Got Kaizen?

I recently was introduced to the word Kaizen. It is a Japanese word that, according to the Urban Dictionary, means (Kai = change) and (Zen = change for the better). In practice it focuses on making small changes consistently that ultimately have greater impact than an occasional big change.

I wanted to bring Kaizen to your attention because this is the time of year that we all think about New Year’s resolutions. Some of us make them. Even fewer of us fulfill them. Why? For starters, we often pick such big tasks that they are nearly impossible to accomplish. I know that you know what I am talking about. In reality, the typical resolution would require you to wake up on New Year’s Day as an entirely different person, leaving one or more of your bad habits behind and suddenly becoming the person that you have visualized yourself to be for years. How did that go for you last year??? The reality is that we “change” for a day or two, perhaps a week or two. But when life kicks in, all of our good intentions go by the wayside.

So this year I invite you to think differently about what you want to change or accomplish in 2013. Instead of sweeping proclamations of how dramatically you are going to evolve, just pick one simple, single thing that you really will consistently work on. Recognize that you may slip from time to time, and that you will not morph overnight. But, in time, if your effort is consistent, you will succeed. Pick something that is easy, and that you know you can follow through with.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Make sure that you regularly attempt to leave your house or apartment five minutes earlier than you typically do so you are not rushing and are on time instead of feeling the pressure of being late. (If you make this change, and only this change, it will bring your stress levels down tremendously!)
  2. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. Most of us are chronically dehydrated, myself included, and making drinking more water a habit will have more benefits than you can imagine. Worried about lines on your face? Dehydration makes them worse… You know how something looks when it is dried out vs. when it is nice and plump…
  3. Hug the people you love more often (this might not be the kind of change that you typically think about, but after the tragedy in Newtown, I cannot stop hugging my kids).
  4. Wash your face every night… I always want to, but alas it does not always happen. This one will be on my list for sure.
  5. Make at least one home cooked meal a week, even if it is just for you – it does not have to be complicated. Soup and salad will do.
  6. Make a point to be grateful. Spend a minute or two a day focusing on the things that went right instead of all that things that did not.
  7. Get rid of things that do not work in your life anymore. If it is not junk, donate it – your surplus items may be perfect for someone who does not have the things that you do.
  8. Go without one food you know is not good for you (soda – hint, hint… ).

Remember Kaizen, making small sustainable changes!!! And do not feel that you have to make more than one of them at a time. Once you succeed with the first one, the next one will be even easier.

I hope you decide that you are ready to play a bigger game, to grab your life by the metaphorical horns, and to do it with ease and grace.

And remember: Do not compare the “behind the scenes” elements of your life to some else’s highlight reel. Believe me, their behind the scenes look just like yours!