Notes From Ed Text

Mastering the Nuances of ‘What’ and ‘How’ Can Help You Achieve Your Goals


I can’t believe I’m writing a Note about mastering the nuances between “what” and “how”–it sounds boring, right? Please stay with me, though, as I think you’ll come away with something really cool.

Mastering the nuances and subtle interactions between “whats” and “hows” can make a difference in your world. In fact, that mastery can make you an expert at effective goal-setting.

Let me start with an example of a what:

WHAT: My doctor wants me to lose 20 pounds in the next four months for my health

Pretty straightforward, right? Whats are goals.

Here are some hows:


  1. Only eat bananas for three months,  or
  2. Run 10 miles a day everyday for the next two months, or
  3. Eat bananas and drink milk while running three miles five days a week, or
  4. Go on a Keto diet and restrict calories to 1200 per day, or
  5. Do a Mediterranean diet with some exercise daily

My point is there are many hows, some more extreme than others, and also with different timeframes for results. Honest people can disagree or be confused by the choices of how, or have different personal preferences as to which one they want to do. Yet they can still agree that the what is a good idea.

A lack of mastery over these two terms (in addition to personal preferences) have given rise to a lot of conflict in the world, including–and maybe especially–political fights. Whats are generally easier to understand, but those hows… they can present so many confusing options, as well as confusing opinions!

In the Bold Life Formula I described in my book, I integrate the what and the how, with “S2G” representing the stretch specific Bold Goal (the what) and “Ap” representing the action plan and steps (the how) to accomplish the goal. (Note: “Pi” represents “why”, but we’ll discuss that another time.)

Project Bold Life Formula Effective Goal Setting

Goals often fail because people get confused about the action steps, which is why I made worksheets like the Building Block Plan and Daily-, Monthly-, and Yearly Plan worksheets.

(Remember the McCurrys, their desire to retire at 33, and their Building Block Plan? It laid out their hows pretty clearly.)

You can pick a how and fail. If that happens, what do you do? Pick another! The reality is that there are no action steps that guarantee success, and that’s what stymies some people.

Sometimes these battles can even be waged internally, with someone very sure about their goal, but unsure of which action to achieve that goal would be best.

Notes From Ed Effective Goal Setting What How

Part of the mastery of what and how is learning to deal with the many choices of how.

Earlier, I mentioned that the world is in a constant battle over this topic. The disconnect for many is that they misinterpret the actions for the goal. Or worse, they believe that if they disagree with the actions, the goal must be wrong, too. But that’s generally not the case.

Using the McCurry’s example, their what was to retire at 33, and their hows included drastically cutting down on expenses. Some may balk at living a Spartan existence, though, and instead choose action steps that involve investing in bitcoin instead of cutting down on expenses to achieve their goal of early retirement. Same goal, two very different sets of action steps. Is one set of action steps wrong and the other right? If one method fails, does that make the goal a bad one? No! You just need to choose another how.

Part of understanding the nuance is acknowledging that there is no “divine” how.

What’s your what? And which how will you choose to achieve your what? Let me know!  In the meantime, I hope you do not choose only eating bananas everyday!

P.S. Did you check out my story on Bold Business about the work-from-home vs. back-to-the-office debate? If not, check it out–it’s a must-read!

P.P.S. PROJECT BOLD LIFE: The Proven Formula to Take on Challenges and Achieve Happiness and Success is a complete system for planning your life to get what you want, and has been a top seller in three categories: “Motivational Growth & Spirituality”, “Personal Success & Spirituality” and “Management Skills”. I hope you check it out if you have not purchased a copy.

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Ed Kopko

Project Bold Life

Ed Kopko with his book Project Bold Life
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