It’s a New Year!  It’s time for New Year’s Resolutions!  Many people start January full of good intentions.  They are really going to make some BIG changes in their lives!  They are excited, enthusiastic and then by the second or third week, these BIG changes have been kicked aside and they are back to their old ways.  If you don’t believe me, ask any gym owner what January is like at their gym!

Don’t get me wrong, there are some people who are very good at making BIG changes.  For example, they wake up one day and decide to quit smoking.  From that day forward, they never smoke another cigarette again.

For most of us, BIG changes can be too BIG for us to successfully sustain over the long haul.  We may be able to initially make the change and then, life throws us a curveball and we revert back to what is comfortable.

Often BIG changes feel way too BIG for us.  We start feeling overwhelmed just thinking about what’s involved or even how to start.

So, how do you approach change if the chances are slim that you’ll be successful going “cold turkey”?  It almost feels as if change isn’t worth the effort, especially if it’s a long shot…

What if you could start a BIG change differently? Perhaps you have heard this quote before:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” ~ Tao Te Ching

The philosophy behind this statement is captured in the Japanese approach of Kaizen, which is the practice of continuous improvement. One of the most notable components of Kaizen is that taking small steps can lead to big results.  The reality is the size of the step you take does NOT determine the overall size of the change you will ultimately make.

In the book One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way (, the author, Robert Maurer talks about many different ways you can implement very small changes leading to much bigger results. For example, many people at this time of year decide they are going to get healthy!  They are going to exercise (often for the first time in a long time).  They say they’re going to work-out five days a week for an hour. And, really…how long does that last?  Usually, they don’t stick with this rigorous plan for very long.

Instead, what do you think would happen if they decided to walk in place for 3 minutes once a day?  Does 3 minutes sound do-able?  If not, the Kaizen approach would encourage the person to keep reducing the time commitment until they say, “I can do that!”  Once the person fulfills their commitment, more time can be added…slowly!  For example, Greta decides to walk 3 minutes a day. Once she consistently does this, she decides she will walk 3 minutes in the morning AND 3 minutes in the afternoon. Once she does these two exercises consistently, she may decide to walk 3 minutes in the morning and 4 minutes in the afternoon.  Greta would keep adding time until her desired goal of 60 minutes 5 times a week is met.  Although it may take a while to reach the ultimate goal, the consistent improvements individuals make will spur them on and give them confidence.  This often leads to them achieving their BIG change!

SMALL is a key word in Kaizen.  You can ask small questions, take small steps, solve small problems, etc.  The key is to keep doing what you are doing. For example, if you’re taking small steps, keep taking one small step, then another, then another, and so on.  The magic is in the ability to take the small step continuously until you reach your BIG goal.

There is more to Kaizen than just taking small steps.  However, what I have presented here will give you one small step to get you started.

Helen Kosinski
Follow Helen
Latest posts by Helen Kosinski (see all)