So, how do you solve your problem?
To solve your unique problem and get you on your way to creating a framework that incorporates useable elements and mechanics, we need to start with the three basic questions that any First Principles Thinker needs to ask:
- What am I trying to accomplish?
- What is the fundamental problem?
- What really matters?
As your problems are unique to you, you’ll, unfortunately, have to do most of the work of breaking them down into their fundamentals. But once you have the basic building blocks of what your problem consists of then you can start your journey in moving forward.
To get you started, with the above-named examples, let’s think of some questions within exercise; what is the end goal? Is it to lose weight? Is your daily life affected by your lack of physical movement? Does it matter for you in terms of appearance, overall wellbeing or something else? From there start researching and breaking down what your daily habits are, when do you have time to exercise, what type of exercise excites you the most, and so forth.
If you need more questions then ask yourself what would Aristotle, Plato or Socrates ask themselves when they were using First Principles Thinking?
Once you’ve broken the problem down and have the basic building blocks, you will be ready to create your new framework. This will give you the room for greater creativity and hopefully offer you multiple paths to travel to achieve your goal. How many paths is up to you.
And because you’ve broken it down into smaller segments you receive quick feedback. Rather than a long journey where the feedback is only gained at the very end.
It will require some determination from you, but because it is something that you’ve willingly chosen to do and have figured out how it fits in your life, you’ll have more motivation to do it. You will have a strong sense of autonomy and self-empowerment, walking your own personalized path.
To ensure you remain on the path you’ve chosen, bring in companions. Explain what you’re doing to friends and family members. This offers you a level of relatedness and a sense of community, they can ask you about your progress and you can relay your achievements and setbacks. Doing something completely alone is possible, but often feels empty unless someone is coming along with you for the ride. Shared memories and experiences are far stronger motivating factors.
The final few motivating factors that are created when you have smaller goals that affect real and direct change are impatience, curiosity, and avoidance (a good kind of avoidance).
Impatience because you want to achieve your goal as quickly as you can, to reap the full benefits. This will spur you on each day. Curiosity, because you want to see the benefits, not just dream about them. And avoidance, because if you don’t achieve each easier, smaller goal, then you’ll lose out on the final pay off and you’ll have wasted your own time. Which something you really don’t want as an end result.
In breaking something down removes the chance of paralysis by complexity. The task isn’t too overwhelming that you don’t start with it. You know each step is worthwhile and not a waste of time.
Moving away from analogy means that iterative steps based on other or older experiences are removed, and biases and prejudices are removed as well. This systematic process allows you to move towards a whole new world of fresh perspectives, without any baggage to drag you down.
The process that you will follow if you adopt First Principles thinking, to add new mechanics into your life, is in effect like peeling an onion. You are stripping away each layer to get to the core of your problem. This is your call to adventure, figure what your fundamental problem is. From there plot your journey, select your quests, overcome your challenges, and make sure they lead to an end goal that you truly want to reach.
Don’t be defeated by Analogy, and its evil minions, along with the way to your final objective. Perhaps choose more apt names for your specific issue, rivals, enemies and its pitfalls. Make sure the road you follow on your quest avoids those pitfalls. Having the knowledge and tools of the fundamental truths to your conundrum, create “support stations” that lift you up on difficult days. Ensure that the framework is holistic.
In the end, though, the work must come from you. You need to break down to the fundamentals, you need to be the hero and plan your own journey. Only you can win each small battle on the road to your epic win!
If you’re interested in other articles and pieces around gamifying life or how aspects of life are gamified then head over our Blogs section. One article of interest is how games can improve education by allowing you to fail more often and learn, rather than be punished for failing.
Very helpful article. I’ve been reading more into first principles to help with personal & business objectives.
Thanks for sharing