We’ve discussed setting objectives for changing your habits. But what happens once you’ve set your goal and taken your “first kaizen step”? After you’ve established a long-term goal, the following kaizen stage is to divide it into smaller, shorter, and medium-term objectives. Breaking your goal down into pieces will not only make it look more achievable, but it will also allow you to schedule your efforts around a specific time frame.
Establish a timeline for your short-, medium-, and long-term objectives. Assume your long-term aim is to learn a new guitar piece. To begin started, the simplest thing you could do is simply listen to the composition. Then, as a medium-term aim, you can set aside five minutes each day to practice a portion of it. Before moving on to the next portion, you could practice the same one until you’ve mastered it. Following Brailsford’s contagious-enthusiasm strategy, you’ll probably want to increase the length of time you practice each day until you’re able to perform the piece well.
But what about objectives that don’t have a clear endpoint? It’s especially crucial to have a way of monitoring progress if you want to introduce continuous habits into your life, such as eating more healthily or starting up a pastime. So, if your goal is to start doing yoga, you may make it measurable by writing down, “Every week, I want to attend one yoga class.”
According to the kaizen principle, you should change your time frame as you go, based on your natural pace. If you notice yourself becoming overworked along the road, instead of extending the length of your practice, shorten it. For example, if you’re having trouble writing 200 words every day for a novel, cut it down to 100. It may appear insignificant, but having 700 words at the end of each week is preferable to having none. The more words you collect, the more likely you are to stick with it.
Keep in mind that the goal of kaizen isn’t to cross items off a to-do list. Rather, it is to strive for continuous progress by taking small measures. The most important thing is to keep a constant eye on your feet while you walk.
Hani Motoko, Japan’s first female journalist, believed that being in control of one’s wealth was crucial to happiness. So, in 1904, she created the kakeibo journaling method, which was designed to help women keep track of their spending at the time.
The goal of this practice, which is still practiced in Japan today, is to keep track of all incoming and exiting expenses. Motoko emphasized the need of putting pen to paper as a conscious manner of processing what you spend. She recommended reviewing your ledger on a monthly basis to see how your expenditure is developing and to determine which priorities to focus on the next month.
Keep a tight eye on your behaviors and evaluate your progress on a regular basis. Similarly, tracking progress is a crucial aspect of the kaizen process. Looking back over the preceding weeks and months to see how your behaviors have changed is not only motivating, but it also highlights areas where you need to improve.
The author of the book Kaizen, Sarah Helsey, suggests starting a bullet journal, which is a method for creating your own type of diary similar to the kakeibo. The design will be determined by the habits you’re tracking. Turn your notebook page horizontally and write the days of the month along the top, leaving a blank column on the side. List any goals you have in bullet points in that column. If you complete the habit on a given day, make a note of it by coloring in the horizontal space. You’ll get a clear visual representation of your progress this way.
If you’re not a journaler, bullet points can be kept in a note-taking app on your phone. In reality, thanks to the plethora of applications available for tracking behaviors like as how many steps you take every day or the quality of your sleep, your smartphone may be a valuable tool for keeping track of your progress. Use whichever method works best for you, as long as you keep track of the habits you want to change.
Remember to take stock of your accomplishments at the end of the month. This will assist you in determining what you want to change in the coming month. Then, set new monthly goals and make necessary adjustments to your habit trackers.
Let’s imagine you want to learn how to sketch. So you set aside an hour per week for your new hobby. It goes well for a few weeks until you receive some disappointing news: your apartment lease will not be renewed as planned. You must vacate your apartment by the end of the month. When confronted with this depressing new reality, you’ll probably have to put your sketchbook down for a bit. Kaizen is a tailored strategy to long-term change. Take everything at your own pace.
It’s always thrilling to begin new habits or break old ones. Distressing circumstances such as a sudden house relocation or job loss, on the other hand, might make it easier to deviate from the path of change. The most important thing is to be patient with yourself. In every situation, berating yourself for not achieving your objectives is counterproductive.
Keep in mind that everyone moves at their own rate. A behavior can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to become automatic, according to several research. If there’s one takeaway from such a vast range, it’s that the time it takes to create habits varies greatly from person to person and habit to habit.
The beauty of kaizen is that it’s a customizable and individualized approach to long-term change, so pay attention to what works best for you. Keeping track of your emotions and behaviors will aid you in determining when it’s time to take a step back. It doesn’t mean that just because everyone else is gushing about that intense fitness routine, it will work for you.
If you’re having trouble fulfilling short-term objectives, go back to the simplest potential action you can take. If you’re too depressed to go for a 5-kilometer run, for example, take a short walk. Taking a modest step forward is preferable to taking none at all, because it allows you to steadily progress toward your goal. If you get behind, simply wait until you’re ready and take the tiniest action to get back on track.
Above all, don’t get too wrapped up in the end result. The goal of the kaizen strategy is to keep your focus on continuous development. Returning to Toyota’s automobile assembly line, where it all began, it’s all about fine-tuning your procedures as you progress.
Kaizen is a Japanese management philosophy that promotes small, gradual changes in behavior. However, before selecting what to change, take a step back and examine your patterns. Define your long-term objectives and devise a strategy for progressively achieving them. Keep track of your progress to ensure that you’re approaching change in a way that suits you. You keep the stakes low by moving toward your goals at a steady pace with minimal disruption to your routine. But don’t worry if you hit a snag along the way; you can always slow down and work your way back up.
So, take a page out of the book and begin decluttering your own environment. Sorting through a packed file drawer or a cluttered workstation may be onerous. So let’s have a look at it. Once a week, devote five minutes to cleaning out a single drawer or simply a single file in your office. Concentrate on the simplest task at a time, and the clutter will gradually recede.
Check out my related post: How to improve continuously through the Kaizen Method?