The old saying “we change everyday” is meant to inspire and motivate. For most of us, the need for constant self improvement is a vicious cycle.
New Year’s Resolutions sound familiar?
Self improvement is a big market. Book stores and online retails are jam packed with ‘self help’ literature. The internet is overflowing with blogs on the very subject. Minimalism itself could be touted as ‘self improvement.’
We want to improve who we are. We want to become something different tomorrow than we are today. Maybe that is just ingrained in us as humans. Perhaps the need to become better, stronger, smarter is a primal thing. Regardless of where you exist in this world, every culture and corner of the planet has a name for this or a method.
Here, in the US, we believe in major overhaul. Go big or go home. All or nothing. A drastic, emotional jump into self improvement that, let’s face it people, NEVER actually gets accomplished. I know it. You know it. Running head first into anything usually doesn’t end well, so why do we always sprint into change? We tend to wait until the New Year, or until some big event takes place before we decide to do something. We wait until it’s accumulated until something much bigger to handle before reaching in to grab it.
It’s setting yourself up for failure, making something that could have been easy so much harder.
In Japan they have a slightly different model to run off of. Kaizen.
The act of becoming 1% better everyday.
That seems like a much easier goal to achieve than jumping all in.
So how does Kaizen help us achieve change in ourselves? Simple. Each day you do something just a tiny, itsy bit better. The idea is that by taking these small, easy to digest steps, you can eventually accomplish whatever goal you set out to do.
Kaizen (translating to ‘continuous improvement’) is used widely in Japan as a business model. Effective in getting the flow of production and everyday in the office running more smoothly; it’s easy to see how this idea can help us socially and at home.
Do one thing you’ve been meaning to be better at just a little more. For me, writing is my issue. Everyday I should write one more sentence than the day before. By getting into that habit, I will eventually become far more proficient in writing and my time management.
Maybe you are someone who wants to eat better. Substitute one snack a week with something healthy. After a while try to make it two. So forth and so forth. After some time that habit of eating healthy snakes will grow into healthy meals, and before you know it you have achieved a goal.
Kaizen is gentler than our traditional idea of goal tackling. Slower, yes, but more effective in building long term habits that will stick.
So try it out. What can the art of Kaizen do for you? What goals would you start out with?