Begin with Why vs. How-To


My experience in working with a wide variety of individuals and businesses has been that far too many people today have become obsessed with their search for “how-to’s”, especially as it applies to self-help. I think the title of the late Brian Klemmer’s former bestselling book “If How-To’s Were Enough, We’d All Be Skinny, Rich, and Happy”, although humorous, provides a thought provoking way to consider the appropriate application of how-tos. 

Please don’t misunderstand me, I believe we all search for techniques, tips and tricks, or skills for “how-to” make lots of everyday tasks easier and more efficient and this is frequently a worthwhile endeavor. However, there are also many people who are discontent with their lives and are embarked on a never-ending quest to find that one how-to that will cure all of their problems, real or perceived, and make ALL right with the world. Our world is literally saturated with a plethora of self-help information on how to do virtually everything one can think of. This has influenced many people to read one how-to book after another and or they attend as many seminars on “how- to’s” as possible in an attempt to achieve the promise of a more fulfilling life. 

Many people, in their “quest to be better”, appear to focus on finding or fixing something that is considered missing or broken often without knowing what it is and or why. Worse yet, they often want quick fixes and are frequently unwilling to put effort into truly understanding the root cause of their discontent. I have personally learned that applying how-to without the consistent application of the correct personal commitment that comes from a sound knowledge of what you should do and why, will frequently lead to less than desirable outcomes. If “how-to’s” were enough, we could simply teach others how to do anything, everyone would be a good at it, and we would all experience eternal bliss.

I believe the most important consideration in determining our path to leading an authentic and fulfilling life is not necessarily what desires we have and goals we set (what we think we want) but what really motivates us towards those goals (what we really want and why) and the commitment to then pursue them. If you challenge my premise then why is it that so many people who pursue how to are still often discontent?

By placing more emphasis on what we want and why and then committing and honoring that commitment, we better equip ourselves to benefit from the appropriate how-to.

Thanks to Eudaimonia’s contributing editor Stan Miller

photo borrowed from Rebecca (Becky/Bex)

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