New years resolutions. You promise yourself you’ll quit smoking, lose ten pounds, take that vacation or buy that dream car. Did you know that 93.5% of new years resolutions are never followed through on? Okay, I made up that statistic, but it’s believable, isn’t it? Time for some new ideas.
New Ideas For New Years Resolutions
How about a resolution to do the things which make all your goals more achievable? You can’t make a lot of money if you don’t have the habits that lead to that. You can’t have better physical conditioning if you just start another exercise program and then quit. You have to change your mind before the rest will change. Here are some new ideas for that interior self improvement.
Kaizen For The New Year
Kaizen: “Japanese for continuous and incremental improvement, a business philosophy about working practices and efficiency.” What does this have to do with self improvement and new years resolutions?
First came the “continuous improvement” theories of efficiency expert W. Edwards Deming in the 30s and 40s. After the war his ideas were picked up by the Japanese and developed into “Kaizen,” a method for efficiently creating quality products through small and continuous changes. Guess what? This is perfect for accomplishing your personal goals, too.
Want to quit smoking? The kaizen way might be to stop smoking in your car, as the first small step. Then you could switch to a brand with less nicotine, stop smoking in the house, and so on.
Kaizen uses “small questions.” In factories this meant no more questions like “What are you going to do to improve the company profits this year?” That elicits fear more than creative ideas. A better question is, “What small change could we make in your department to reduce expenses or improve quality?” This approach was found to be far more productive.
For purposes of improving your life, this means asking small suggestive questions, like, “What could I do to free up five minutes for my meditation practice?” or “What small change could I make if I wanted to improve my relationships today?” Small questions dispell the fear, intimidation, and procrastination that come with facing the issue head-on.
Small questions, small comfortable changes, and continual progress – that’s kaizen. Imagine where you’d be if you had consciously made one small change in your life each week for the last few years. Better yet, imagine where you’ll be next year, if you start the process today.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” – Lao Tzu
Forget The Affirmations
Stand in front of that mirror if you want, repeating to yourself “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.” If it doesn’t do what you hope, though, here’s a new idea (okay, an old idea renewed): Evidence is more convincing than affirmation. To that I add: What you look for, you find, and it changes your mind.
Prove this to yourself by watching for nice people for a few days, making a mental note each time you see one. It will change your experience of people in a positive way. Then, to test the idea further, watch for rude people for a few days, and you’ll see them all over. Do this exercise, and you’ll quickly come to understand that you experience the world not just according to what is there, but even more according to what you pay attention to.
To use this to motivate yourself towards positive change, find your successes. If your new years resolution is to exercise more, notice when you remember to park farther away from the store so you have to walk. Write it down even. Point out your successes to yourself, and you’ll start to have more of them. If you want to lose weight, note everytime you walk past the refrigerator without opening it. Focus on and remember any success. You can start doing this right now.
First things first. Resolve to change the habits in your mind. Isn’t that better than the typical new years resolutions?
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