The fastest way to ignite your dreams is by taking a small step every day in the right direction.
Making bite-sized changes avoids overwhelm, and you can really see progress when you reflect with your journals or meditation.
How many times tried to make big changes all at once? Or maybe you decided to make too many small changes all at once. Chances are it didn’t last long.
We only have mental energy to make decisions. And if we use it all up too quickly, we have no more for the rest of the day.
Kaizen Isn’t Just A Cute Nickname
Kaizen is the Sino-Japanese word for “improvement” or “change for the better”
There’s been a whole philosophy around making tiny improvements towards your goals. And it’s usually meant to refer to continuous improvement with small changes.
The two types of Kaizen are flow and process.
Flow kaizen looks at a whole system. Originally it was used for business systems. But you have your own systems even if you’re not conscious of it.
You have a system for waking up in the morning, one for eating, and another for how you deal with conflict. (and lots lots more)
Process kaizen looks at one single step that you want to improve. An example could be how you lift weights. Or it could be how you run a meeting.
The key is to look at how to eliminate waste.
Why We Need Kaizen
Your brain adapts it can actually change shape according to how many neurons fire together. If you repeatedly do one thing followed by another those two experiences become tightly linked in your brain over time.
These connections become myelinated. That’s a big word meaning the tendrils get insulated so that the signals can travel faster along your neurons. You also grow more nodes of the connection points.
Eventually you no longer think about the association. When you do task A, it automatically triggers task B.
A friend had three close friends in high school. In her brain, they were collectively called JimDaveKen. And much to her she couldn’t remember the individual’s name if she saw them separately.
But back to Kaizen.
You will create better brain connections when you make choices. You also will be able to make more lasting changes with your habits.
There are a few reasons why this is true. The first is that nobody really likes to do hard work.
We like to believe that everything can change in a single moment. So that’s why you can get swept up in the idea of making lots of money overnight or losing lots of weight quickly.
But it doesn’t work in practice.
So see where you want to go and slowly move to trick your brain into not freaking out.
Get More For Less
There are two additional concepts in Kaizen. They are force multipliers and automation.
A force multiplier is any tool that allows you to get more done in less time or with less effort.
So if you want to eat healthier, but don’t have much time to cook, you could look into supplements or meal replacement shakes to help you.
Automation is what you think. You set up a process so it’s automated. It doesn’t have to be software. It could be that you lay out exercise clothes every morning so you automatically put it on, and then go work out.
Automation is taking the thinking out of it.
Knowing When to Throw It Out
Part of continuous improvement is also knowing when to get rid of a process entirely and starting over.
Have you ever worked at a company and asked why something was done a certain way? And were you frustrated when you were told it was always done that way?
It’s okay to walk away from things that aren’t growing and improving.
You may want to rethink your strategy to achieve your goal. Perhaps you’re trying to improve the wrong processes.
Igniting Your Health
Want some easy ideas to ignite your health using small changes?
Instead of telling yourself to go to the gym for an hour every day, commit to doing 20 pres ups every morning. Then after a week, add in something new that’s quick and easy.
Instead of sever dieting, skip your morning latte.
If you really want to follow the kaizen practice, you should be evaluating how you eat over the whole day. Then you can identify areas that you could slowly improve.
One example may be that you enjoy a processed frozen entree for lunch. You could look into replacing that with a pre-made salad. And eventually change to where you’re making a healthy lunch the night before so you can grab and go in the morning.
All of our habits are mental, not physical.
So you need to remember that your energy is a finite resource.
If you’re trying to change too much at once, you’re burning yourself out. And this could lead to low energy or even depression.
So spend some time looking at your routines this week. You may even want to journal about them.
For example, if you spend a certain amount of time cleaning house or doing laundry, and you’d like to free up that time, price out a housekeeper.
Then you’d be automating some tasks and it would give you time to go to the gym or cook healthier meals.
Or you could schedule 5-10 minute bursts each day where you clean one thing. Then your home stays cleaner and you spend less time doing the cleaning.
Ignite Your Wealth
Personal finance is a great area to improve using kaizen.
First, you need to have an accurate view of your current system. If you’ve already tracked your finances and created a budget, then you’re ready to go.
To create a more efficient budget, you need to regularly monitor and identify areas of improvement.
Online financial programs like Mint can be great at helping you track what you’ve spent, and identify upcoming bills.
An example of how you can slowly improve is that you evaluate what you’re purchasing. Perhaps you’re buying a premium brand of rice. Ask yourself if that extra cost is worth it, or if you could be happier with a cheaper brand.
You may eventually decide to replace rice with cauliflower rice or quinoa on occasion to boost your nutrition.
Use kaizen to also slowly build up savings for emergencies. Taking out $5000 could seem impossible. But taking out $10 each week will add up over time easily.
My Final Thoughts
I think working to continuously improve your life is a wonderful concept to apply regularly.
How can you slowly improve your life?
Is there one area where you’re itching to see a big change? If so, that’s where you should start.
Just remember to start slowly.
And journal your feelings. Meditate on where you want to go, and listen for inspiration on areas to work on improving.
I think one of the best parts of kaizen is knowing what to get rid of. Often we hold on to thinks far beyond their usefulness.
Leave a comment and let me know what you’re working on today.