We all have lists of things we would like to accomplish; personal goals or dreams we wish to achieve (some of which we know, if we really focused could be). I think we all love the idea of starting something new, the possibilities of ticking it off ‘our list’ gets us excited, but then life gets in the way, and those long held dreams seem to fade… we procrastinate and lose faith in ourselves to get things done. (And by things, I don’t mean everyday tasks, like paying bills, getting the car MOTd, or the freezer fixed: things we HAVE to do otherwise face a fine, somehow they always get done.) Perhaps there is some truth that we are more motivated by a punishment (a fine, or breaking the law) than a reward!
We all have good intentions, and we may even start on our goal, but then something stops us. We get distracted, we get disrupted, and suddenly we think, “Well I tried that, but it didn’t get very far, perhaps I was never meant to [learn a language, write a book, visit that country]” and we lose faith in our ability and stop ‘dreaming’ of these lofty goals altogether.
So, why does this keep happening? Well, perhaps you’re trying to do too much. Learning a new habit – or routine – is difficult, and committing to long periods of changed behaviour at the beginning is really hard. We like the path of least resistance… who really wants to put their running shoes on when it’s raining outside, or turn on our computer to write 3 chapters, when we’ve had a hellish day at work?
This is where Kaizen comes into its own!
The Japanese culture has an interesting and often useful practice called ‘Kaizen’ – which sees a ‘one minute’ principle being utilised in such instances. It’s based on practising something for a full minute, each day, every day for it to become a habit. 60 seconds is nothing, right? Who can’t write, or do sit ups, or repeat a new word in another language, for 60 seconds?
Kaizen – /kʌɪˈzɛn/ noun – a Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement of working practices, personal efficiency, etc. Kai -> change zen-> good
Kaizen originated in Japan, and was invented by Masaaki Imai. When you put the two roots of the words together, it means “change for the better.” Imai says, “The message of the Kaizen strategy is that not a day should go by without some kind of improvement being made somewhere.”
Fear of failure usually prevents us from trying – it’s something we don’t like to admit, or see. Which ironically in turn, helps us to achieve our goals using this technique. Why? Well if we only commit to a minute, what then usually happens is our ‘need to finish’ kicks in, and the chapter that requires just three lines (if we take our 60 seconds seriously) will often lead to several paragraphs. But because we’ve promised ourselves an ‘end in sight’ we approach it with little fear of failure.
This then turns the experience into joy, rather than pain. We’ve accomplished something – what we set out to do, we’ve done – and we all like the feeling of that. Experiencing satisfaction will always propel us to continue with that activity and gifts us the sense that ‘we can’ rather than ‘we can’t.’ Its these small rounds of victory which will propel you forward and encourage you to finish.
You’ll probably find that your 60 seconds will turn into five minutes, or half an hour. Before you know it you’ll be doing this ‘thing’ regularly – it’s amazing what 60 seconds can do to get your list checked off.
Challenging yourself is super important, but setting mini goals is the key to getting big projects done. You can’t train for a marathon in one day, you have to work at it, bit by bit. The same goes for writing a book. You don’t just sit down and write in one go (although I’m sure some have tried) it’s about finding joy in your purpose.
Smaller challenges (60 seconds) combined with every day practice will give you results. Committing to something you know you can achieve is much more realistic than setting down to a mammoth task. Be kind to yourself, and work smart.
Try it and see how it works for you – you’ll be amazed at the result.
If you want to write a book, but only have a seed of an idea – get in touch. I can help you get your idea of out your head and into print. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Thank you, Alexa for a fantastic session today. You have an amazing ability to draw out thoughts and ideas in my mind into a cohesive and logical flow. You’ve given me a framework and structure to build on and allowed the book to form itself whilst keeping me on track. If you want a mentor to help you get your thoughts into action I can wholeheartedly recommend Alexa x” – Nikki Edwards.