Creating a new habit can be a struggle and even if the motivation is there to get started, it tends to fade away before you’ve achieved any substantial results, and just like that you’re back to your old shitty habits. But what if I told you that there is an incredibly simple way to make any habit stick without the initial struggles and even without motivation. And this way will have much better long lasting results. It’s so easy to implement that anyone can do it and have success with it. So in this video I will explain the Japanese approach called kaizen and how you can use it to make any habit stick for the long term.
The Japanese word kaizen actually means Change and good. It translates to change for something better or continues improvement even in the smallest ways possible.
This belief was displayed by Dr. W. Edwards Deming, an american who got involved in the Japanese car manufacturing process after world war II. He introduced his principles of how to improve the quality and process of manufacturing cars such as Toyota and Honda. Deming argued against popular belief that change has to be big and bold in order to have an effect – he was convinced of the opposite. Don’t change too much at once, but instead focus on the extremely small things that can be improved upon, every single day.
Deming’s core belief. A constant, never-ending commitment to consistently increase the quality of their business every single day. He believed this would give the Japanese car manufacturers the power to dominate the entire global automobile market. He promised them that within 5 years using this kaizen approach, they would flood the world with their high quality products and within two decades become one of the world’s dominant economic powers.
Although this seemed a ridiculous promise at the time, those small improvements, from the very bottom chain of manufacturing to the top level eventually had a massive effect and most changes costed close to nothing to implement. They awarded anyone who could come up with any type of change that would improve the process or cut the time. What they realized was that many, many small changes over time lead to this huge progress over time, and Japanese cars are now praised for their high quality, endurance and reliability, which was not always the case. By trusting Deming, the Japanese manufacturing process was revolutionized and the highest honor a Japanese company can receive is the National Deming prize, and is awarded on national television every year to the company who has represented the highest increase in overall quality of product and management.
But I didn’t make this video to talk about the revolution in Japanese manufacturing, but rather how you can implement this approach to your own life!
Kaizen is very applicable to one’s personal life and improvement and Dr. Robert Maurer demonstrated this through his patients. Instead of asking his patients to completely change certain habits, he followed the principles of kaizen and asked them instead to do extremely small insignificant changes towards what they wanted to accomplish. Instead of telling his obese patient to exercise more and eat less, he simply told her to put her training shoes on and stand still on the treadmill for 30 seconds. And for nutrition he asked her to put one less cube of sugar in her coffee.
Those were such small tasks to embrace and completing them got rid of that mental barrier that was always hindering them from starting in the first place, and they eventually started take bigger steps forward. Before kaizen, the thought of exercising and eating healthy regularly was just too much to ask for and triggered a sense of fear of failure and uncertainty. When these senses are detected, we naturally activate a fight or flight response. We quickly look for something to relieve this stressful feeling and instead of focusing rationally, our emotions takes over and we look to distract ourselves with comfortable activities and next thing you know you’ve watched 3 seasons of some new Netflix series to avoid that fear of failure or rejection. We can avoid getting a no and being rejected and instead get drunk and destroy a freshly made pizza that will give us nothing but instant gratification.
But taking these embarrassingly small steps towards what you want to accomplish will actually trick the brain and you can tip tap toe past that barrier that hinders you from even starting.
I remember a while back when my brother gave me a book and told me I should read it. All I saw was turning a bunch of pages and spending hours upon hours of reading it, which made me put it as a last priority, and I didn’t really consider even opening the book. However he said something very simple after that, that made me put reading that book as a first priority. He just said, just read the first 3-4 pages, I think you will enjoy that. I thought reading 4 pages will only take me a few minutes and while I have it in my hand I might as well open it. A few paragraphs into the book I forgot to count how many pages I’ve read, and next thing I knew I finished the first chapter. A few days later and I’d finished the whole thing simply because I decided to read a few pages, or more importantly I got started.
With this kaizen approach, you can create new powerful long lasting habits because the initial resistance to change slowly fades away, and you will eventually embrace change as something good and something that is needed in order to progress. It’s highly effective and embraces the very important concept of constant and never ending improvement by taking very small steps every single day.
So if you’re still reading I want to challenge you, or I want you to challenge yourself to take embarrassingly small steps to whatever new habit you want to create. If you want to start exercising, put your training shoes on a walk around at home for a minute every day for a week. If you want to write, hold a pencil for 30 seconds everyday for a week. Just take the tiniest, shitiest little step and do it consistently for a few days and that’s it. And the beautiful thing with repetition is that it gets easier over time. Just get past that barrier that hinders you from getting started and you may very well be on your way of creating a powerful new habit.