## The problem
Two years ago I started building a [life OS](www.maray.ai/posts/life-operating-system-v2) because I had a few particular problems in my life.
I wanted to change who I am.
And I thought changing one’s identity makes the most sense. That’s what everyone was doing. Improve this and that, build this and that. Therefore I started to build habits, discipline, productivity, and so on.
Although it worked, the change was not permanent.
**I defaulted to my default.**
After two years of practicing habits, improving my performance, and working on my goals, I had to still motivate myself and exert effort.
Isn’t it strange? - I thought.
Why do I need to motivate myself to work on a goal that I want to achieve?
I couldn’t understand.
To me, it was not practical. I didn’t want to practice my whole life.
I wanted to become that person I want to be. If after 1 or 2 years of building an identity didn’t transform who I am, then what’s the point?
So my new problem was the following. If changing my personality via habit building and productivity chase does not work or works only temporarily, then what does?
What is the way to become the person I always wanted to be and attain things that I cannot live without?
In my search for the answer, I stumbled upon the work of Kapil Gupta.
It immediately resonated with me because somehow intuitively I already knew that self-help books, techniques, and meditation do not solve my problems. Instead, they only provide relief of symptoms, a temporary effect.
What kind of problems am I talking about?
- Success. Why do some people become great but the majority does not realize their potential?
- Reality. What are the truths of reality? How do I see reality as it is?
- Peace. What is the way to acquire permanent inner peace? Why is my mind rarely calm? Why can I not turn off thoughts at will?
These are some of the questions that I couldn’t find answers to until I found an explanation to each one of them.
Here’s what I learned.
Instructions, how-tos, guides and techniques might be useful in mechanical and simple things. But when it comes to topics such as becoming world class athlette, attaining enlightment, or becoming great at a skill, instructions and how-tos are useless.
If instructions really worked, then anyone who would follow morning routine of a famous person would have become that famous person. Anyone who would meditate daily would have become buddha.
Billions of people meditate and yet they have not become enlightened.
Millions tried to build 7 habits of successful people and yet they have not become those people.
Don’t you find it strange?
I have no doubt that building habits played an improtant role in James Clear’s life. However, if you hear the story that lead him to write the book, he shares that building habits were almost effortless for him. It was not that he said to himself “I must build habits to solve my problems”. It came to him naturally and it assisted him in whatever he was pursuing.
And I *also* have no doubt, that people who reached the top level in their craft needed top 10 productivity tips and techniques.
So what is the truth? If prescriptions do not work, then what does?
Kapil, based on years examination and search for truth, came to a conclusion that following routines, practicing meditation, and doing X to achieve Y are a road to nowhere because instead of examining the problem (that made you seek the abovementioned instructions), you try to overcome the problem by following those instructions. And the instruction itself becomes the thing you focus on. Not the original problem.
After 2 years of a morning routines, meditation, journaling, and habit building, I was the same person I was before.
I was focused on the consistency of habit building. I was focused on improving my productivity. I was focused on building discipline. And I was not focused on the problem that led me to do all those things in the first place!
But, wait a second. What about compounding effect and incremental change? Did you have at least those?
Yes, I had an incremental change. Things became better than they used to.
Did it solve my problems?
I was still struggling. I still had the same problems.
The only way to eliminate a problem is to understand it by finding the truth about it.
Therefore the question is not “What **should I do, practice, and follow** to solve my problem?” but “What is the **problem that prevents me** from arriving at the place I want to?”
And the answer to this question lies in the **human mind**.
## The mind
Everything that exists, whether it is a particle, atom, molecule or human being generates information about its properties.
The information is read by people through 5 senses: vision, sound, smell, touch, taste.
When the information is received, your mind begins to interpret it in different ways.
The interpretation is based on several things:
When you taste something, your mind filters it through your past experience and preferences and outputs whether you like it or not.
When you receive information about a particular event, your mind filters it through your beliefs and conflicts and outputs an opinion about it.
When a person calls you an idiot, the mind filters the information through your self-image and outputs (or does not) anger.
As you can see we do not perceive the reality as it is. Instead, we see a filtered version of it.
What is the problem with it?
The information processed by the mind produces output in the form of **involuntary thoughts**.
Involuntary thoughts are thoughts that you didn’t choose to produce. They make up most of your thoughts. **Your mind generates them. Not you.** You won’t be able to shut them down at will. That’s why people meditate to temporarily have “peace of mind”.
However, the bombardment of thoughts is not the only problem. The bigger problem is that they guide us throughout all our lives because we believe them. We believe the reality that is created by our thoughts. And therefore, we make the decisions and act upon the false information.
Do you see the problem?
Last but not least, thoughts create emotional turmoil. Anger, fear, anxiety, frustration are all products of your mind.
When you receive information through your senses, your mind creates a thought. This thought creates an emotion. The emotion creates a reaction. The reaction produces behaviour.
You are under control of the mind because:
1. thoughts are generated involuntarily
2. you believe your thoughts
3. you act based on the reaction created by your mind
It’s a programmed behaviour based on your likes, dislikes, societal conditioning, desires, self-conflicts, and attachments that create your Self-image (or Ego in other words).
Okay, so why am I telling you this? What is the relevance here?
Continuous exposure to the society and the nature of human mind alter your personality and your behavior. You start to think that they are part of you: your preferences, attachments, self-conflicts, and beliefs. In reality, the image of yourself that you’ve been creating becomes the biggest obstacle.
The more self-conflicts you accumulate, the more involuntary thoughts you have.
The more attachments you gain, the more pain you’ll suffer.
The more your mind is conditioned, the more your behavior is reactive and unconscious.
Thus, you start finding solutions to these problems.
But instead of finding why your life became the way it is and embarking on a journey of cleaning it up from everything that does not belong to you, you read self-help books, visit motivational seminars, meditate 15 minutes a day, and try to generate “positive thoughts”. And when it does not work, you find something new.
And as I explaiend earlier, prescriptions are temporary fixes. They don’t produce lasting effect.
If following 5-step plan worked, everybody would become world class sportsmen, artists, businessmen, or buddha.
Do you think any of us would become Leonardo da Vinci if we follow his morning routine?
Do you think any of us would become Elon Musk if we practice his habits?
Nonetheless 99,99% of people keep practicing habits, buying self-help books, and visiting motivational speakers.
I came to a conclusion that the only way to arrive at the vision of your life, whatever it is, is through a journey to finding yourself.
Finding yourself lies through examination and understanding of every part of your life and your mind.
Successful examination and understanding remove that which you acquired throughout your life and leave you that which is truly a part of your personality and DNA.
Only then you can become free and pursue anything you wish without any effort.
That is the purpose of my system: to arrive at the place I want to through examination and understanding of every obstacle that is on my way.
## Life Operating System v3
Based on the things I learned from Kapil and my own examination, I changed my life OS to reflect the new insights.
### The system
In order to **not make** a prescription out of this system, you must examine and refine it when it does not produc a desired outcome. You must find **why** it does not work. It may be the system itself or it may be something else.
Here’s how Kapil defines the role of a system:
> “In order to have confidence in the task you have to have a system that performs the task for you and you execute that system every time even if that system doesn’t always produce the outcome that you want 100% of the time. Then you go back and refine the system.” — Kapil in the [podcast](https://youtu.be/E1T8XWx8Q2c?t=5037) with Moe Abdou.
Here are the core changes that I made in the 3rd version.
Vision → Habits → Projects → Milestones → Actions | Journaling
Vision → Conditions → Mind (Journal) → Projects → Actions
Let’s explore each element of the system to understand why I made the changes.
Vision is the place where I set destinations that I want to arrive at.
What I was not wrong about is that the destination creates the avenue. You have to know where you want to go to arrive at the destination.
If you don’t know your destination, you don’t know where to go.
For the vision/goal/arrival it is crucial to understand if you are serious about it, if the desire is sincere and what separates you from here and there. In other words, why are you still not there? The answer to this question will bring you to it like nothing else.
### ~~Habits~~ → Mind
My previous operating system was focused on adding things to my identity through habit building, journaling, affirmations, and productivity.
Now it’s different. Instead of adding, it’s largely subtracting that which hinders me from arriving at my goal/vision/destination.
Why did I remove Habits?
- I found that building habits was mechanical and didn’t produce lasting effect. I had to exert effort to keep the habits going. They did not become effortless and automatic.
- I think habits are powerful only when they come naturally, as a consequence rather than goal.
- If building habits work for you, feel free to keep building them.
Instead of building habits that felt forced and unnatural, I now examine the problem to find the solution. The problem usually lies not in the external world, but in your mind.
Examination and understanding not only remove the problem, but also expand your perception and you start to see more than you used to: new opportunities, new solutions, new ideas and etc.
If you want to learn more about perception there are two sources I can refer. The first is Kapil’s company blog Siddha Performance where he shares insights on perception and performance in sports, business and art. The second source is Mark Douglas’s Trading in the Zone book where he explains how understanding mind’s patterns can expand perception of reality.
It is incredible how two different people discovered the same truth about reality and perception.
I share more about the Mind subsystem in the private writings that you can find in the OS.
### ~~Milestones~~ → Conditions
What is the difference between Conditions and Milestones?
- Milestones were designed to subdivide goals and projects into smaller chunks. Conditions are conditions that if satisfied, make the vision become inevitable.
- Conditions help you become laser focused on what is essential for the vision. If you don’t work on the condition, you know that your vision won’t be satisfied.
- If it helps you to divide projects into smaller and more manageable chunks, you can integrate it with Projects with no problem.
- Conditions can be of type mind and reality.
### Projects and Actions
Projects remained largely unaffected as it’s a space to work on the projects to make the defined conditions become true. Since I work on different types of projects, I just dump stuff inside of the project workspace and then structure it based on the content and experience.
Here’s how my latest project workspace looks like. Nothing fancy.
Actions also remained the same. It proved to work quite well as part of the GTD subsystem and an inbox to make quick notes.
Now let’s take a look at a real example of setting a vision, defining conditions and projects.
- I want to own my time, have a complete freedom and do whatever I want to. One of the main conditions to my freedom is money. While I trade my time with money it is not possible to own the time. I am dependent and I have to spend at least 160 hours/mo for a salary. Freelancing gives flexibility and better time/money exchange. Building a business that sells a product has a much better time/money exchange.
- Vision condition: Build an agency that generates 20k/mo revenue.
- Mind condition: Since the desire to attain financial freedom is not new, **why am I still not there?**
- Mind condition: I don’t feel comfortable promoting my services. The discomfort that comes from the mind sabotages my arrival. Why?
- Project condition: Build a world class portfolio of work.
- Project condition: Provide a product or a service that has high value and is unique.
- Are any of the conditions related to the mind?
- If yes, why are they obstacles? Why do I have them? Find the truth.
- Focus on the conditions to liberate your mind from the obstacles and make the condition become true.
- Learn about the intention behind the vision.
- Focus on the conditions to make the conditions become true.
- Explore each condition to find the quickest way to it.
- Find practical information to accelerate the process.
- Watch out for prescriptions. If the desire is sincere, I’ll find my own way achieving the condition (i.e building the company).
- Capture ideas, insights, tasks, etc.
## Where to get the system
You can find it [here](https://maray.gumroad.com/l/life-os-v3).
Feel free to ask any question on Discord or Twitter.