After solving a problem there is a gap. To bridge that gap it is necessary to have a framework on which you can hang your just found new knowledge. Without a framework the new knowledge is maybe or maybe not stored into your memory, but you will have difficulty to retrieve it anyway.
Usually you don't work consciously on your framework. People differ. If you put much effort in the solution, less energy is left to bridge the gap. If you often fail to bridge the gap, you don't learn from your experiences anymore. When that's the case, when you plateau, it's time to start to work consciously on the framework.
It's very unlikely that you can build a referential framework from scratch without aid. Life is too short for that. You must base your framework on the work of our predecessors. The easiest way is to copy the framework of a coach. Without a coach you have to gather little pieces from grandmasters where ever you can find them.
Before you start to work consciously on your framework, you have build little pieces of the framework that have no relation to each other. A few tactical idea's here and there, some positional knowledge, openings lines and some endgame knowhow. How to build a framework?
First the balance must change between solving a position and bridging the gap. It is not at all sure that the time and energy to find a solution to a problem is well spend. That may or may not be the case, but in any circumstance there must be considerable time and enregy devoted to bridge the gap. How does that look like?
I have spend about 6 months to study pawnendings intensely. Yet the pawnending of yesterday at first sight looked like a complete mess to me. Not before I had started to randomly calculate variations I had any clue what the position was about. Maybe that is difficult for you to imagine, but that is how I experience it. I guess that everybody has different areas where he feels not at ease/lost. How can it be that after 6 months of study I still drown in a pawnending which with hindsight is simple?
All the time I have focussed on details and solutions. But I didn't work on bridging the gap. Hence the knowledge I gathered is difficult to retrieve. In order to bridge the gap you have to ask yourself "what is needed that I will recognize this position in the wild?" What is it's essence? How does it relate to the rest of the game?
This example is limited to pawnendings. But the same is true for any problem.
So there is:
- The solution of the problem.
- The creation of a framework (copy from a coach or GM's).
- The hanging of the solution on the framework (bridging the gap, make sure you will recognize similar positions in the future)