The Art Of Continuous Improvement

We are going a little Eastern today with a philosophy that kicks ass when it comes to achieving stuff.

I think deep down we all want to improve ourselves, even slightly, but being on the self development train can often feel like you’re travelling through the Rocky Mountains of Canada. The journey can be up, up and up and then, down, down, down and full of unexpected corners. Sometimes it’s just too much. However, there is a way to not only enjoy your trip but also achieve those big hairy audacious goals (BHAG) we have set ourselves along the way.

BHAG’s are great aren’t they? Not for me they’re not. They scare the crap out of me. They scare me so much that I quite often get nowhere towards achieving what I want because the mountain is seemingly too steep to climb and there are no footholds in sight.

I have so many wonderful ambitions and to this day most of them remain on the BHAG shelf because the view from the bottom is too daunting for me. But with a little patience, a new plan and different way of looking at my goals I’m really excited to move forward a little more than I have in the past.

I’ve failed so much in my life and at times I’ve felt like just joining the masses with a job I’m not passionate about and just settling for what I’ve got. The ups and the downs of self development have worn me down. But I just can’t do it. I’ve tried and it doesn’t work for me but the comfort of getting a pay cheque at the end of the week and doing the 9-5 is somewhat appealing at times.

How many times have you wanted to lose weight or reduce some of your debt and made a big plan to change your life, once again? It’s exciting for a few days especially when you’re on track but then ‘something’ happens and nek minute you’re face deep into a cheese pizza after a shit day at work where the boss screamed at you and you are way behind your sales targets or that damn car registration ‘overdue’ notice comes in demanding payment pronto or guess what, its a toddle off to the train station for you. WTF man. You’re trying so hard and stuff was going well and then the universe slaps you back down. It’s hardly fair is it.

That feeling of failure sucks man. We’ve all felt it right. So to inspire you to get back on the horse, so to speak, this blog isn’t going to show you a super cheesy motivational video of supreme athletes, ripped and punishing themselves throughout a series of muscle ups or our mate Dwayne The Rock Johnson yelling at you to sort your shit out because if he can get up at 4am to do cardio before a 16 hour day on the set of Baywatch, then so can you. There is a gentler way. A kinder way to ease the BHAG blues, to calm the overwhelming feeling and the failure you’ve faced in the past.

It’s never going to be easy and anyone who thinks that self-improvement stops when you reach your goal is dreaming. Self improvement is continuous. We often fall back into our old patterns or even go backwards in progress when we reach a certain point and get comfortable with where we are. By keeping ahead of the game and continuously improving we reduce the likelihood of sliding down the mountain again.

So are you ready for a different approach?

It’s the art of continuous improvement that gets us to where we want and keeps moving us forward. The Japanese have a word for this; it’s call Kaizen.

It’s nothing woo woo but there is a certain amount of commitment involved. It’s simple and breaks down BHAG’s into little bite size chunks, achievable milestones if you like.

Instead of staring at your goal on your beautifully designed vision board with nothing but dread at the prospect of tackling such a mighty beast of a goal why not just focus on making very small improvements every day. Take the stress out of self-improvement and also the urgency that overwhelming goals produce and chunk down your goal into achievable, bite-size portions and plug away bit by bit.  Make it easy and make sure your milestone itty bitty goals are super achievable. Bit by bit you’ll get there.

Here’s an example I found in The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss; Dr B. J. Fogg the founder of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University wrote his dissertation (I’m not sure how many words he wrote but the average dissertation is between 10-15,000 words) at a rate distinctively different from his peers. Instead of looking at the mountain and freaking out he wrote one sentence per day and finished his dissertation in record time while his classmates remained at the bottom of the hill, overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.

So whatever goal you might have break it on down. Relax. Adopt the Kaizen approach and have fun at improving bit by bit, day by day.


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