Using The Kaizen Model For Self Improvement
In this article, I am going to look at how you can use the Kaizen Model or Kaizen Method to improve your life one step at a time.
The Japanese word ‘kaizen’ means “change for better,” without inherent meaning of either “continuous” or “philosophy” in Japanese dictionaries and in everyday use. The word refers to any improvement, one-time or continuous, large or small, in the same sense as the English word “improvement”.
For anyone who has embarked on a journey toward self-improvement or personal growth, you know that the better version of yourself seems to lie at the other end of a never ending roller coaster ride.
The path to transformation is usually uneven, mostly uphill, and often includes many setbacks that leave you questioning your choice to start.
So what is the Kaizen Model or Method?
The Kaizen method is an approach to improvement that helps you embrace the marathon that is continuous growth, rather than expecting instant results and gratification.
Instead of looking for ways to make it all better RIGHT NOW, this approach adopts a more realistic strategy that leads to success over time. In many cases, this method works a lot better than trying to change everything at once.
Understanding the Kaizen Method
Unlike the notion of radical change, the Kaizen method is an approach the focuses on continuous, incremental improvement that leads to significant, long-term change.
Many people talk about Kaizen as being the “1 percent rule,” because instead of trying to make changes in substantial leaps and bounds, you instead focus on doing one small thing every single day that will get you closer to your final outcome.
The method was developed as a business model to promote lean manufacturing. You may know it as “The Toyota Way,” because it was famously adopted by that manufacturer to ensure quality control and to achieve transformation within the auto industry in Japan.
The opposite of this approach could be called “radical innovation,” in which a company or person attempts to make drastic changes very quickly. Anyone who has been on a strict and very limited diet can tell you what happens when you change everything very quickly. Change is much harder to realize.
The Kaizen method instead emphasizes a simple philosophy that every day, you are focusing on getting just a little bit better than you were the day before, in whatever way you are trying to change or improve. The power of this method is that these small, incremental changes compound on each other, and minuscule changes in the beginning soon combine with other minor changes to create more significant, lasting effects.
While it was originally developed as a business model, the Kaizen method is also applicable to personal growth and development. The advantage of this type of approach to improvement is that it gets you off the roller coaster of ups and downs usually associated with making changes in your life.
Instead of focusing on big, long-term goals that will not be realized until far into the future, the Kaizen method helps you focus instead on small, discrete steps that are achievable today with your current capabilities.
The underlying foundations of Kaizen state that there is no magic bullet that will suddenly change your life or make everything better. And the sooner you realize and embrace this, the sooner you can actually start improving your life in meaningful ways. Change is hard, and it comes through small steps taken every day. It comes through continuous improvement, not an overnight transformation.
Simpleology is a good example of a platform that uses the Kaizen method as a basis for developing good habits.
The Kaizen method is a process, not a goal. It is not something you ever really achieve as it is something you commit to doing every day. Once you reach a specific goal, Kaizen thinking can help you maintain your results or secure your gains.
As an inspirational speaker once said, “Success isn’t owned, it’s rented. And the rent is due every day.” If you want to succeed, you have to do the hard work every day, so you might as well make that work a part of your daily habits so that it becomes who you are and what you do in the process.
Some Examples Of The Kaizen Method
Here are some simple examples of the Kaizen Model and how you can put it to use in your daily life:
- If you battle to wake up in the morning when your alarm clock goes off and tend to press snooze, which makes you late for work, try putting the alarm clock on the other side of the room. In this way, you will be forced to get out of bed and go and switch it off, by which time you will be up.
- If you need to exercise more but hate going to the gym, try taking a five-minute brisk walk during your lunch break. Once you get used to this you can gradually increase it.
- Straighten up your desk or your work environment and this will make things easier to find leaving you more time for the important stuff. Keep tools that you work with often within reach and highly visible. Get rid of things you don’t use and make sure that everything in your immediate environment is used.
- Declutter. Clutter complicates your life and slows you down. Cluttered space = cluttered mind = brain fog.
- Put your exercise mat and weights where you can see them easily and that way you will remember to do a bit of exercise each day.
- Put a jar in a strategic place and save all your coins. You will be amazed at how quickly it builds up.
- Remove anything from your environment that triggers undesired behavior. For example, if you see that junk food there you are going to eat it, so remove it.
- Make desired behaviors more accessible. For example, put a glass of water within reaching distance.
- Block social media sites at the router level if they consume your valuable time.
- Institute a clean PC policy by using approved applications only. This will cause less wasted time, faster machines, and faster communications.
- Position the top of your computer monitor to be at eye level and then tilt it slightly upwards.
- Try multiple computers or monitors. Emails and distracting stuff on the one and real work on the other.
- Move your lunch outdoors. Get fresh air, sunlight, vitamin D, and better sleep.
- Have healthy snacks available at all times.
- Use slide show screen savers with motivational pictures and quotes.
- Clear your computer desktop and keep just the important stuff within view.
- Open curtains and windows as much as possible.
- Place a mirror on your fridge as this has been scientifically proven to be an effective adjunct to fat loss.
- Ditch your plastics as many leak xenoestrogens.
- Have lots of plants. More oxygen and more healthy for you.
- Ensure tools for healthy eating are accessible. If you have to search for the chopping board and salad spinner, you won’t eat so much of it.
- Remove all electronics from your bedroom for a better night’s sleep.
- Look at homeschooling for your child. It just makes sense and saves so much time traveling and will also save you on petrol and school fees. Your child can also work at his own pace and does not have to wait for his peers before he can progress.
The trick with the Kaizen model is to think of ways each day to make your own life simpler and easier. Implementing changes one at a time and developing habits out of these small changes is key to your success.