One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way

Notes

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Kaizen has two definitions: using very small steps to improve a habit, a process, or product using very small moments to inspire new products and inventions

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If health were my first priority, what would I be doing differently today? What is one way I can remind myself to drink more water? How could I incorporate a few more minutes of exercise into my daily routine?

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mouth goes dry. Your insides begin to buzz. Even if you’re not aware of it, your fight-or-flight response is kicking in; that feeling you might call “writer’s block” is actually fear. The question you’ve asked yourself is too large and frightening. You’ve awakened your amygdala, and your cortex has simply shut down.

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Whom could I ask for help or inspiration? What is special about my creative process/talents/business team? What type of work would excite and fulfill me? Remember: If you repeat the question over the course of several days or weeks—or for however long it takes—the hippocampus (the part of the brain that stores information) will have no choice but to address it. And in its own way, on its own timetable, the brain will begin giving you answers.

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As you begin, remember that you are reprogramming your brain, and that it takes time for new mental pathways to develop. So choose a question and ask it repeatedly over the course of several days or weeks.

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If you are unhappy but aren’t sure why, try asking yourself this: If I were guaranteed not to fail, what would I be doing differently?

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If you are trying to reach a specific goal, ask yourself every day: What is one small step I could take toward reaching my goal?

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What is one small step I could take to improve my health (or relationships, or career, or any other area)?

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Is there a person at work or in my personal life whose voice and input I haven’t heard in a long time? What small question could I ask this person?

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What’s one good thing about this person?

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What is one small thing that is special about me (or my spouse, or my organization)?

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Mind sculpture, developed by Ian Robertson, is a newer technique that involves total but still-imaginary sensory immersion. It requires its practitioners to pretend that they are actually engaged in the action, not just seeing but hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching. In mind sculpture, people imagine the movement of their muscles, and the rise and fall of their emotions.

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Michael Phelps.

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And you may find that a single tiny change, perhaps taking just five minutes every night to pick up stray toys and household objects, satisfies your goal of a cleaner house.

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I’d rather they go home and meditate for one minute than not meditate for thirty minutes. They might like it. They may forget to stop.”

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After a month of flossing one tooth every day, they have two things: one very clean tooth and a habit of picking up that silly string.

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one of the most solid predictors of success in life is whether a person turns to another human for support in times of trouble or fear.

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“What questions did the candidate ask each of you?”

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Her lack of curiosity suggested an unwillingness to listen, a penchant for action over understanding, and an inclination to demand obedience rather than to inspire.

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Any resistance to the small step you have chosen. The challenge is to make the step so small that it is effortless. If your inner voice is harsh and angry at you for not making the change sooner, it will demand a bigger step than may be practical. Remember, you are counting on the repetition of the small step to “program” the brain for the life changes you wish to make. Even small signs that you are resisting the small step—that you are having to push yourself to do the step—are an indication that the step is too big, inviting the amygdala and the harsh voice to awaken and interfere.

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“I want to make the best of each day that I have, and I want to get more chores done.” By “chores,” she specified doing all the paperwork for

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Each morning, Becky wrote a list of chores. She put a star next to each chore with which she’d like to have assistance and described the specific help she’d like.