Updated: Feb 9, 2020
You were so determined to quit smoking, to lose weight or to finally become the sporty spice you have always been in your dreams. This year you would succeed. The first week went extraordinary well, the second week gave you some struggles but you didn’t give up, the third week, well let’s ignore that and here you are in the fourth or fifth week and chances are you have already given up. You feel lousy about yourself and a bit ashamed so you are not meeting friends for a month thinking of how to explain that you failed...again.
Thing is you are not a quitter neither are you a loser. If it was easy, no one would still be smoking or overweight, or struggling with whatever it is we would love to do differently. But it’s just really hard to change. Change doesn’t come from determination alone. It asks for a smart strategy.
Thank god for the Japanese. Very often I find my solutions in some old Japanese wisdom or philosophy. If it comes to change, Kaizen, a Japanese way of improving productivity in organisations might just be what you need to succeed. Let’s say you want to sport more. How are you going to realise that if you have never been much of a sports(wo)man?
1 Define the problem: Let’s say you don’t feel very fit. Most of the time this is not the hardest part but make sure not to fool yourself. Be honest about what is the real problem.
2 Analyse what’s causing it: you never sport. The question is why? You probably don’t like it. But why not?
3 Think of all possible solutions (yes, very often there are more than just one). What would help you go sporting more often? A fashionable workout outfit, a nice gym, a cheerleading personal trainer, a reward afterwards (other than the long term reward of being more fit).
A friend to accompany you sounds great but if he or she gives up, so will you. Don’t make your success dependent on something or someone else. Rather ask someone to encourage you to go or to complement you afterwards. Although in the end you should become that person yourself of course.
4 Implement it. Go buy that fancy outfit, find that sexy personal trainer and simply start.
5 Controle. After a while check how things are going. Are you making progress as in are you sporting more? If not, redefine: start the process again to find out where things went wrong.
6 Take small steps. Kaizen emphasizes taking small steps repeatedly. If your steps are too big you’ll probably give up soon because it’s just too hard. If you make it easy, it won’t be such a burden and it will be easier for you to make it a new habit. And when it’s a habit, you’ll definitely succeed!
Last tip: Kaizen is all about a cycle of continuous improvement. So don’t wait till next year for new resolutions, start now.