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The Kaizen Philosophy: Getting Big Results from Small Changes

Hello my friends. Welcome to episode 11 of the Motivating Mom podcast. 11 is my favorite number so we are going to talk about one of my favorite topics, purposeful growth one step at a time.

But first, I want to remind you about our FREE Mommy Reset. It’s a ten day video series that I put together with my dear friend Mareya Ibrahim, where our goal is to help you get out of overwhelm and in to the living a life you love to live. We will guide you through baby steps to get there! Go to our show notes for a link to the Mommy Reset.


At the time of this recording it is February 3, 2015. Just a little over a month in to the new year? Did you set any resolutions or goals for yourself? How are you doing? If you're on track, please share how you are doing it. For most of us, we find ourselves missing the target. It's really no wonder. I'm guessing that you set your sights on some pretty big goals. Most of us try to do too much, too hard, too fast. Why do we expect ourselves to eliminate whole food groups or completely change our exercise routine and have success? Success comes not from a quantum leap but instead from baby steps made every day.

Today we are going to talk about a new approach to moving towards your goals. Some call it Kaizen. It’s a Japenese term. Kai means ‘change’ Zen means ‘good’. It focuses on continual, incremental improvement. One of the most notable features of kaizen is that big results come from many small changes which build up over time. The spirit of kaizen is reflected in that mighty ocean being made up of tiny drops of water. This does not mean that Kaizen brings small changes. You can apply it to any part of your life from knowledge to fitness, from parenting to business. What big change could you create by taking a small step towards it every day? Dream big but then break it down. What is the next step? What small step could you take daily towards your goal? You don’t have to have every step figured out. Just take the next step. And then the next day, take the next step.

Really, what you are doing is building new habits. A Stanford researcher named B.J. Fogg once looked at habit formation. They focused on how to get people to floss their teeth. The answer was one tooth at a time. They told the subjects just to floss one tooth when they brushed their teeth. That was do doable that they complied. And, they built a habit. And started flossing them all.

One of the reasons they believe this works is because we have a dissonance with starting something new. My Master’s degree is in Psychology so I love this stuff. I’m fascinated with how we need to trick the brain. It’s called the Zeigernik effect. A psychologist named Bluma Zeigernik found you are less likely to procrastinate once you start doing a task. So, I’m telling you to start, no matter how small the task is.

For the last three years (maybe more than that), I’ve talked about writing my next book. I have it in my heart and feel compelled to write it. But I haven’t. Because I keep looking at it as a giant project. And I’m too busy to fit in yet another giant project. This year, I’m going to write that book with more of a Kazien approach.

One of my wonderful franchisees, Carol Chase sent me a present that is kicking this off. She sent me a sheet It’s from a site called Elise Joy. I will put the website in the show notes so you can check it out. The sheet says: Big Things Happen One Day At A Time. What Will You Do? And then the sheet has each day of the year numbered. You are supposed to check off every day that you work towards your goal. So, I am using it to write my book. At some point, every day, my goal is to sit down for 11 minutes and write. It’s only been a month and I’m already done with two chapters. And, I’m really loving it! So, what can you move towards on a daily basis?

This baby step concept has appealed to me for a long time. I think I told you in a past podcast how I used to get through school by breaking things down. If reading a book was too overwhelming, I would break it down to a chapter. If that was too overwhelming, I would break it down to paragraphs. And if that was too overwhelming, I would take it a sentence at a time. Sounds tedious I know. But it got me through a step at a time. And eventually I built the stamina that I could take bigger steps.

If you like this concept, you must read The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. Again, I’ll put the link for the book in the show notes at www.fit4mom.com/podcast. I think that this book is such a game changer that I actually am paying my son Jacob to read it. It’s an amazing strategy for life. Jeff Olson says that the slight edge is either working for you or against you. There is no standing still. So at any time, you are making very small, seemingly inconsequential decisions that are either making your life better or worse. In one example, Jeff gives a great example of compound interest. If you were offered $1,000,000 (one million dollars) right now, or a penny a day, doubled each day, for one month, which would you choose? Unless you've read this illustration before, like most people, you'll probably choose the right-now million. But you'd be making the wrong choice. One penny, doubled every day for a month adds up to $10,737,418...and 24 cents. It’s compound interest.

Where might compound interest be adding up in your life? You aren’t overweight from one gian meal. It is the culmination of small choices made every single day that contribute to obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes. But those small choices can work in your favor too.

Stop trying to make a dramatic change. Just make a slight choice better from the day before. Every time you have a decision to make, ask yourself how you can better it by one degree. If you were to improve just (3/10th of 1%) per day, you would improve 100% in one year!

The key here is to be consistent. Plan how you are going to make your small step each day. You don’t have to be perfect to gain traction. Stay focused on your goal and stay positive. Your brain functions better when it is focused on the positive. That’s why it’s so great to be part of a village like FIT4MOM, or part of a mastermind group or club that is focused on a positive purpose. Stop focusing on short term results. Commit to your purpose for the next year (or longer) and see where that takes you.

So, today is a new day. How are you going to approach 2015? My hope is that you commit to 3/10th of a percent better than yesterday. 95% of people will fail at their grand resolutions. How about this year you go after the slight edge?

Links for today's show:

Meal Planner

Passion Project - BeYOUtiful