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Last Updated on November 26, 2019

How Continuous Improvement Can Enhance Your Personal Life

How Continuous Improvement Can Enhance Your Personal Life

Have you heard of Kaizen? Kaizen is the Japanese philosophy and practice of continuous improvement. This concept of continuous improvement was first conceived in the USA during WW2.

To maintain the production levels and meet demand, the industry had to come up with a system that would allow for incremental progress in production rather than no progress at all – which was very much the reality the industry was facing.

This concept of consistent incremental improvement proved to be a huge success and saved the US manufacturing industry from a rapid decline.

After WW2, as part of the rebuild programme for Japan, the Japanese were invited to visit manufacturing plants through out the USA. The Japanese took this successful concept of continuous improvement and adapted into Kaizen.

This philosophy formed the base from which the Japanese have built a manufacturing industry that dominates the world today.

In this article, I’ll look into what continuous improvement is and how you can make use of this concept to enhance your life.

What Does Continuous Improvement Have to Do with You?

So what does Kaizen have to do with us? How can it help us enhance our personal lives?

“Persistence, perseverance, and continuous improvement are the ingredients for forming a successful person.” — Debasish Mridha

While Kaizen was originally developed to help businesses improve and thrive, it’s just as applicable to our personal lives.

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The Kaizen philosophy of continuous improvement I believe is a failure proof system that enables us to achieve and sustain our personal goals and dreams in life.

The concept of continuous improvement offers us a way where we can live our lives to the fullest by continuously learning, growing and thriving.

We live in a world of never ending disruption and change. By adopting the philosophy of Kaizen, we become more adaptable, flexible and resilient to dealing with the constant demands and disruptions we face in our lives.

What Continuous Improvement Is Exactly

The philosophy of Kaizen is based on the concept that instead of making big changes at once, the continuous improvement approach focuses on making small improvement over time.

Kaizen is often referred to as the “strategy for 1% gains”. It is these 1% gains that athletes focus on to improve their performance. The 1% gains are incremental and if you keep building on the 1% gains the rewards are phenomenal.

Continuous improvement is perpetual and so to maintain gains and improvement, you need to work on them continuously.

Your personal improvement journey is never finished! What this means is, if you are truly committed to philosophy of continuous improvement, you are less likely to quit because you are always in search of the next goal.

How Continuous Improvement Empowers You

How many New Year resolutions have you made and never achieved over the years?

Unless you are one of the small minority who are goal orientated high achievers, maintaining motivation and the commitment to achieving your goals is hard work and dare I say it – with not much success – one big FAILURE after another.

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Hence, these are the reasons why New Years’ resolutions are never achieved.

Continuous improvement can help you to achieve any goals you set. If you commit to the practice of continuous improvement, your motivation to achieve your goals and aspirations in life will never die.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” — Benjamin Franklin

You will never have to struggle with the dilemma of giving up or giving in because it all became too hard.

Your achievements and success in life will be as a result of you taking continuous incremental steps toward your goals.

Continuous improvement is not about reaching the big goals in life but about taking small steps and improving and refining along the way.

How to Commit to Continuous Improvement

If you truly desire a successful life where you are thriving, the first thing you must do is embrace and accept that your journey of self improvement and growth will never end. It is a lifelong journey of learning.

Once you have accepted that your journey to improving your life is life long, you then follow these steps:

1. Set Your Goals Based on the Philosophy of 1% Incremental Achievements

Remember that setting the goal is the easy bit. Keeping motivated, focused and on track to achieving any goal is the hardest part.

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The concept of continuous improvement provides you with a system or a process that if you commit to following will enable you to confidently achieve any goal you set- you are guaranteed to win.

“Instead of trying to make radical changes in a short amount of time, just make small improvements every day that will gradually lead to the change you want. Each day, just focus on getting 1% better in whatever it is you’re trying to improve. That’s it. Just 1%.” — Brett and Kate McKay of The Art of Manliness

It might not seem like much but continuous 1% improvement/achievements every day will gradually add up to 100% and the goal is achieved!

In their book The Art Of Manliness, Brett and Kate McKay talk about how the journey of self improvement and personal growth is a lot like a rollercoaster ride – scary, exciting and with lots of ups and downs.

They believe that by following the concept of Kaizen (the 1% improvement) every day enables you to get off the roller coaster ride of feeling like a failure and being angry with yourself because you keep giving up.

2. Break down the System into Small Actions

Continuous improvement is a journey of personal growth where you are making long-term steady progress. It is not about random bursts of improvement with fits and starts of activity. This approach to self-improvement will not give you the sustainable long-term changes you seek to improve your life or achieve your goals.

For example, if you have huge debt and you want to pay it back but it is all too much, so you hide away from taking any action. To put the concept of continuous improvement into action, the first thing you need to do is not focus on how much you owe, instead focus on creating a system or process that enables you to pay back an incremental amount each week.

Once you have created the system, you must break down the system into small actions or behaviours with the least resistance and effort. Commit to these actions on a daily basis until your original system is habit.

Commit to paying back a realistic amount each week and then increase the amount you pay back by 1% plus every week after that. Keep going until the debt is paid off.

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3. Keep Track of Your 1% Success

The other important factor about incremental achievement is that you must measure and keep track of your 1% successes.

Evaluating and measuring your improvements are important for your own motivation and commitment to the journey. If you are not measuring your progress, your subconscious brain will kick in and sabotage your progress by convincing you that it is all too hard and you are not making any progress at all.

Your subconsious brain only believes what you tell it. Unfortunately you have told your brain a lot of untruthful things over a long period of time about how you are a failure, not motivated and never really achieved anything in life. Your subconscious brain as a result believes all these “facts” that you have told it to be true.

Measuring and evaluating your 1% successes is key to you retraining your subconscious to believe that Yes – you can achieve your goals and succeed in life!

Focus on the Progress, Always

Continuous Improvement does not focus on making huge gains or big improvements all at once. Instead it focuses on long-term steady progress.

When you follow the philosophy of Continuous Improvement, you won’t radically change your life but over time with consistent and constant improvement and change, you will find that you are living your life to the fullest – empowered, resilient and thriving.

Why would you not want to embrace this philosophy of incremental improvement and growth into your personal life?

“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will be a stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.” – Sir Winston Churchill

More About Continuous Improvement

Featured photo credit: Rochelle Nicole via unsplash.com

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on December 13, 2019

When You Never Stop Learning, These 5 Amazing Things Happen

When You Never Stop Learning, These 5 Amazing Things Happen

Imagine if what you’ve been told about learning is a myth.

For example, many people believe that learning ends when you leave college, or that you need to have a high IQ to be able to learn easily. And it’s also a common belief that only young people can learn new things.

Now, not only are all these beliefs completely wrong — but they’re also incredibly harmful to people who buy into them.

The truth is that the ability to learn is available to everyone, including yourself. You just need to find the desire, motivation and purpose to get the ‘learning habit’.

That’s what this article is all about.

I’m going to show you the incredible benefits of lifelong learning. And I’m going to inspire you to start traveling down this glorious road so you can transform your life.

Ready to get started?

Then read on as I reveal five amazing things that will happen when you never stop learning.

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1. You Have a Sharper Mind

Continuous learning helps to keep your mind fresh and your memory sharp.

In fact, research has shown that learning in general has beneficial effects on the brain, including lessening your risk of dementia.[1]

To give you an example of this in action, let me tell you about one of my life coaching clients.

He initially came to me as he felt like he had lost his way in life (he was in his mid-40s at the time). Upon speaking with him, it became obvious to me that not only was he directionless, but he also lacked the spark of life. You know what I mean, that drive and energy that you get once you’re excited about something.

During the course of several one-to-one sessions with him, I was able to help him find out what he wanted to do in his life, and I also instilled in him the power of continuous learning. I did this by asking him to learn at least one new thing a day.

After doing this for a month, he called me up to say that he was feeling enthusiastic about life again. He’d fallen in love with being curious about things and was learning new stuff everyday. He also told me that his mind and memory had never been sharper.

2. Your Confidence Is Boosted

If — like the person I mentioned above — you feel you’ve lost your way in life, then I’m guessing that your confidence has taken a knock too.

This is where learning new things and taking on new challenges can really help.

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For example, imagine that you made the decision today to learn how to rock climb (even though you’re afraid of heights!).

You might initially read a book on the topic, or watch a few videos on YouTube. After that, you’d probably want to enroll in a professional rock climbing group. That way, you could learn to gradually overcome your fear of heights, while at the same time learning the essential techniques of rock climbing.

Within a few weeks, you could be climbing to new heights!

3. Your Interpersonal Skills Are Improved

When you become an active learner, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll widen your social circle and improve your interpersonal skills.

Let’s say you decided to learn how to play chess…

At first, you might learn the rules and some of the basic moves by playing against a computerized opponent. But keep doing this often enough, and eventually you’ll want to test out your skills against a human opponent. This might be a friend, family member or colleague. But whoever it is, your mental battle with them will mean that you share a common experience. One that you’re sure to talk about often.

And if chess eventually becomes a favorite hobby of yours, you might well join a local chess club. This would allow you to meet lots of new people — all who love the game as much as you.

This type of learning can extend your social circle, attract new friends, and enhance your relationships.

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4. You Adapt Change a Lot Better

Greek philosopher Heraclitus revealed a timeless truth: “Change is the only constant in life.”

I’m sure you’ve experienced this in your life. However hard you try to avoid change; there’s no holding this force back.

Once you know this, though, then the secret to success is to be able to adapt to the changes that come your way.

Learning can definitely help you do this. That’s because through the learning process (say learning how to drive a car), you develop skills such as persistence, understanding and resilience. All key skills that can help you deal with any changes in your life that you’re forced to encounter.

Learners are strivers. And strivers know how to turn challenges into opportunities, and adversities into blessings.

5. You Open Up New Career Opportunities

If you want to climb the career ladder or start your own business, then it’s vital that you’re constantly learning.

But not just random stuff.

To be effective, your learning should be primarily focused on your career goals.

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For instance, if you wanted to set yourself up as a freelance business consultant, then I’d recommend that you did your research first:

  • Who are your likely customers?
  • What can you offer them?
  • How much should you charge them?
  • Can you secure enough work to pay your bills?

To find these answers, you probably need to read books and watch videos related to business consulting. But you’d also want to speak to likely customers, to see if and how you could be of help to them. These customers would also be able to give you an idea of how much they would be willing to pay for your services.

If you decided to go ahead with pursuing this career, then the above research will be a good start. But you should keep learning how to improve your skills (including communication and marketing skills), and you should also seek feedback from all your clients — as this will be sure to reveal your strengths and weaknesses.

When it comes to your career, the bottom line is this:

By continually learning relevant, new information, you’ll keep yourself ahead of your competitors. And you’ll also keep yourself in demand from your clients.

Final Thoughts

So, as you can hopefully see from the above, a commitment to lifelong learning will turbocharge your health, happiness and success. And of course, there are more benefits to learning than the ones I’ve listed above. For instance, you’re likely to earn more, you’ll rekindle your zest for life — and you’ll have fun!

In my experience of managing dozens of staff and working with hundreds of life coaching clients, I’ve noticed that those people who have a love for learning, also have a love for life. They’re naturally curious about everything. And this curiosity drives them to seek out new knowledge and skills. They’re also unfazed by change (some of them actually thrive in these circumstances).

If you feel that you’ve lost the ‘learning bug’, then please don’t give up! Reignite your passion for learning through reading self-improvement books, watching inspiring movies, and most importantly… by learning new things!

When you learn how to learn again, your life will be filled with progression and excitement.

More About Learning

Featured photo credit: Clément Falize via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Research Gate: Benefits of Lifelong Learning

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