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Last Updated on February 3, 2021

How Continuous Improvement Can Enhance Your Personal Life

How Continuous Improvement Can Enhance Your Personal Life

Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy and practice of continuous improvement[1]. 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 program for Japan, the Japanese were invited to visit manufacturing plants throughout the USA. The Japanese took this successful concept of continuous improvement and adapted it 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 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 to live our lives to the fullest by continuously learning, growing and thriving.

We live in a world of neverending 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 Is Continuous Improvement?

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 improvements 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, 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 the 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 often leads to one big failure after another.

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

Continuous improvement techniques 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 come as a result of you taking continuous, small, 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 by solving problems and building improvement strategies that work.

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 and removing barriers that get in the way.Once you have accepted that your journey to improving your life is lifelong and are ready to look into ideas for improvement, 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.

The concept of continuous improvement provides you with a system or a process that will enable you to confidently achieve any goal you set.

“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, 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 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, 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, but 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 behaviors 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% every week after that. Keep going until the debt is paid off.

3. Keep Track of Your 1% Success

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

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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 subconscious 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 you can achieve your goals and succeed in life!

Focus on 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 Tips to Keep Improving

Featured photo credit: Rochelle Nicole via unsplash.com

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Reference

More by this author

Kathryn Sandford

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

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Last Updated on April 8, 2021

11 Best Self-Improvement Classes in 2021

11 Best Self-Improvement Classes in 2021

Even during the midst of a pandemic, self-improvement is still a crucial aspect to our lives today. There are tonnes of articles that you could be reading from our site or from others. However, the articles aren’t able to provide the depth and the growth you need when compared to courses or programs.

So if you are looking to step up your own self-improvement and invest in yourself and the life you want to lead, here are some of the best self-improvement classes to consider.

But before getting to that, here is the criteria that we use to determine these courses. All of these qualities have been present in the best self-improvement classes we could find:

  • Little commitment – All these courses can be done in the comfort of your own home and at your own pace as well. Most of these courses recommend spending a few hours each week on their material.
  • Prestigious – These courses are done by recognizable institutes with good reputation on their education quality.
  • Leverage on skillset – Each of the courses focuses on one area of your life, however it also helps develop other areas of your life at the same time.

1. Lifehack Mastercourses & Free Fast-Track Classes

Lifehack isn’t just a blog but rather a hub with all kinds of resources at people’s disposal. You may already be familiar with our particular workbooks, but we also provide courses of our own.

The first set of courses are free courses that are designed to teach you about your full life skills – the Fast-Track Classes. Specifically, we’ll be focusing on skills that multiply your time, energy, and the overall quality of your life. There are four courses that are about 20 minutes long each ensuring you have the tools and resources you need to achieve your goals fast:

Our second set of courses are the courses where we help you break free of your limitations to become the best version of yourself. These courses aren’t free, but each course goes into extensive detail on everything from motivation, overcoming challenges and staying focused to improving your overall learning capabilities, controlling your emotions and mindset:

2. The Truth Seeker’s Handbook

In a world where everything can be implied, half-true or misleading, how are you able to tell whether something is actually true? How are you able to convince other people to believe in the facts presented?

There is a lot of research out there showing that the human mind is prone to making thinking errors. We fall into predictable mistakes that lead us to believe in lies that are comforting for us and that the truth is an inconvenience for us. The mistakes we make lead us to be vulnerable and we ultimately make decisions under false beliefs.

This cycle goes on to cause all kinds of pain in our lives in many ways. However, cognitive and behavioral scientists have been able to uncover and find useful strategies we can use to overcome these mental flaws.

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One such method is through the course The Truth Seeker’s Handbook. It’s a 4-week book club micro-course hosted by Dr. Gleb Tsipursky. Through these courses, members will learn how to recognize resist biases in their own thoughts and make truth-based decisions by reading Dr. Gleb’s book The Truth Seeker’s Handbook. Enroll now before the next session begins!

3. The Science Of Well-Being

Yale University has been around for over 300 years at this point and one of the most popular classes in that time span is this one: The Science of Well-Being. After all this time, Yale is providing this course to everyone for free.

In this class, Yale Psychology Professor Laurie Santos introduced this class as “Psychology and the Good Life” in spring 2018. The class was designed to help students in navigating anxiety, depression, and stress in their lives. The class at the time was so popular that roughly a quarter of Yale undergraduates enrolled in it that spring.

Going into more detail about this course, this 4-week course is designed to provide a step-by-step process for boosting happiness. The course heavily focuses on positive psychology – what misconceptions we have about happiness and what has been scientifically proven to make us happier.

Enrol in the course here.

4. Learning How To Learn

Another notable course to consider is the Learning How to Learn course. On the platform Coursera, it is one of the most popular and loved courses on the platform with nearly 2 million students enrolled since it’s been there. It’s taught by the distinguished professors Dr. Barbara Oakley and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski.

The premise of the course is what you’d expect, the goal of this course to teach you to learn more. It’ll ultimately lead to you training your brain to effectively process information and learn complicated subjects even. All of this is done through various tools and methods – from stories to goofy animations like surfing zombies, metabolic vampires and an “octopus of attention”.

Enrol in the course here.

5. Mindshift

Another course developed by Dr. Barabara Oakley is this course: Mindshift. If you’re planning to take the course Learning How To Learn, this one builds off of that popular course. Overall, it’s meant to help learners boost their career and life by shifting their mindset to a learning one.

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Dr. Oakley firmly believes that any person can train themselves to learn at any stage in life. She believes that from personal experiences but also how this course is designed. Through this course, you learn how to be seeking out mentors to learn from, how to avoid common learning pitfalls, career ruts, and the general ruts in life.

By the end of this 4-week program, you’ll have access to new tools and strategies to face any career challenge and seek better methods to surmount new learning curves.

Enrol in the course here.

6. De-Mystifying Mindfulness

Mindfulness is something that we’ve all been trying to obtain in recent years and people are noticing it. Whether we strive for this for therapy, lifestyle choice, or for other technology, many of us consider this a pastime we do in solitude at this point.

But despite the number of us practicing mindfulness, not many of us fully grasp it. De-Mystifying Mindfulness is a course designed to help people get up to speed with it through various methods. This course gathers information from various disciplines in science, social sciences and humanities to help unlock and understand mindfulness in its various forms.

This is a truly unique course as it’s rooted in experiential learning mixed with evidence base of what mindfulness can do to people. And a conceptual base of what mindfulness might actually be.

Enrol in the course here.

7. Achieving Personal And Professional Success Specialization

The best way to explain what Achieving Personal And Professional Success Specialization is. is that it’s four of the most popular courses taught by Wharton School, the University of Pennsylvania wrapped into one Specialization. Through these four courses, you’ll be able to maximize your potential and be more successful in both personal and professional life. You’ll learn various techniques and exercises that this school teaches.

Going into more detail the four courses consist of these four:

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  • Success – learn about defining goals, understand how goals connect to long-term images of yourself.
  • Communication skills – tools to improve communication with others. You’ll also learn to take other people’s perspectives, where trust comes from, and build relationships.
  • Leading the Life you want – skills that allow you to lead in the four domains of life: work, home, community, and private.
  • Influence – how to develop it and become more effective in achieving organizational goals.

Enrol in the course here.

8. Think Again

Reasoning is another important aspect of life. Think Again is all about teaching you how to reason and argue well with people without raising your voice and getting flustered. It’s four short courses that explore the logic behind arguments, how we construct arguments and deconstruct them, how to identify and evaluate arguments, and what makes a good argument.

Specifically, you’ll learn about the vital rules to be following in thinking about any topic at all and common and tempting mistakes that people fall into all the time when providing reasoning.

Enrol in the course here.

9. Neuroplasticity

Amongst the scientific and psychology circles, this has become quite the buzzword: Neuroplasticity. The concept promises to rewire our brain and improve everything from health and mental wellbeing to our quality of life. Gregory Caremans teaches the concept of Neuroplasticity and how you can take action and use this to your advantage in the course Neuroplasticity. Through it, you can develop mental flexibility, change habits, stop procrastination and even alter memories.

Gregory is a psychologist with a Master’s in communication and is specialized in Neurocognitive and Behavioral Approach. And even though he comes from a complex field, his course is instructed in such a way that you can easily use this information and apply it in your daily life.

Enrol in the course here.

10. Become A SuperLearner® 2

Similar to Learning How To Learn, this Udemy course Become A SuperLearner® 2 is all about learning faster and unlocking the vast potential of your mind. This course is different though in that it focuses more on improving your ability to learn new skills, provide advanced memory techniques, long-term retention and application of information.

Another way to think about this course is that it looks into cognitive and neurological factors that make learning easier and more successful with longer retention of information.

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Enrol in the course here.

11. Get Beyond Work-Life Balance

The final course on the list is Get Beyond Work-Life Balance. As this course suggests, this is all about getting skills that help you to achieve balance and have effectiveness in both aspects of your life. This applies to both people in leadership roles and for individuals.

The course focuses a lot on the importance of inclusive leadership in creating flexible and productive work environments. Beyond this, the course provides a lot of research and real-work examples from various situations to deliver information and strategies you can apply in your life.

Enrol in the course here.

Final Thoughts

There are all kinds of courses that you can use to further enhance your life – be it personal or professional. And the beauty of personal development courses is the fact they are designed to be applied in your life more readily. You can begin to see the impact and change when applying this information from courses to real life.

As such, we encourage you to try out these courses. They could very well change your life.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

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