You Need the Kaizen Method and Don’t Even Know It

We all struggle with getting stuff done. For some things, it’s because that stuff seems insurmountable. One way to solve this is to get a little better each day, which is the Kaizen method.

I learned about the Kaizen method by listening to this podcast episode with Robert Maurer, who wrote a book on it. To no one’s surprise, I have not written a book on it. I’d strongly recommend listening to it yourself.

That being said, quite simply, it’s all about small victories. To build a habit, you need to make it super-easy. I mean, ridiculously easy. They talk about some examples but I’ll throw this personal story out there.

After listening to this podcast a few months ago, I thought about many ways to improve. Last year, I had too many issues with my teeth. Think, root canal. I swore that I needed to take better care of my teeth. There were two things that the dentist suggested.

  • Flossing regularly
  • Using mouthwash

Using mouthwash wasn’t that big of an issue but flossing? I’ve tried a few times with absolutely no success. So how was I to get myself to floss more regularly? I had to make it much easier to succeed. I had to minimize the friction. Waiting until the end of the night to floss when I’m already half asleep was a non-starter. Having the flossing picks in the bathroom drawer made it worse.

So what if I moved the floss to other areas? I put some flossing picks in my desk, which is also in the same room as the tv. I put some picks on the nightstand next to my bed. While watching tv or trolling friends on Facebook, I could easily grab a pick and scrape away.

Sure enough, I was flossing more than I had ever done in my life. And then something went wrong. My living arrangements got shifted around slightly and I didn’t have picks in those areas anymore. Immediately, I stopped flossing.

This is why Maurer’s comment from the podcast struck me so much as I just re-listened to it.

“The good news is that the brain is a creature of habit. The bad news is that the brain is a creature of habit. Anything you do regularly, the brain starts to commit cells to.”

I experienced both sides of that comment at the snap of a finger. It didn’t take much for me to switch back to not flossing.

The good news is that I just needed to minimize the friction to re-find success. I’ve once again placed picks in easy to access areas and I’m back to flossing more regularly.

Coincidentally, I was with a friend of mine recently and he has a big of picks in his car. Makes sense as long as I don’t find myself sitting on one.

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