How many of us have heard from our parents that if you want to become an expert at something, do it daily? I have heard this for a long but never really paid heed to it until I learned about Kaizen & used it in my daily life.
So what is Kaizen? Kaizen is a Japanese word that means “change for the better” or “continuous improvement.” It is an old technique used by the Japanese to improve business productivity and efficiency by focusing on every small detail and improving how tasks are performed.
Wait what does this has to do with how I can achieve my goal of lifting a certain weight, running a marathon, getting a promotion, creating wealth from the stock market?
Let us hear it from the modern-day Guru(I call him that) Charlie Munger
“Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Day by day, and at the end of the day if you live long enough-like most people, you will get out of life what you deserve.”
Pay attention to how he simply lays it out there for us the secret of his success, going to bed each day a little wiser than we woke up. That is Kaizen in practice.
We tend to overestimate what we can achieve in short term like few weeks or a year but underestimate what can be achieved in 3, 5, or 10 years. The math in the latter is nonlinear and more like compounding so our brain has a hard time contemplating it. The only condition to attain it is to do it regularly.
Let’s boil down to practical steps:
The first step is taking an honest note of where you’re currently with regards to your goal. Brutally honest assessment because to improve you need to know where you stand. Let’s consider you want to run a marathon someday, right now go out and tests how much you can run in one go. 1km or less than that? Fine but test and know your current position.
Next set small goals like daily routine & habit around the activity. Start from now, if you were unable to run a kilometer set a weekly target of being able to do that. Start with 400-500 meters a day and increase it gradually to reach 1km within a week. Remember small goals because you don’t want your mind to feel extremely uncomfortable, if it does it will fight back and prevent the change you want to bring.
Hardly spending 10-15 mins a day initially would help your body to easily adjust to new activity & it won’t resist much. gradual increase every week, within 4 weeks you would be able to spend more than 30-40 mins per day doing the activity. in a few months you would be running a distance you only dreamed of, and within a year you would have inculcated a new habit and a new sport.
Now it won’t exactly pan out as easy as it is to sit and write it up. There are going to be days when you don’t feel like doing it. Take a break, breaks are good as long as they don’t make you quit the activity.
This applies to almost any field you can think of. The daily grind lays a base for compounding of results you will achieve by doing something regularly. An activity did just for 20 mins a day for a year (considering 300 days only) would lead to 600hrs spent performing that activity. I haven’t considered any increase in time.
Imagine what happens when you do it for 3,4 or 5 years? That is the power of small steps taken regularly to improve yourself.