Kaizen, literally translated from Japanese as good change, has been defined in English as “continuous improvement” or “philosophy of improvement”. My husband, who runs a patent law practice, uses this symbol as the core principle of his business, encircled by the terms, “inspire, innovate, create”.
In my opinion, the Realms of Balance are circular and overlapping. Kaizen can be applied to any of the four realms. Mark Sisson, one of my favorite bloggers, was asked by a reader about his personal New Year’s resolutions for 2014. He eschewed the traditional concept and instead described his “daily resolution” model:
“I acknowledge myself for [what I’m grateful for] and then ask myself this: ‘If I stopped today and just sat back, could I be content to rest on my laurels?’ The answer is always, ‘Yes, but there’s still more work to be done.’ I keep a long list of all the ideas and plans I could start on (or finish) and then ask myself, ‘am I excited enough about it all to take it to the next level today?'”
My first post of this year touched on the idea of making a New Year’s theme… Resolution time is still fresh in our minds, although research shows that momentum behind most resolutions fades around the time February hits. Why not have continuous improvement be a consistent part of your life, not a fleeting commitment? This is not a new nor unpopular concept; the idea here is to have a general mindset for making micro-improvements. People are conditioned to focus on drastic changes in the age of Extreme Makeover, etc. However, the biggest and most long-lasting shifts come from small changes made every day.
How do we enliven the spirit of Kaizen in us? Constant self-assessment, through whatever tool works best for you. Mark’s quote above specifically mentions a “long list”… this definitely works for me. I always have multiple types of lists going. I list things I want to do in my journal. I print out a calendar for each month and write lists of my current goals at the top in three headings: fitness, mindset, and nutrition. Each day when I do something that is consistent with these goals, I write it in the little date box (yes, I really do do this!). I also have separate list going of small projects. Right now, this list contains the following items:
- Sell old electronics on Ebay
- Convert CDs to hard drive storage, sell/donate
- Convert my two fave VHS exercise tapes to DVD
(As you can see, there is kind of a “declutter electronics” theme in my house right now! These list items fit within my overall Home objectives of simplifying to only the things we use and love. If we are going to – hopefully – introduce a child into our family and add another body to our small 1938 home, we are going to have to be much more organized and thoughtful about our level of stuff!)
What about you? How do you employ Kaizen in your day to day life, in your Work, Home, Community and Self? Share your ideas here!