How many times do we set grandiose goals for ourselves that lead to nothing? It happens, for example, on New Year's Eve or after some event in our lives. We set the meter to zero and feel empowered and eager that this time we will let big changes into our lives after all. But a few weeks, months go by and nothing changes.
Why doesn't anything change in our lives?
It happens for three reasons. First, because biologically we are not built for radical change and our brains are on high alert. Second, because, as Albert Einstein said it well, "if we always do the same thing, the results will always be the same." If you want different results from last year, you can't get hung up on doing things the same way. Third, because if we feel the task is huge, we tend to put off and postpone changes indefinitely.
What is the kaizen method of improvement and how does it work?
From Japanese, "kai" translates to "change" and "zen" translates to "good". That is, the philosophy of kaizen is the pursuit of continuous improvement. At first, this philosophy was used only in the business world, but its success has led to the fact that today it is applied to almost every aspect of life.
To get a good understanding of what the kaizen method is, we can refer to the book "25 Japanese Habits to Live Better," where author Masaki Ishiguro explains:
"There are two elementary pillars in this philosophy: continuity and gradualism. The idea is to divide big tasks into smaller ones, where only two basic elements can be accomplished. Let's take one step at a time so that we can be calm and not feel the stress that causes psychological oversaturation. These steps must become permanent, that is, we must move forward every day, at least a little bit," he explains.
Kaizen philosophy encourages us to be individual, be bold, make changes, observe, evaluate the result and keep striving for improvements. But this is contrary to radical transformation. The secret is to introduce new things little by little, breaking the journey into small steps or tasks that integrate effortlessly into our daily lives. These steps should be done at a steady pace, meaning we should progress day by day, even if it's just a tiny step at a time. In this way, without attacking our brain, without stress or feeling blocked, the small gestures will become a habit and bring permanent results.
"Kaizen philosophy states that perseverance is the soil in which progress germinates," Masaki Ishiguro emphasizes in this sense in the above-mentioned work. Or as philosopher and historian Will Durant put it, summarizing Aristotle's thought, "We are what we do every day, so excellence is not an action but a habit."
How to apply kaizen philosophy in your life
As we can see, kaizen philosophy is based on the need and ability of a person to do something better and better every day, on the desire for self-improvement. That's why we should understand kaizen as a path, not as a goal in itself. Improvement should be continuous and, one might say, endless. It can always be improved, and even if you succeed, if you want to maintain it, you must keep doing what got you to this point. To paraphrase American businessman and politician David T. Kearse, "There is no finish line in the race for quality." Also, and this is very important, this method is designed from an altruistic point of view. Continuous improvement is not only about striving for personal growth, but also about making the world a better place.