A few days ago I posted on becoming the best at what we do. I talked about constant improvement in what we do and how we do it. The Japanese have a name for this constant improvement: Kaizen. Kaizen involves taking what Thomas Oppong calls baby steps.
On occasion a major change is needed in our work or in our personal lives. An addict must stop abusing alcohol or drugs. The recovery process may involve many steps, but it is still a radical change in their lives. However most of the time we are more successful with gradual change.
Having big audacious goals is OK, in fact it can be inspiring. Olympic athletes do not set little goals – their goal is to be the best at what they are doing – the best in the whole world. But they get their through small steps – one step at a time – one practice at a time. They may have many intermediate goals – small ones, but they are all aimed at getting them to the big one: the Gold Medal.
We can most effectively improve and change our lives through small steps or incremental change, because they are easier to achieve. You are less likely to become discouraged or overwhelmed if you concentrate on small steps.
As James Clear observes, ““We place unnecessary stress on ourselves to lose weight or to succeed in business or to write a best-selling novel. Instead, you can keep things simple and reduce stress by focusing on the daily process and sticking to your schedule, rather than worrying about the big, life changing goals. When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.”
The concept was used by business in the US during the depression to make small improvements continuously and it helped the US win World War II. The Japanese liked the idea and gave it the name Kaizen.
If you focus on becoming just 1% better at something you take that small step. Continue to focus on making those 1% improvements and over time you can improve 25% and then 50%, etc. Those 1% compound on one another.
Constant improvement can be challenging. We tend to get buried in the daily detail. It is easy to become overwhelmed by all that detail. Problems crop up and need to be addressed. Change is imposed upon us by external forces and cannot be ignored. The boss always wants something. The customers want something. The process we are working requires continuous attention. Emails need to be answered. Phone calls need to be returned. Reports are due. It can be overwhelming.
For me taking a little time each day to see what can be improved, even a little bit, is a relief from that grind of detail. It is what makes work exciting and engaging. Working to improve how you do what you do – becoming more efficient, more effective, is very rewarding work. You must make the time to focus on these improvements, no matter how small they may be. Over time these small improvements add up and change the way we work, improve it. It is the most rewarding part of your work if you exercise the self-discipline to do it.
A little change each day or each week will make a difference over the long run.
Learn how to formulate goals correctly to gain control over your life and achieve your dreams in my book, Goal Power!Wishing you well,
Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.