I was recently introduced to the philosophy and practice of Kaizen. Kaizen is the Japanese word for “continuous improvement” – the idea being that big results can be achieved through small changes made over time.
Kaizen is most widely practiced through organizations (such as Toyota) and serves as an important driver for an organization to achieve long-term success and maintain a competitive advantage.
The same philosophy and practice can be applied to your daily life. Oftentimes we fall into an “it’s all or nothing” mindset, which unfortunately limits opportunities for growth. I know that I catch myself doing this. For example, I’ll make a goal to go to the gym 5 times a week, but once I miss a day or two, then I stop going to the gym all together. What I need to remind myself is that even if I can get to the gym once a week (considered a small achievement), it’s better than not going at all.
The wonderful thing too about applying Kaizen in your daily life, is that the people around you (your family, friends or coworkers) will start to notice and may even start to make changes themselves. I heard a story about a woman who decided that whenever her husband returns from work, she would drop everything she’s doing to greet him at the door to welcome him home. After doing this for a while, she noticed that whenever she was about to leave home, her husband would stop what he’s doing (like watching TV) to say goodbye to her properly.
It was such a sweet and encouraging story and it inspired me to apply Kaizen in my life. I’ve decided to take the following small steps to improve my well-being and happiness.
I’ll called it Kaizen Part 1:
- Take the stairs whenever possible.
- Play my guitar for 10 minutes at least 2 times a week (right now I don’t play at all!).
- Take a fitness class once a week at minimum.
- Make at least one kind gesture every day, like giving someone a compliment instead of thinking it.
There are many MANY more improvements I’d like to make in my life, but to avoid feeling overwhelmed and to ensure I set myself up for success, I plan to gradually apply Kaizen in my life.
Which areas in your life can you apply Kaizen?