The Golden Circle is a concept that has developed in the realm of planning. Two approaches for interpretation have developed and are shown below (figures extracted from the web).
The “Classic” Model (my term) works from the outside in. Define “What” you are going to do, “How” you are going to do it, then “Why” you are doing it. The emphasis is on the “What”. “How” is an explanation of the approach to the “What”. The “Why” is the objective, which defines objectives for the “what”. We can call this peeling the onion.
The “Progressive” Model (my term) looks at the “Why” as being the core of the model. There are YouTube videos from Drake Pruitt and Simon Sinek that provide some overview. Basically this model sees the “Why” as the core. You do this first. “Why” do you exist? Look at this as your Vision or long term goals. One of the arguments is that if your “What” or “How” does not work, then it is easier to redirect your efforts because your core starting point is “Why”. Upon “Why” you build the “How” and then the “What”. How do you plan to approach your goals. And the “What” defines the desired results. Look at the “What” as your Mission or present tense activities.
Using the two examples below, you can see the difference.