For most people (myself included) change can be overwhelming. Having moved across the country six months ago, just getting married, and starting a brand new career I would be the first person to admit I’m a bit overwhelmed with all of the changes in my life lately. I’ve found that I am not as successful in certain areas of my life that I normally had been (exercise, nutrition, organization among other things) and want to get back on track. The book One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way
by Robert Maurer, Ph. D. was recently brought to my attention by my husband (who had been given the book by a co-worker). The book discusses the Japanese concept of Kaizen – or that small continuous improvements can lead to great change.
First off, Dr. Maurer acknowledges what many people already and know but sometimes refuse to admit. Change is scary. Change is difficult. And change can be overwhelming. Instead of advising massive sweeping life changes he recommends small, attainable changes that take little time on a daily basis to build to a larger long-term change. His major points are:
- Ask small questions.
- Think small thoughts.
- Take small actions.
- Solve small problems.
Solving small problems can lead to resolving larger problems. Dr. Maurer gives examples on both a personal level by sharing some of his patients’ stories, and also with large scale changes made by major corporations. His thought process can apply to weight loss, nutrition, organization, building fitness, and even large scale manufacturing. His examples are inspiring and more importantly attainable to people who are pressed for time, money and will-power.
One example in the book was a patient that was overweight, out of shape and needed to improve her health. Instead of suggesting a five day per week, 30 minute workout, Dr. Maurer’s first suggestion was just ONE minute per day of exercise. Simple marching in place at home which is easy for anyone to implement even with limited free time. Eventually this patient added a minute at a time where over the course of a few months she had a regular exercise program that did include the 30 minutes per day, five days per week. Her success is credited to just a small reasonable change that was built up as a series of small changes instead of one massive overhaul at once. She was set up to succeed rather than be overwhelmed and fail.
Personally, I am going to try this out in organizing my home. My goal for this week is to spend five minutes per day each week sorting/tossing/filing/answering the mail as it comes in, instead of staring at the big pile that builds all week!