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5 Whys – How To Find & Fix Problems In Your Diet, Fitness, Business & Life

5 Whys Technique

The 5 Whys

The 5 Whys is a simple technique used to find the root cause of any problem you’re experiencing.

When we’re facing adversity, uncertainty or are stuck at the crossroads of life in an unfavourable situation we spend far too much time thinking of the problem, but far too little time actually thinking about how to fix it.

I’ve been able to use the 5 whys to find and fix problems I’d been stuck with for months, whether it be the failure of an online business or troubleshooting a cutting phase that wasn’t going so favourable for a photoshoot the 5 whys when used correctly can help you find the root cause of the issue.

You Can’t Fix It Until You Find It (The Importance Of Backtracking)

Every problem can be traced back to a root cause.

The fire that set the convenience store ablaze, the lower back injury you sustained while squatting, the decline of customers visiting your shop front…

None of these problems started themselves, this is where backtracking and WHY come into the equation.

Backtracking isn’t only useful for the 5 whys and problem solving, but for determining a path of action to achieve your goals too!

Tony Robbins and Greg Plitt (RIP) were big on this.

Choose someone with the life you want – perhaps they’re a business titan, a professional athlete or a word class musician.

They’re successful now, but how did they get there?

Read their biography, look at articles, find out where they came from.

Look at the steps, moves and decisions they made to get there instead of dismissing the fact that they were lucky, talented or entitled – the majority of the time you’ll find that’s not the case (take Michael Jordan for example!).

When it comes to root cause analysis, it may not take 5 whys, it may take 3, or if it’s a far more complex scenario it may take 7.

However the majority of problems can have the root cause located within the 5 Whys.

Once the root cause is found it’s up to you to take action, the 5 whys is a fantastic problem solving technique but if you don’t get off your ass to solve the root cause once we’ve found it you’re fighting a losing battle.

5 Whys Template

5 Whys ExampleHere’s how to apply the 5 Whys to identify the root cause of whatever problem you’re currently facing in life: 

Step 1 – List The Problem

On a piece of paper at the top of the page list what the problem you’re currently facing is.

Step 2 – Ask Yourself ‘Why Did This Happen?’

Underneath the problem create a heading ‘Why Did This Happen?’ next to this list the reason why the top level problem occurred.

Step 3 – Is This The Root Cause?

If this the root cause of the problem? Ask yourself if there’s any factors below causing why this happened.

Step 4A – If It Is Now You Know What You Need To Take Action On

Now you’ve found the root cause, formulate a plan and take action.

Step 4B – If It’s Not, Ask Yourself ‘Why Did This Happen?’

Underneath the previous ‘Why Did This Happen?’ create another heading with the same title, this time list next to the heading why the above problem occured.

Repeat From Step 2 Until You’ve Found The Root Cause Of Your Initial Problem

As I mentioned earlier, depending on the problem at hand it may take 2, 3, 4 or 5 whys to find the absolute root cause of your problem.

Step 5 – List The Solutions & Steps Needed To Be Taken To Counter The Root Cause

Now we’ve drilled down the problem and found the root cause it’s time to fix the overall problem by first of all fixing the root cause.

List down the solution(s) and steps that must be taken in order to succeed with the solution and counter your problem.

Step 6 – Take Some Fucking Action

That root cause isn’t going to fix itself. Now that you’ve devised your plan it’s time to execute.

Printable 5 Whys Template

Don’t want to write your own headings?

No problems. Here’s a great template to use:

5 Whys Template Download

Click here to download it.

 

5 Whys Example Scenarios From My Life

5 Whys Template

Concepts are all well and good but it’s not until you’ve seen a practical example that you can see just how effective this basic technique can be…
Here are several different 5 whys scenarios I’ve played out, after I was able to identify the root cause I was able to promptly fix the problem and get back in control:

5 Whys Example 1 – Cutting Phase

Problem

Stalled on fat loss progress, struggling to continue cutting phase.

Why (1) Did This Happen?

Not in a large enough calorie deficit.

Root Cause?

No.

Why (2) Did This Happen?

Struggling to find time to prepare low calorie meals & perform cardio.

Root Cause?

No.

Why (3) Did This Happen?

Lacking energy to cook & go to the gym in the afternoon.

Root Cause?

No.

Why (4) Did This Happen?

Going to bed too late and getting insufficient sleep.

Root Cause?

Yes.

Solutions & Steps

Ensure I’m getting at least 6 hours sleep per night. All electronics to be off by 10:00pm and evening ritual to be done and dusted by 10:30pm.

5 Whys Example 2 – Strength

Problem

Unable to progress and add weight on my flat barbell bench press.

Why (1) Did This Happen?

Feeling weak and fatigued when bench pressing.

Root Cause?

No.

Why (2) Did This Happen?

Shoulders are sore/stiff when attempting to perform the concentric portion of the exercise.

Root Cause?

No.

Why (3) Did This Happen?

Shoulders aren’t recovering sufficiently from my shoulder workout.

Root Cause?

No.

Why (4) Did This Happen?

Rotator cuff is tight/impinged.

Root Cause?

No.

Why (5) Did This Happen?

Neglecting my upper body mobility and warm-up routine.

Root Cause?

Yes.

Solutions & Steps

Ensure I’m performing my upper body mobility routine consisting of dynamic stretches, foam roller, tennis ball self massage and shoulder dislocations before each upper body workout.

What’s Your Take On The 5 Whys For Finding & Fixing Problems In Life? Let Me Know In The Comments Below!

Scott J.
Scott J.https://ignorelimits.com
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

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