From time to time we have the habit to set ourselves a new goal or challenge just to fail to achieve them at the end. We might even pursue them with zeal at the beginning. But once we have progressed a little, we tell ourselves we’ve done enough, and it’s time to take this whole ‘starting a new life’. Just because we try to achieve too much, too quickly and get sick of the new responsibility also because it’s difficult to change old habits and try something new.
Kaizen, or the one-minute principle
In Japanese culture the existence of the noble practice Kaizen includes the idea of the ‘one-minute principle’ for self-improvement. This method preaches the idea that a person should practice doing something for a single minute, every day exactly at the same time. As such, it shouldn’t cost any trouble for absolutely anyone – even the laziest person – to carry out a given task for such a small amount of time. By taking baby steps at a time, you will find yourself treading towards the path of self-perfection and achieve great results.
Kaizen originated in Japan. The word itself contains two roots – ‘kai’ (change) and ‘zen’ (wisdom). It was invented by Masaaki Imai, who believes this philosophy can be applied just as successfully to the world of business as it can be to one’s personal life.
It’s of immense importance to break free from that lack of confidence you might have in your own abilities, as well as free yourself from those feelings of guilt and helplessness. You need to experience a sense of victory and success to move forward. When such feelings motivate you highly, you will gradually begin to increase the amount of time you spend doing the task which you have set yourself – maybe at first just for five minutes more, but then this will soon turn into half an hour, and then even longer after that.
At first sight, this practice might seem irresolute and ineffective for people who have grown up in Western culture, with its emphasis on the idea that results can be achieved only by applying immense efforts. But elaborate, challenging programmes of self-improvement which deprive a person of huge amounts of energy can simply end up exhausting him, and leave no tangible results, whereas Kaizan is something that anyone can attempt in virtually any sphere of their life. In Japan for example, it is often applied to improve management techniques.