Define the WHAT so you can determine the HOW

1. What do you want to accomplish?
2. What is your desired result?
3. What is the purpose?

These three leading questions are about where you end (the goal) but they also give you the place to start. They help you define what you want to do and where you want to go so that you can create a framework of how to get there. That framework comes by using these questions like guardrails to help you plot your course and keep you on track along the way. Every decision that you make should align with your answers to these three questions.

Think about it this way

You need to first define the WHAT so that you can determine the HOW.

But that’s where many many struggle. They want to focus more on the HOW than the WHAT and when that happens the end result is never what you wanted it to be. The WHAT keeps us focused on the goal. The HOW is just about getting there but if our head is down and we’re not constantly looking at the WHAT then we’ll veer off the path and miss the mark.

Don’t put the HOW before the WHAT. Don’t get so caught up in the excitement of the “doing” that you forget why you are doing it in the first place. Run every choice through the filter of the WHAT in order to shape the HOW. The HOW can change, the WHAT should not.

As Stephen Covey said as Habit #2 in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

“Begin with the End in Mind.”

When you do, you’ll know your WHAT and then your HOW will come much easier.


BTW… I recently purchased Simon Sinek’s book “START with the WHY” which is another great resource on this topic. At the top of my post when I mention Purpose, that’s really the WHY and the WHY should indeed drive the WHAT and the HOW.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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  • Such a good word for today. Thanks for sharing!

  • Ivana Sendecka

    Hiya Daniel,
    I am absolute fan of "starting with end in mind" and I agree it is very powerful tool for accomplishing things.

    Recently I became fan of Simon Sinek, whose approach: Start with WHY makes loads of sense. Simon, puts WHY before HOW and WHAT.

    I personally use motto: Focus on WOW and HOW will unfold itself.
    So, once you know why you do, what you do, (which ideally should be, because it makes you feel and peeps around WOW), then WHAT and HOW will emerge naturally;-)

    cheers from Slovakia

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    I always assumed that a woman's waist was the narrowest part of her torso.
    Me too – that is always where I take my 'waist' measurement from. However, I do also measure at my belly-button level as well.