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A few weeks ago, I wrote about two essential elements to setting goals you’ll keep and accomplish. I included a number of examples of successes I had over the course of the last year or so, and as I wrote, I noticed there was one other thing they all had in common.
It was one thing I’m not sure I would have noticed if I hadn’t also been reading the book, One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way.
All of my goal successes in the past year started with small, manageable steps.
About the Kaizen Way
One Small Step is a brilliant little book with big ideas about small steps to serious change. It busts the myth that “change is hard” through a small steps process, called kaizen.
Kaizen has two definitions.
- using very small steps to improve a habit, process, or product
- using very small moments to inspire new products and inventions
The author, Robert Maurer, Ph.D., distinguishes between innovation and the kaizen way, explaining that the demand for innovation – swift, significant change – can lead to fear. It can actually hold people back from suggesting any changes at all. However, kaizen – or small steps – can help people overcome their fears through seemingly insignificant changes. Added up over time, those small changes result in big improvements.
Maurer writes about six categories of small steps that include asking small questions, thinking small thoughts, taking small actions, solving small problems, bestowing small rewards, and identifying small moments.
This short book is worth the read to change how we think about the challenges in our lives – not as insurmountable mountains to overcome, but rather as a number of small, manageable rocks that we can move one at a time with great success.
What Small Steps Have Meant for Me
In almost all of my recent successes – the goals I achieved or at least accomplished part of – I employed kaizen. At the time I didn’t know I was using the strategy of small steps. I was operating on instinct – the kind that told me I couldn’t start out practicing mindfulness for 30 minutes every day, but that I could practice for 3-5 minutes every day.
In some cases, like with my novel, fear had kept me from writing it for nearly twenty years. I chose small steps by design. My personal rule was that every day in my document file, I had to write at least enough to get to the next page.
Sometimes I only wrote a sentence or a paragraph to get it to move to the next page. That was the bare minimum.
It made each day’s goal seem doable. Most days I wrote more. Much more.
On the flip side, with the 100 Days of Real Food Challenge, some weeks involved small workable steps. In those weeks, I was successful.
Other weeks involved steps that felt too big, out of reach. My brain wasn’t ready to support such big changes. It wasn’t the fault of the challenge, and I appreciated the push. Yet, in those cases, smaller kaizen steps may have led to greater success. In fact, I still have the choice to go back and make that happen.
Kaizen Steps in my Future
Now that I’ve read about kaizen, I’m being more intentional about my goals and the small steps that will get me there. For example, I have two goals in progress right now and I’m using small steps.
First, I’m conquering the chaos mountain of my office desk in one item a day. I put away or recycle or otherwise declutter one item each day. That may not seem like much, and yet you’d be surprised at how much lighter I feel every time I put a paper or file folder or pen or owl pellets (yup, owl pellets) in its rightful place. More so, I think twice before I leave something new just lying around.
My second goal? An e-book for all of you.
It’s on a similar theme, moving your own personal mountain (whatever it may be) one rock at a time. It’s about getting out of ruts, finding inspiration, and opening up to new ways of thinking. It’s about change on a small scale, made painless and fun, and taking tiny chances to explore the larger experiences many of us long for.
I’m writing a small section each day until it’s complete.
I can’t wait to share it with you.
In fact, I’m so ready to share it, that I’m starting my search for beta readers.
What are beta readers, you might ask? They’re a select group of people who will get to read my ebook before anyone else. I’ll ask them to share constructive feedback (Don’t worry! I can take it. 🙂 to help me improve it.
There are two ways to get on the list – email me or like my Acorn Oak Forest page on Facebook and send me a private message. I’ll only be accepting the first 20 individuals as beta readers, so please let me know soon.
What big challenge do you have that could be best accomplished by starting with small steps? What small steps will you use?
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:
- 280 Day Challenge – Treat Your Dream like It’s Your Baby
- How to Achieve Your Goal by Changing How You Think About It
- Get Tons Done: Schedule a Marathon Day for Your Goal
- Creating a 4-Point Motivation Plan for Your Goal
- Short Term Goal – Long Term Vision