Kaizen – The Power of Small Steps to Create Big Change
Overcoming New Year’s Over-Resolving With the Power of Small Steps
It’s January, again. I love January, partly because I love New Year’s resolutions. The opportunity to start over, do better, be better – improve myself, my life, my business – all the things. Maybe even actually become one of the beautiful, perfect humans with the perfect lives I see on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok (oh wait, I’m not on TikTok – another one of my New Year’s resolutions).
I typically start January with a vision of who my perfect self should be and the extraordinary measures I’m going to take to become her. Everything from exercising every day, to ditching all sugar and processed foods, to waking up an hour earlier, to no binge watching my favorite television shows and reading instead, to journaling and meditating every day, to … . It’s a long list. Too long and too much and, as it has every year, my attempt to be the perfect human lasts for about a day.
Am I the only person who does that? Who tries to make all the changes, knowing that my grandiose plans to make all those improvements all at once are not going to happen? I’m definitely old enough to know better. This year, I’m taking a more realistic approach, and trying something different.
First, I’m starting with the recognition of what should have already been obvious. I am not perfect. I am not going to be perfect – and what I’m really striving for is to become a better version of myself. Showing up as the best me for my family, my friends, my employees, my clients, my peers, myself – that’s the plan.
That said, I still want to grow and learn and improve – but I know it doesn’t work for me to try and make all the things happen at once. So this year, I’m trying Kaizen. Kaizen, initially made famous by Toyota and used to improve manufacturing processes, is about taking small steps to accomplish big changes. In a nutshell, the thinking behind Kaizen is that radical changes are scary and put the brain in fight or flight mode, making it less likely the radical change will be realized. Small, easily achievable goals, however, soothe the brain’s distress and lay the groundwork for real change. Instead of trying to accomplish everything all at once, Kaizen recommends setting your intention on the big accomplishment, but distilling getting there into small, navigable steps.
This year, I’m starting by practicing Kaizen for a few minutes each day, and asking myself what small step I can take that day to reach one of my most important New Year’s goals, and then taking that small step. Of course, consistency will be key. I will let you know how it works out for me next year. If you’re interested in learning more about Kaizen, I recommend One Small Step Can Change Your Life, The Kaizen Way, by Robert Maurer.
And if you need help with your estate plan, trust, will or powers of attorney, contact our St. Louis office at 314-303-3218. We’re happy to walk you through the small steps that will help you accomplish this big goal.
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Written January 10, 2023 by Stephanie Martinez