Often times when you look at your life or work situation or anything else, you might get overwhelmed with the changes that need to take place. For example, when you decide you want to be more fit, you might join a gym and think that you will start going 4 days a week. How often does that work? Do you stick with it? Usually you go and are all gung ho, then something comes up and you miss a day… then you get home another day and just don’t feel like going and after a while you are done.

We think that we need to make massive changes to make massive improvement but find it difficult to do… but what if there were another way?

The word kaizen is the Japanese word for improvement. Japanese companies have used a means of improvement for quite some time. Rather than totally overhaul a system, they will go in and look for small things that can be improved and work on those things.

What if instead of introducing a massive change in your life, you changed just one small thing? What do you think would happen? Changing one small thing can get massive results when you stick with the commitment to add on to that small change?

We don’t gain 15 pounds over night, the garage doesn’t turn into a disaster over night these things happen over time, yet we expect to be able to change these things over night. You are setting yourself up to fail if this is your thinking. Most people will not stick with a routine that is a massive change. Somehow we are conditioned to think that we have to take these large steps to gain improvement.

When I worked for Dr. McCombs, DMD, he introduced me to the Kaizen philosophy. He had learned about it at a seminar he went to. He said that the philosophy was “to get massive changes, you have to make small, incremental changes.”. He got a poster and listed the names of everyone in the office. Each week he asked us each to come up with a small improvement that would help make the office  better. He said it could be anything no matter how minute. This improvement board was a great source of inspiration. It caused us all to think. Of course there were some who thought of it as another chore… but there were those of us who thought of some really good stuff that got implementation and became part of the system. For example, one of the clinicians recommended that we have color coded dots on the patient charts that indicate certain things about the patient without being said out loud in front of the patient or having the words written on their chart for the patient to see. Some patients were very sensitive and felt pain a little more, it was good for us to know this so we could take extra care with these patients, so.. these patients got a pink dot sticker on their chart.

If you are looking to improve your health, perhaps it is a better idea when you join this gym to go just once a week. Firmly commit to one day. That is so much easier and more do-able if you have not been going at all. Perhaps your body will not see improvement in the first few weeks but your attitude will. If you can do just one day for a few weeks, then you can add another. I never did think that the trainers at the gym were properly trained. When you meet with them, they tell you to come in and do 4 days, do strength and cardio and change all of your eating habits. For most people.. that is SO NOT going to happen.

This example converts to everything else. If you are looking to change your outlook, just do it one day a week and then add on. If you want to clean your garage, start with one little corner and work on it week after week until you have cleaned the entire garage. If you want to spend more time with your kids, just watch a movie with them or go for a one walk together once a week then build up.

In most cases, whatever you are wanting to improve.. it didn’t get that way in one day, those pounds add up over weeks, that garage gets piled up over months, your time away from family happens with one project at a time taking you away.

Use the Kaizen philosophy to chip away at a change. It is a great way to set yourself up for success. Journal about it, look back at your progress. It’s important to acknowledge the changes so you can feel the success. When it’s done on a smaller scale, it’s sometimes difficult to see the massive changes that have actually taken place.

You can apply the Kaizen philosophy anywhere in your life and get massive change by slowly implementing small changes and letting them add up.