Day 77: Kaizen
Every day matters, because if you think about it, that’s when life happens. We don’t always seize every day, though, do we? We sit in front of our TVs and binge watch some show on Netflix; or we go out and get drunk and wake up the next morning with no idea what happened the night before and consider that living; or we procrastinate by sitting in front of our computers all day surfing the net with the vague notion in our minds that we’re doing “research” but instead spend god knows how many hours watching vloggers on YouTube rant about their day. Ironic, right?
A few years ago I came across the Japanese word Kaizen. In short, kaizen means continuous improvement. Toyota made it popular last century with how they built their cars, and once people started associating Japanese cars with quality and dependability and American cars as the opposite of that, American companies began adopting this philosophy, which they continue to use to this day with how reliable its been for them.
We can’t expect to wake up one morning and expect to be the best at whatever it is we’re striving for. We’ll only be disappointing ourselves, and instead of doing something about it, we don’t. We drift. Continuous improvement means incremental changes we actively focus on every day. Every. Day.
We all have our goals. We all want to be somebody better than who we are today. We want to be fitter, smarter, famous, etc. Instead of getting up one morning and running a 5k when we’ve never run a 5k in our lives, we should instead focus on building the habit of running. That could mean running down the block and back and calling it good for the day. The next day, we run down the block plus a few feet around the corner and back again. The next month we could be running a few laps around the block. Eventually we’ll be able to run that 5k no problem. That’s not where we should stop, though. One day, maybe we start our day with a 5k run as just a warmup because we’re training to run a 25k. Or an Iron Man competition. Or maybe we just wanted to build up our cardio so we could swim across the Atlantic or something.
The point is: we should do something to advance ourselves every day in some way. We should ask ourselves every morning how we can make today better than yesterday. Benjamin Franklin created a daily schedule where every morning he would ask himself, “What good shall I do this day?” And every night, he asked himself, “What good have I done today?”
I want to finish my novel, so every day I write 300 words toward accomplishing that. I want to be healthy, fit, and be able to take off my shirt and show off my abs. I’m not there yet, so I work out every day. I’m on a path to do over 200 days of fucking Insanity. I’m not fucking around. And I want to know myself better, so I write these introspective blog entries for the entire internet *ahem* all 3 of you *ahem* to read. I spend more time every day simply thinking about what I want to write every night, and that makes me more receptive to the subtleties of my life. Every thought is precious. Every moment is fodder for an entry. Everything I do matters, and that has changed my whole perspective on my life.
Sometimes I dread spending the last hour or so of my day writing an entry because sometimes I would rather go to sleep or binge watch a TV show on Netflix or go out and meet some people or watch vloggers on YouTube ranting about their day. But I don’t. I don’t because I know I have to make today better than yesterday in some way, and yesterday I wrote 300 words in my novel and worked out and wrote another 500+ words on my blog. I’ve gotta keep pushing myself further and further until I’m dead.
Until I’m dead, you guys. Until I’m dead.