Growth | Written by: Jessica Chen

How to Use Kaizen in Your Everyday Life

If you’re like me, you probably have a list of goals that you would like to accomplish in the near future. Yet, why is it so difficult to reach those objectives?

Perhaps you should take a look at Kaizen.

Originally developed for the manufacturing world, the Japanese concept of Kaizen is a way to stay productive by enacting gradual change over time.

So, how can you use Kaizen to improve your daily life?

What Does Kaizen Mean?

Kaizen is a Japanese term meaning “change for the better” or “continuous improvement” that was initially applied to refining manufacturing processes. The goal of Kaizen is to proactively make small changes that progressively increase efficiency and reduce waste.

When applied to self-improvement, the idea is that by taking tiny steps and making small changes in your life, your quality of life will eventually improve drastically.

According to Brett and Kate McKay, because the change is slow and steady, Kaizen is effective because it eliminates the freezing that you may experience when venturing too far out of your comfort zone.

How Kaizen Can Be Applied to Everyday Life

Now that you know what Kaizen is and how it can help enact change, what should you do if you want to use Kaizen to revamp your life?

Here are the five steps you take to begin applying Kaizen to your everyday life:

1. Make a List of Improvements

The first step you should take is to identify the areas of improvement you would like to tackle. Make sure that the issue you would like to solve can be corrected through repeatable, small changes.

For example, if you would like to be more fit, identify what exercises you feel you would like to do. Maybe you would like to get better defined abs, so you choose sit-ups as an exercise you’d like to incorporate into your life.

2. Set Goals Low

Kaizen is all about moderate change, so after recognizing what you’d like to reform, make sure to set your goals low.

Remember, if you set too high of a goal, you’ll end up psyching yourself out and never making a move towards accomplishing your objective. Thus, the goals you set should be easily doable and repeatable, where you can build upon them over time.

To continue on with the fitness example, once you’ve decided on sit-ups as your exercise of choice, you can set the goal of one sit up a day. This may seem small, but once you start building up from one sit up a day, you’ll be surprised how much you’ll be able to do.

3. Implement a Change a Day

After setting your objective, find a way to build upon it every day. That way, after a while, what at first seems like a tiny goal will develop into a much more intense routine over time. And the best part of this is that the change will be so minuscule that you won’t even notice how much you’re transforming yourself while it’s happening.

For instance, in the case with the sit-ups, if you start adding one more sit up every day, by the end of the week, you’ll be doing seven sit-ups. By the end of the month, you’ll be doing 30. And now, your initial goal has now blossomed into a full-fledged fitness routine.

4. Persist, Even If You Falter

While setting low goals is supposed to prevent you from losing motivation, if you do end up forgetting to tend to a goal, don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, continue on the next day at the same point that you stopped, remind yourself that it’s no big deal that you’ve missed one small goal, and forge ahead.

This applies to the sit-up example as well. If you miss a day of sit-ups, continue the next day with the same number of sit-ups that you should’ve done the day before, and move on from there.  

5. Reap the Benefits

One tough part of Kaizen is that since the change is so piecemeal, you may be tempted to abandon your goals before any significant change has occurred. However, Kaizen requires patience and time. Once you’ve given yourself sufficient time with Kaizen, you’ll soon start noticing your life changing in a big way.

When it comes to the sit-ups example, you may never have initially imagined yourself being able to do 100 sit-ups. Nevertheless, after three months of hard work, you’ll find that you’re able to do 100 sit ups with ease with the help of Kaizen, accomplishing your goal of becoming more fit.

Why Kaizen Is Important and How It Improves Your Life

Kaizen is all about having the mindset that every little bit of change has worth. If you can carry this mindset into your everyday life, you’ll be able to break down every goal you’d like to achieve into small steps, and attain almost anything from journaling regularly to becoming more personable in your daily interactions.  

But, it doesn’t have to stop there!

By staying proactive and identifying new objectives you would like to achieve, you can start the process over and over again, steadily overhauling different aspects of your life until you achieve your ideal lifestyle.

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