The SAGA Framework – How to Rebuild Your Life from Scratch

Shane Melaugh
November 22, 2021

SAGA is a framework I developed years ago and early in my journey, this was a major unlock for me. Like many people, I was reading self development books and doing all kinds of exercises for a long time, unsure whether any of it was working.

Once I combined Skills, Acceptance, Gratitude and Ambition, I started making real progress.

Here, I share the framework with you and lay out how I'm using it myself, to get out of the rut I've been in.

The Worksheet

The video explains the SAGA framework in detail. If you want to go deeper and see how you can apply it to your life, I've created this worksheet that you can download for free:

This document walks you through a few writing and mindfulness exercises. Note that it can only serve as a starting point, since the framework is not an instant fix. By doing the exercises, you can clarify your goals and the skills needed to accomplish them. You can also get a practical sense of the resistance and tension most of us walk around with and how self acceptance can unwind it.

How I'm Using SAGA

In my personal life, I have suffered many setbacks in the last 2 years. It has been frustrating and difficult and in terms of my personal development, I have not been at my best in a long time.

More details on how this came about are in my Norway road trip video. I've also been open about the mental health struggles that have followed me through many chapters of my life.

To get myself back on track, I am applying the SAGA method to my life again. Here's what that looks like:

Skill Focus

For me, the skill focus I describe in the video is deeply ingrained. I doubt I could get rid of it, even if I tried. So in this particular area, I am not making any specific efforts. Focusing on developing my skills (and not focusing on external factors too much) has served me extremely well in my life and I'm not about to stop.


Self acceptance is an ongoing process. Part of how I'm practicing acceptance is in this video and the previous one. I'm laying out, honestly and openly, what I have experienced. I'm being honest with you and with myself about the setbacks I've suffered and about the fact that I am not at my best.

At the same time, I am not beating myself up about it. I fully accept that this is where I am. I fully accept that some things in my life have not gone very well in recent years - and I accept that this is due in part to things outside of my control (e.g. that pesky global pandemic thing) and in part due to my own action or inaction.

There's also another important side to this: I am not catastrophizing my situation. I accept that many things in my life have gone well and still are going well. And I don't have to wait to hit rock bottom in all aspects of life before deciding to do something about it.


As ikario community members know, I have a long standing practice of gratitude writing. I'm going to contine doing my daily gratitude writing practice. In addition, I will experiment with doubling down on this.

One thing that can happen with an ingrained habit is that you start doing it automatically, almost mindlessly. When it comes to my gratitude writing, I want to bring more mindfulness to it. I want to pause for a moment and actually feel grateful. I want to make sure that I'm not just rushing through my writing exercise and then moving on to the next thing.


This is a big one for me. So much so that I'm making an entire separate video about it:

I realized that I lacked the right kind of ambition in my life. I always have ambitious goals, but I'd lost some of my drive and motivation.

My main goal (building the ikario village) is an important North star for everything I do. It's a big, ambitious, worthy goal.

But... it's too far out of reach. It's something I will be working towards for a long time. And it's something that is outward facing. It's about other people and about the "out there" world.

What I was missing were goals that are A) closer/more achievable and B) more about me. Yes, I'm saying that my goals weren't selfish enough. See the ambition video above for an explanation of this.

This is why I set 2 new goals:

  1. Reach $100M in personal net worth.
  2. Exercise 100 days in a row.

These 2 goals have given me a feeling of motivation that I haven't felt in a long time.

The key takeaway here is that ambitious goals are a useful self development tool. But you might need to tweak your goals, in order for them to really work for you.

Shane Melaugh

About the author

Shane is a serial entrepreneur with a long-standing obsession for personal development and life optimization. He has a habit of buying more books than he can ever read. During his childhood his worldview was significantly influenced by Jackie Chan movies, the Vorkosigan Saga and the writings of Miyamoto Musashi.

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