In this post, I will give you an overview of the 5-step system I use to solve all my problems.
It's how I turned my gaming addiction into a healthy hobby, went from a toxic relationship to a loving one in 2 years, and grew from an immature 20-something into a mature 32-year-old man.
Here's the breakdown:
1. Understand Yourself
All successful long-term improvement depends on a deep understanding of yourself.
But, most people don't understand themselves very well.
They don't know who they are, what their personality is like, or what their strengths and weaknesses are. They don't understand why they act the way they do, think the thoughts they have, or live the way they do.
Without this understanding, they can't solve their problems.
They try to follow a 10-step plan, a self-help book, or an online course and hope that this will solve their problems. But because these external solutions are never fully aligned with who they are, following them rarely leads to lasting change.
That is why understanding yourself is the first step to solving your problems.
Understanding yourself takes time and effort. But when you understand yourself deeply, you gain insights you can't get any other way. The deeper you understand yourself, the more you realize why seemingly promising solutions haven't worked. Insight by insight, you assemble a clear picture of who you are, how to solve your problems, and how to create the life you want.
Moreover, the beauty of deepening your self-understanding is that it compounds on itself.
The more you understand yourself, the easier it becomes to understand yourself. The easier it gets, the more possibilities you notice for deepening your self-understanding. The more possibilities you notice, the more likely you are to discover possible solutions to your problems. The more of these you know, the easier it becomes to solve your problems, and the more problems you try to solve, the more clarity you gain.
This clarity allows you to navigate the complexity, uncertainty, and overwhelm of the modern world with increasing direction, good judgment, and purpose.
So, whenever I encounter a problem I first reflect on what I know about myself and try to understand myself more deeply.
2. Understand the Problem
The second step in my process is to understand the problem deeply.
You may skip this step because you've been conditioned to look for solutions to your problems outside of the problems.
Society, formal education, and much of the media have conditioned you to look for external solutions. They try to sell you a nice vacation, a new gadget, or your next pay raise, promising that one of these will solve your problems. Unsurprisingly, they don't. They just postpone them, try to distract you from them, or try to replace them with more pleasant problems.
External solutions rarely solve problems.
That's because the solutions to your problems are not outside your problems, they're inside them. Let me explain:
For example, let's say you want to start exercising.
You could buy new exercise equipment, follow an exercise routine on social media, or read the latest book on exercise, but it's unlikely that any of these things will make you exercise. Why?
Because instead of understanding why you don't exercise, you look for external solutions that will make you exercise without addressing the underlying problems. But external solutions are often just distractions. They distract you from investing the time, effort, and focus to understand your problems deeply enough to take the right action to fix them.
In other words, starting to exercise begins with understanding why you're not exercising. Beginning to fix a problem begins with understanding the problem on a deep and personal level.
Only with this knowledge can you take intentional and effective action to solve the problem.
This is what I mean when I say that "the solution to your problems is inside of them."
So, after growing, deepening and using my self-understanding, I try to understand the problem deeply.
3. Pick the Right Tool for Your Job
The third step is to choose the right tools to solve your problem.
By "tools," I don't mean physical tools.
I mean all the life advice, self-improvement tips, and insights you've learned throughout your life. Think of all the ideas, routines, systems, principles, advice, notes, tweets, blog posts, and everything else you've learned over the years as tools.
Now, it's their time to shine:
With a deep understanding of yourself and your problem, it's much easier to choose the right tool to solve your problem. You may not choose the perfect one every time, but you'll get much closer, faster, and more efficient at solving problems once you understand them deeply.
Look in your toolbox.
But instead of choosing what is popular or feels good, you can use your new understanding of yourself and your problems to decide which tool is best suited to solve this particular problem. Ask yourself, which tool fits your nature, fits the problem, and seems promising as a sustainable long-term solution? Then choose that tool.
At this point, the vast knowledge I've gained over the last few years of self-improvement gives me access to a treasure trove of tools for solving many different problems. Understanding myself and my problem from steps one and two allows me to choose the right tool for the problem at hand.
4. Experiment, Learn, and Adjust
The fourth step is to try out the tool that seems most promising for solving your problem.
Try a new routine, adopt a new philosophy, or do something completely different that has the best chance of solving your problem.
From the outside, this phase of experimentation may seem like you're back at square one. It may seem like you're experimenting with random potential solutions that fail.
But you know the difference.
Your experimentation isn't random. It's based on your deep understanding of yourself, your problem, and your mindful evaluation of the tools at your disposal.
This is not to say that every experiment will immediately solve your problem. It won't.
While you may hit the jackpot with your first experiment and find a solution that solves your problem, other outcomes are much more likely. You might experiment with a promising solution that doesn't work, try a solution that sets you back even further, or find that none of your tools can get the job done.
But, these outcomes aren't bad.
They teach you more about yourself, your problem, and your tools. In other words, they increase your understanding of yourself, your problem, and potential tools that may or may not help you solve it.
Then, you can use this new information to make your next approach to solving your problem much more likely to succeed.
This is one of the beauties of this system:
It compounds on itself and grows from failure. It's anti-fragile.
So at this point, I'm experimenting with the tools I think are most likely to solve my problems. If none of them work, I either go back to step one or two to see if I missed something, or I learn about other tools that I can apply to the problem.
5. Integrate Steps 1-4 Into Your Individual System
The final step is to integrate everything you've learned in steps 1-4 to create your personalized system for solving your problems and achieving sustainable, lasting and successful results.
When you solve problems from a deep sense of self-understanding, you gain an ever clearer picture of yourself. You know what works for you better than ever. You recognize what hasn't worked in the past and understand why. Then you can use your new knowledge as a solid foundation for future solutions. Slowly, insight by insight, you build a foundation of self-understanding upon which you can create a new life.
The same goes for understanding your problems.
The deeper you understand your problems, the more insights you gain about them. You begin to see underlying patterns, past conditionings, and outdated ways of looking at the world. The more you understand why those exist, are a part of you, and cause problems, the more information you have to address future problems, and the easier they become to solve.
This also applies to your tools.
The more you experiment with old and new tools, the more you learn what works for you. The more you learn what works for you, the more intentionally you can look for similar tools, learn to use them efficiently, and add them to your toolkit for solving future problems.
In essence, by following the approach outlined above, you will understand yourself, your problems, and your tools in a way that helps you create a system and a life that is personally tailored to you. This maximizes the likelihood that the solutions you use to solve your problems will work and actually solve your problems.
Instead of relying on external or random solutions, you can approach each problem systematically to find the exact, individual solution that solves it for you.
That was a lot. So here's a quick recap:
First, understand yourself as well as you can.
Second, understand your problem as well as you can.
Third, based on your understanding of steps one and two, choose the tools that have the highest chance of solving your problem.
Fourth, experiment with them until you solve your problem for good.
Fifth, integrate everything you've learned from solving your problems into your own system.
You can repeat this process endlessly:
Understand yourself, your problems, your tools, and the results of your experiments. Solve your problems to deepen your understanding. Use your deeper understanding to more easily understand yourself, your problems, your tools and the results of your experiments. Repeat ad infinitum
Like a giant flywheel, your ability to solve problems grows the more problems you solve and the deeper your understanding becomes.
This is the beauty of this system: it compounds on itself.
Now imagine the kind of life you can create if you stick with this system for a few years.