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Kaizen – The Art of Continuous Improvement


Welcome to Japan and to the art of continuous improvement – Kaizen. Kaizen per se is a Japanese Business Philosophy – it’s a tool to improve quality, productivity, safety, and workplace culture. So how can this help in lifestyle improvement if it is a business concept you may wonder. Let’s take a look at it shall we?

Kaizen is derived from two Japanese words – Kai (Improvement) and Zen (Good). Kaizen the term translates into “continuous improvement” but a version of it I prefer is “change for the better”. I like to think by practicing Kaizen we change for the better. Becoming better versions of ourselves, opening up to new possibilities and letting go of unwanted baggage.

It’s not easy to make drastic improvements to your life, it takes time and consistency. That’s why Kaizen is perfect for everyone. It’s a philosophy that allows slow but consistent change to improve your lifestyle.

Kaizen Steps for Lifestyle Improvement

1. Evaluating your Life:

It simply means thinking about your life and listing down things you would want to change or improve. Have you always wanted to play the piano? write it down. What about going jogging? Write that down as well. Note down what you would like to add to your life to make it more interesting, fulfilling and joyful. It can be absolutely anything that you would like to change about yourself – wanting to learn self-control, wanting to learn to socialize, wanting to get different job – it can be absolutely anything. Write it down!

This is just the first step so don’t throw that piece of paper away or keep the list hidden away on your phone. We are going to make use of it in the next step.

Self Evaluation List

2. Start with achievable goals:

Just because you have a list now does not mean you will automatically be able to put your life in order but you definitely have a starting point now. Choose something from the list that you know mentally you will be able to achieve and physically your body won’t refuse. Choose something that seems fun and doesn’t repel you. This is important because tasks that are bothersome make us quit more easily.

Small victories are what we need in life to achieve the bigger ones. When you start small, you train your mind and body to understand that you will be able to achieve so much more. For those of you who feel comfortable with a challenge, choose your demon to battle. A huge problem for a lot of us is feeling like we haven’t achieved anything. The feeling of not having accomplished anything and makes us feel lethargic and tired. So break down the list you’ve created into pieces:

Breaking down List

3. Monitor progress

Keeping track of your progress can boost your confidence. Like for example, if you were able to skip 50 today and kept adding 50 jumps for the next two days – CONGRATULATIONS!! You made it to 150 jumps! This does not mean you will be able to keep up this pace for the next 30 days, if you do – Well Done! – and if you don’t – That’s OK!

Here are some tips to help you be consistent:

  • Tell someone – When starting something challenging, tell a close friend or family member about it. They will help you be accountable and help you push through on days that are just a little bit too tough
  • Set a reminder – Pick a time of day without all the other distractions to get on with what you want to do. Everyday make use of that time to be creative, active or to even relax.
  • Monitor your Progress – A simple check mark on a calendar will allow you to see how far you’ve progressed. If you are more into detailing, keeping a diary or journal will allow you to go into the specifics about your day like – how your mood was, challenges you faced, food habits etc. Monitoring your progress will allow you to know what made you stop on certain days and continue on others
  • Take a break – Although consistency is key, it is necessary that you allow yourself to take a break especially if what your attempting is something that’s challenging to your body. You don’t want to breakdown and have to start from scratch.

4. Re-evaluate

Sometimes you just stop and don’t want to continue. This is when you re-evaluate yourself. Remember the notes you were taking, they come in handy to understand why you don’t want to continue. Or simply take a moment and look back. Do you find what you were doing monotonous? Are you no longer enjoying it? Do you see no improvements?

Take this down time to re-evaluate your goals and re-adjust them. Maybe you’ve hit your peak and are plateauing, and need to change it to see more improvement. A small change here or there could provide be more benefits. Maybe you just need more days to relax.

5. Get Back At It (Don’t Give Up!)

Studies say it takes 21 days to create a habit and stick to it, but I say it’s more about you than anything else. If you feel it and mentally are prepared to strive for it, it’ll take a lot less of time to make changes in your life.

Yes there will be days that you feel like giving up and curling up and not doing anything but at the end of the day it’s all about you. Relax, watch a movie on Netflix and cuddle up with a warm cup of cocoa on the days you don’t feel like it. But get back to it the next day, DON’T GIVE UP!! You are worth all the effort.

P.S Yes, I know Confucius is Chinese but the quote goes well with post. So no complaining! 😛