studying for the boards, you know, five to six days a week, six to eight hours a day, and I ended up taking the test and a little side note here the test prompters were just carrying on and laughing in the background while I was taking this exam and it really ticked me off. What are you guys doing? You know, and anyway, I ended up leaving a bad review. What the heck’s going on? Anyway, a little side note there. 


I don’t know if that’s happened to anybody else, but I definitely wasn’t very happy about the experience. I took the exam and failed. At this point, it was definitely the lowest point in my life. I felt very defeated. The aspects of my life that had up control over I tried to address and I tried to do my best and I ended up failing. My marriage was crumbling, my darling lived in another country and it was just a depressing time in my life. At the time, somebody suggested getting a job any job just to get out of the house, get your mind off things and generate some income. 


So I was applying pretty much for any job and actually ended up working the night shift stocking shelves at a local grocery store in Dillon’s. This was a very humbling experience. I had an education, a graduate education, as a physical therapist, but I was stocking shelves at night. I didn’t consider myself better than anybody else. It was just a really good experience and something that I needed in my life. It helped me get out of the house, get my mind off things, and again gave me some little bit of income and was just what I needed. So I ended up doing this for a while and, after visiting a close cousin, decided I really don’t think this PT thing is for me, but again, it’s the fastest way to get out of debt. I’m going to give it one more shot and then, after this, that’s it. I was studying to take the boards and I passed, thankfully, and started working as a physical therapist. 


My very first PT job I was working, later found out was actually a really poor work environment that I referenced back in episode 40. Check that episode out. If you are in a poor work environment or you’re trying to figure out ways to reduce stress or manage stress or get out of that situation. There was something that really hit me, not even seven months after working as a physical therapist. To recap, after going to PT school, getting married, living in another country for a year, going through a divorce with a child involved my daughter and slowly working out of this lowest, most oppressive point in my life, while working 10 to 12 hours a day in a poor physical therapy work environment, I had this big realization with what I’d been doing for the past 10 to 15 years of my life. It’s this big waking-up moment, if you will. There are a few things that I realized here, and they were I was chasing dreams. I thought I wanted influence from culture, society, loved ones, these outside forces. I was convinced I was doing what was right, believing what I was told by others. I realized I was only sharpening myself as a tool to be used in a capitalistic health care system by jumping through their hoops, becoming a physical therapist, developing these skill sets and being in this economic health care system only really being able to work for someone else and not myself, and not able to escape this hourly income exchange for my life currency, which is time I knew six months into this very first PT job that I didn’t want to do this for the rest of my life. There was no way. I was just brainstorming well, how do I get out of this? What are my options? That’s where this journey started. This actually started around COVID, January to March of 2020. I started consuming information, which that poured out personal finance books and even an expensive online entrepreneurial course, because I wanted to work for myself and escape this exchange for my time for an hourly rate. 


This leads into my why. For my why, the goal is to align my values, what’s important to me, with my life trajectory, taking an active role and deciding how I want to spend my time, the kind of life I want to live, how I want to help and serve others, and making decisions to create this lifestyle and career to match. And so some things that I valued was for sure freedom, more flexibility in my life, having more time, being able to spend time with those that I love and care about, and escaping, you know, the hourly exchange for money. Also creating something that is meaningful to me and others, bringing purpose to others’ lives and myself. Those are some aspects of my why, and something I haven’t shared yet was during the first year of working as a PTI. I ended up having conversations with other rehab professionals who also knew they didn’t want to work in their current role for the rest of their lives, and actually many of them wanted to start their own businesses but, that was where it ended was with our conversations. 


Nothing progressed further. There was no action being taken to make these changes. I felt I had to do something about this. These were important conversations taking place with fellow rehab professionals and colleagues about their desires and dreams to do something different with their careers and lives, other than what the health industry is providing us. Well, how do I do this? But I could bring value to this pain point and help facilitate rehab professionals in making this positive career and lifestyle change by interviewing rehab professionals who actually took action and made this leap of faith, this jump of uncertainty and change and, after all, the proof is in the pudding right. So let’s talk to those who’ve actually done it and learned from their experiences. Really, through trial and error, over about two or three years. That’s how rehab rebels was born and created. 


Let’s break down what I learned, what I do differently and how the experience changed me. What I learned was I realized that being passive in my life had some serious consequences. Not having an intentional direction with my life, career decisions felt a lack of purpose and meaning, and taking a backseat, letting others make decisions regarding my life, definitely wasn’t the way to go. Being in a position where I was dependent on someone financially, emotionally or for many standpoint isn’t a good place to be for me and, at offset, the balance for relationship as well. I also learned that sometimes the best way out of something can be to do the thing that we really don’t want to do. I really struggled with accepting PTA as an actual career. I wasn’t confident in it, I was very uncertain and unsure about it, but this was simply a survival decision to financially escape the debt that I had from going to PT school. I also learned that there aren’t always guarantees and sometimes the most meaningful, most purposeful things that we can do we may not have all the answers and, to be honest with you, it may fail. It very much may fail. This entrepreneurial journey I’m on with rehab rebels and really trying to serve the rehab rebel community and provide value, and with what we’re doing, it may fail. I’m funding it from my main job as a home health PT, but I believe in it. It sounds crazy, but I know there’s a lot of people out there struggling and so many of us have run into so many similar experiences and situations and I just really believe in what rehab rebels is about and sharing those experiences and providing guidance and help, building community and just serving others to help them get to a better career and a better lifestyle and a better life. It’s crazy, it’s kind of wild here. 


What would I do differently? I would say definitely not putting myself in a position where I’m relying on somebody else and reducing that risk or at least having a fallback where I can at least be more reliant. If it does fail or go south, then I have a fallback on myself to where I can support myself and carry on. How did the experience change me? Definitely mindset shifts we talked about this a little bit already by not being dependent solely on someone else. Also, are the decisions that I’m making regarding my life and career? Are they aligned with my why, my purpose, my meaning and what drives me? 


Although my relationship with being a PT, as in Rocky, you know from the start, I have grown to appreciate working as a career, professional, and it’s taught me also some interpersonal communication skills that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to learn or experience. That many of the health professions it puts you in. I mean, we’re dealing with people on a daily basis, several people, several different personalities, and we develop that communication and that rapport and that interpersonal skill sets with people, which translate to everything. You guys translate to everything. In any job or whatever aspect you want to do, whether it’s related to rehab profession or outside of the rehab profession. It’s definitely a valuable skill set that can be applicable in whatever you decide to do with your life and career. 


I also realized that investing in yourself is completely worth it Through this, trying to create an online business, I had failed in creating a personal finance blog which who needs another personal finance blog? There’s so many out there. But the skill sets that I learned in creating it translated into creating the rehab rebels right, and, like I said, the rehab rebels. This may fail, but I’m investing time and skills in myself with learning how to create a website, learning how to create content, how to interview people, how to do solo episodes better, online marketing, business finance. A lot of these aspects are definitely will translate into whatever I decide to do. Wherever I go with my career and life journey, these will be able to come with me and likely be useful in whatever it is that I’m going to do next. So investing in yourself nine times out of 100 is definitely going to be worth it, especially if what you’re doing aligns with your why and your overall trajectory. 


How do you start your why? How do you start this, this why? Dialogue with yourself. The first step is figuring out what you value, what motivates you and what your desired outcomes are in life, and something I found that I heard a while ago that was really valuable is an intersection that is a good place to shoot for is when you find passion and purpose in a skill set. What that means is when you’re doing something that fills you up, that makes you feel that you’re passionate about and or brings a sense of fulfillment and purpose to you, and you’re providing a service. That is a skill set that you actually enjoy doing. Whether you’re good or not, you enjoy it. You can improve those skill sets and there’s an intersection there that is a win-win situation. Another way to think about it is no matter what we do as a job or career, we are providing a service or a product that is helping someone or making someone’s life easier or saving them time, and if you can figure out what problems you love to solve for people and use those skills to solve their problems and love working with those individuals and those people, that intersection is really where you’re wanting to be, ideally right, because it’s a win-win. You’re feeling purposeful, you’re feeling these positive emotions and feelings providing the service or product for somebody that you enjoy serving and helping. So it’s a great intersection to shoot for and that’s one way to use your why. 


There are several others too, but this is one that I found to be useful. What we can do is we can use meta-analysis to determine what our values are, how we feel about things, to get insights about ourselves. An example is during interactions, when something gets us excited, we pause. Something makes us cringe or drawn to certain people, content or conversations pay attention and start documenting them. This is a challenge. I have for you a call to action that has been very helpful. It doesn’t matter where you are on your career life journey here. It’s useful throughout your whole life. 


The challenge is find a place to easily document something easily, quickly, convenient, something I use. I use Apple products, I have an iPhone and I’m back at home. I use the notes feature because it works on both the computer and the phone and I always have my phone on me. It’s easy to whip out, click the notes and you can start documenting. My challenge for you is to create two lists. It can be on the same notes page or two separate pages. 


However you want to do it and create a list of I’m going to call it positive energy, being labeled whatever you want positive experiences, purpose meaning, things that fill you up and give you a positive sense of self and feelings. Anytime you have these feelings, these positive sensations, these positive emotions, just quickly jot down what’s going on, what’s causing this and that list of positive energy or whatever you want to title it. The same goes for negative feelings and negative energy, things that drain you. Simply jot down what it is without your phone. Click the notes. Jot down what is causing you to feel this way Over time. 


What you’ll do is you create a list of positive and negative experiences or feelings and you’ll be able to look back and use meta analysis and determine, okay, what’s really going on here. Over time, these things will build up and it’ll become more clear as to, okay, what is giving you these positive feelings and energy and filling you up, and also what is equally draining you and causing you to have all these negative feelings and emotions. And it makes it easier about which direction to go towards and which direction to go away from regarding aspects of our lives. It’s been pretty useful, it’s pretty easy to do, and something I wanted to do for you guys too, is I have a book here called Coaching by Values, and it has a list of generic values in the back and there’s a lot. 


So if you’re looking for some values that you can base your why on and some guidance in your life, we’ll just start listing them off here Acceptance, accuracy, achievement, acknowledgement, adaptability, adventure, affection, appreciation, authenticity, belonging, candor, care, challenge, commitment, compassion, completion, contribution, creativity, credibility, discipline, effectiveness, efficiency, empathy, encouragement, expertise, freedom or liberty, gross happiness or joy, harmony, honesty, humor, independence, integrity, intelligence, knowledge, leadership, logic, mindfulness, motivational open-mindedness, optimism or hopefulness, passion, playfulness, pleasure, preparedness, professionalism, punctuality, realism we’re almost done Respect, satisfaction, self-control or composure, structure, support, synergy, teamwork, thoughtfulness, trust, understanding, usefulness and wealth. There’s a bank of values that you can use and hopefully is helpful for creating your why and our next episode or episodes. I’m going to share topics around life, alignment, mindfulness, healthy environments and networks. 


I invite you to click the subscribe button so you don’t miss out on any of these solo episodes coming out, and something I’m doing is talking with listeners to better understand the depths of this community and where you are in your particular journey, and maybe you yourself you’re looking to leave a clinical job or start your own business, or you’ve started this already and you’re just struggling and running into some pain for you, some barriers. 


Well, I’d love to help you, anyway, I can. So some ways I can do that is by helping on a discovery call and thinking through your next career business move together, acting as a soundboard, discussing where you’re at, what your goals are, providing any insights and tips from my experience or the experience from others that I’ve talked to and guess I found the show. Please reach out and connect with me, either on there’s a contact tab or on Instagram at rehabrebelspodcast. You can send me a direct message on there and would love to hear from you. Thanks again for being here and listening. I hope this episode was useful and helpful and we’ll see you in the next episode. Take care. 

Outro 20:09

Thank you for listening to the Rehab Rebels Podcast. If this podcast was useful, make sure to hit that subscribe button and leave a review. For more information about transitioning to alternative careers, head to or follow us on Instagram at rehabrebelspodcast. We’ll see you next time. 

If you have not done so already, subscribe to the podcast.
This ensures that you do not miss an episode!

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top