Do you have goals you have yet to get started on? I know I do – some are big and lofty, some just seem big. That’s why I am embracing the Japanese Kaizen philosophy of slow, continuous improvement. I espouse the virtues of the philosophy to my organizing and time management clients, so I am taking my own advice. I’m coupling Kaizen with eating your elephant one bite at a time – it’s the perfect recipe for overcoming the negative inertia that keeps us from moving forward. It’s a ridiculously simple idea – break your goals into bite sized chunks, be consistent in applying effort, evaluate progress, make changes if needed, and be prepared to see your goals achieved.
Here in the northeast Fall is fast approaching, and somehow this feels like a good time for goal setting. Spring has that effect on me too. It’s really about the transitioning of the seasons, they’re a natural time for reassessing what’s working well and what’s not. How can we be serving ourselves, our families, and our communities better? How can we live everyday a little more authentically and spend more time focusing on the things that really matter? These questions are loaded, no doubt about that, but if we ask them with open minds and open hearts the answers are practically guaranteed be profound.
I believe we all deserve to live well, to really, truly enjoy our lives. And it doesn’t take buckets of money. You don’t have to wait until your next big promotion, meet your ideal partner or find the perfect house. Stop obsessing about what you don’t have (yet), focus on what you do have and make the most of it. Notice the parenthetical yet. It’s there because I am not suggesting that you give up on having what you desire. You should have what you want, but if you’re focused on what you don’t have, you probably aren’t making any headway toward realizing your goals.
What I suggest is that you take a look at your life and pick one area you’d like to feel better about. Maybe you want more work/life balance. Perhaps you just want to share more family dinners. Or maybe you have a big dream, one you have yet to take action on, like starting a business or running a marathon. Whatever your issue, it’s time to eat the elephant.
Big goals can be overwhelming. Worrying about how we will ever reach them can be paralyzing. But if we break goals down into little bites we can see that each piece is very manageable and the overwhelm should naturally dissipate. In breaking goals down we also gain clarity – it’s easy to identify what the next action needs to be. And that supports taking consistent action, because each step is manageable. We can also easily assess what’s working and what isn’t.
So, are you ready to embrace the Kaizen philosophy? Use the Goal Setting Worksheet (there’s a sample goal to show you just how easy it is) to break your overall goal down into bite sized pieces and start eating your elephant: day-by-day, bite-by-bite.
Little bites on a daily basis will take you places you can only imagine in this moment, but before long what you’ve imagined will be your new reality!
**Photo credit: Brian Snelson via Flickr