Kaizen Your Life
in 7 Steps
K aizen [改善] means ‘to become better through change’.
Kai [改] means ‘change’
Zen [善] means ‘good’.
The spirit of kaizen is simple: little drops of water make the mighty ocean. Or: achieving improvement by taking small, comfortable steps instead of drastic, rigorous changes.
That makes kaizen easy to apply to our own lives as we strive for continuous improvement on a personal level. You can apply kaizen to improve your mindfulness, knowledge and skills. To achieve goals. Step-by-step, little-by-little.
John Wooden once said:
‘Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time.
That’s the only way it happens. And when it happens, it lasts.’
So here they are: seven steps to kaizen your life!
Ask yourself simple questions
Dream big! Then break it down to small questions. Avoid the ‘But how?!?’ Ask yourself questions like: ‘What is the first thing I can do to…?’ or ‘Can I spend a few minutes daily doing…?’ Asking small questions helps you find the first necessary step to take. That first small step that brings your closer to your goals. At this point you may not know how you’ll get there, or how it will happen. But with taking that first small step, you are walking. In your answers to those simple questions you can find the next step, and the next step, and the next that is in the direction of your overall goals. Allow the path to be created along the way.
There never seems to be time. Even my father in law, who is retired, is always busy. There is always something to do. However, you will need time to really take the first small, necessary steps towards your goal. In other words: to take action! Review your daily schedule critically and be realistic. Where can you make some time? Discipline yourself. Make an important appointment with yourself: in that time you only do what you said you would do. It’s like saving money: if you wait until the end of the month to see what’s left to save, then nothing is left. Budget your recources in advance.
It is imperative to stay positive. Anyhow, remaining positive under all circumstances is worth the discipline to cultivate into a habit! A journey of little steps just seems so long sometimes… And then you’ll get a feeling of ‘I will never get there’ or ‘It is sooo far away!’ So on a regular basis look back at how far you’ve come already. Remind yourself every time, that all those small steps in the right direction ultimately lead to your goal. Only talking and dreaming about your goals gets you nowhere. So every step is one!
Celebrate your successes!
Reward yourself. Set milestones and reward yourself for your accomplishments. Maybe you succeeded to workout twice a week for a whole month. Or you saved that extra hundred dollars this month. Set yourself a realistic and doable mini goal and reward yourself for achieving it. But keep your reward in line with your goal. If you’re trying to eat healthier, then rewarding yourself with a chocolate cake is not such a good idea. Better to reward yourself with that delicious salad in that nice restaurant downtown.
Break down your goal
Bring your big goal down from general to specific. Outline the small steps you can take. Steps that are doable. You don’t need a complete master plan or to have all details figured out. Start with the big picture. If your goal is to read more books on personal development [general], a specific step can be to start with 20 minutes of reading per day [specific and measurable]. Do this for one year, six days a week, and at the end of the year you’ll have read 15 nonfiction books of 200 pages! Is it save to say you achieved your big, general goal? Oh yes!
We’ve all been there. You start enthusiastically. This time you’re really motivated. But somewhere on your path, for whatever reason, you end up in the ditch. You forget about your goal. What was it you want to change or achieve? You feel guilty. If you pressed ‘pause’ and messed up the process, just press ‘play’ and start over. Be kind to yourself. We are humans, not machines. But keep in mind: it’s like in Disney World. If you don’t stay in line, you never get to enjoy the ride! So get in line and stay in line!
Visualize that you achieve your goal. Visualize how you achieve it in small steps. The more you see this picture in your mind, the greater the chance that you take action and thus the greater the chance that you will succeed!
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Let’s talk some more about this!
Do you, consciously or unconsciously, apply kaizen in your life? How does it help you?
Please share your knowledge and insights! Leave them in the comment box below.
Founder of seven2success, author of ‘Daily Little Secrets to Success’ and guest blogger at TEDxRoermond, Project Eve and 365 dagen succesvol. In my mission to make seven2success the biggest platform of knowledge and inspiration for women, I want to inspire you with our content! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter! Let’s to connect! And do you want to inspire other women? Write for us!
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