Kaizen, directly translated from Japanese, means “good change.” But the deeper meaning is: “small daily improvements over time that lead to exponential results.”
To use kaizen for self improvement, break down any goal into an action step so small that you can complete it immediately. That is a kaizen habit.
Make each task so simple that there is no excuse to put it off. If you can’t, don’t, or won’t get started right away, the task is not small enough.
This is where the power of kaizen lies. Instead of doing nothing, you’ve done something. Metaphorically, that is a 100% improvement from before. This is astounding progress, and infinitely better than skipping something completely.
Because objects in motion are easier to keep in motion, you might find yourself doing much more than the original habit. But, don’t think about that. That may stop you from trying.
Instead, think about how easy it would be to complete one of these simple habits right away. You don’t need to do anything more than that in this moment.
You can learn much more about kaizen and stacking up these “quick wins” in the Helm platform.
25 Kaizen Habit Ideas
Helm uses a set of “mental health metrics” to track your growth and progress. Some of these metrics include your mood, energy, connection, and physicality. As you complete some of these kaizen habits, notice how they provide an immediate, real-world boost to your “personal stats”.
1. Push to Start
Do 3 pushups or bodyweight squats. Do more only if you feel like it.
2. Food for Thought
Eat one healthy snack, like a piece of fruit or a cut up vegetable.
3. Top ‘Er Off
Drink one glass of water.
4. Get Squared Away
Clean up one small portion of your home.
5. Sugar Sober
Avoid candy, sweets, and soda for the rest of this single day.
6. Step Up
The next time you have the opportunity, take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Write down the most important goal for today.
8. Make A Plan
Build a short to-do list of work and errands for tomorrow.
9. Stash Some Away
Transfer a small amount of money into savings, no matter how little it may feel.
10. Kitchen Duty
Do the dishes, scrub the sink, and wipe down the counters. Too much? Clean one dish.
11. Streamline Your Tech
Re-organize the desktop and folders on your computer.
Complete an extremely small home improvement project. Fix a cracked outlet, replace your air filter, or change a light bulb.
13. Make The Call
Take care of that one phone call you’ve been avoiding.
14. Keeping It Easy
Listen to relaxation playlists for a while. Try meditation, spa, or nature sounds music.
15. Forgive and Forget
Think of a time you fell short or felt ashamed. Forgive yourself out loud for that specific moment, ten times.
16. Finger Guns
Give a stranger a genuine compliment and walk away.
Text a friend to just say hello and catch up. Don’t worry if you do not get a response. This is about reaching out.
18. Stay Fresh
Brush your teeth AND floss today. Imagine not being shamed by your dentist for once.
Find a stretch for a specific muscle that feels tight. Stretch it for 30 seconds.
20. Off The Sauce
Avoid alcohol for one day.
21. Do Your Part
Make a small online donation to a non-profit organization that focuses on fixing a problem you are passionate about.
22. Take A Real Lunch
Spend a lunch break away from your phone. Enjoy the outdoors if possible, and take a walk.
23. It’s Not Cold, It’s Refreshing
At the end of your shower, turn the water all the way to cold. Breathe heavily and stay calm for 30 seconds. Notice how powerfully alert and awake you now feel.
24. Give Thanks
Out loud, say three things you are currently grateful for.
25. A Page Out of Their Book
Read a single page of a book you’ve been putting off (or a healthy online article).
Great kaizen habits build upon each other. If you complete any of these super-simple habits day after day, you can make massive progress without massive effort.
Eventually, you won’t need kaizen because you’ve slowly developed a habit at a pace that was enjoyable. You’ll start to automatically complete your daily routine with full workouts, longer reading sessions, and the intentional practice of new skills.
If you find yourself skipping an important habit for multiple days or weeks, start over with kaizen. Make it easy and exciting to bring simple habits back into your life.
One of the best ways to complete kaizen habits is to place them inside a strong routine. But many people go way too hard when first building their daily routine. Instead, why not try a daily template instead?
A daily template (or a Day Map) is a Helm concept that allows for more flexibility (and takes less discipline). You can download a few Day Map examples and the simple-but-effective printable template here:
Make daily routines better with the Day Map template:
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