What is Kaizen?

In short, Kaizen is about taking small actions to achieve large lasting results.  It can be used in two ways...

  1. You can use small trivial steps to achieve a large goal.

  2. Or, you can use small trivial moments to learn large lessons.

The word Kaizen is Japanese and literally means good change.  

Kai - change

Zen - good

In the business world, it is often applied to improvement of processes and procedures.  The same could be said for it’s application in our personal lives as we make changes in our everyday process of living.

The method is not simply about change, but about the making small changes over time that last, instead of immediate big changes that are often short lived.

A good example is the big New Year’s resolution that gets of to a great start in January, and then fades away by March only to be repeated next year.  Some studies show that people go through this cycle an average of 10 times before achieving success!

You don’t have to be one of those people.

Kaizen takes a big goal like reducing your portion size at mealtime and shaving it down to it’s bare minimum. For example, removing one spoonful of food from your plate before starting to eat your meal.

This is exactly the method I used with a couple of coworkers several years ago when we pledged to reduce our sugar intake by not having sugar in our coffee anymore.  We started with a half a pack less for about a week and then went down little by little, week by week until we didn’t use sugar anymore. I still don’t take sugar in my coffee until this day and that was over 15 years ago. And if I try to add sugar, I’ve found that I don’t even like the way it tastes in my coffee anymore!

This is just one example of how Kaizen has worked in my efforts to make and maintain changes in my life.

I think the approach my coffee crew took worked for a couple reasons.  

  1. The change was small enough that it didn't feel like a big deal.

  2. I had friends to encourage me and hold me accountable. (I’ll share more more on the power of teams later)

I think you’d agree that the easiest changes to make and maintain are the ones that seem effortless.  And when you know how to wield the power of Kaizen, you can make pretty much any change effortless.

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