Small steps toward change

Recently I took a class offered by the Institute for Challenging Disorganization titled Kaizen – The Next Step for the Chronically Disorganized Client. It was a fascinating class. Kaizen is a word which comes from two Japanese roots, kai which means change and zen which means good. During this class I learned that when a person is taught how to make small changes toward a stated goal there is a better chance of success. You might wonder why that is true. Let’s think about this. I am going to use the example of a lifestyle change. Let’s say that ‘Joe’ wants to get in better shape. She decides that she needs to lose some weight and become more physically fit. She has been eating mostly fast food and has never been accustomed to  regular exercise at all. The reason that Joe decided to make this change is that she wants to be in better shape for her high school reunion. The first method Joe tries is a crash diet which made her hungry, cranky and generally out of sorts. She also decides she is going to exercise at a local gym everyday. After one week of trying this method Joe has gone off the crash diet – good thing since that is not at all a healthy approach and she stopped exercising after day three because her muscles were so sore. If I apply the Kaizen philosophy to Joe’s situation I think it would look something like this: Joe would sign up to work with a nutritionist. The nutritionist would teach Joe about some healthy foods to begin incorporating into her meal planning. Every time they met the nutritionist would have a few more changes for Joe to make. Joe would feel full, enjoy the meals she is making and weight would come off slowly and steadily. Joe would also sign up to work out with a trainer a few times a week. The trainer would teach Joe some exercises which would make her stronger and tone her muscles. The trainer would also encourage Joe in incorporate other daily exercise into her routine. Things that Joe might enjoy doing with her friends like swimming or walking or biking. The lesson here is that small changes which are not too tough bring results and are easier to maintain.

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