Monday Musings 2023:

Word of the Year – KAIZEN

Kaizen is a Japanese word taken from words ‘Kai’, which means continuous and ‘zen’ which means improvement. Some translate ‘Kai’ to mean change and ‘zen’ to mean good, or for the better.


This is how I wish to approach 2023! With small, incremental and consistent improvement. Although Kaizen is better understood in the context of Japanese business philosophy, I see this “change”/”good” as something we can apply to life in all forms.

Kaizen strategy counts mostly on human efforts to improve results which requires process improvement. Kaizen teaches you to discipline yourself by living in the present. Much like the practice of yoga, kaizen encourages you to visualize attainable goals and set smaller milestones to maintain motivation. With time, the desired destination will come closer until you reach the finish line. Kaizen follows a process-oriented approach: PLAN – CHECK – ACT/DO

Principles of Kaizen

Kaizen can be broken down into 10 major principles.

  1. Strive for continuous improvement. Things can always get better no matter how good or bad they may be now.
  2. Always questions tradition and, when necessary, discard the old to make way for the new.
  3. Acquire wisdom by consulting with many people rather than relying on one expert.
  4. Don’t waste time making excuses but focus on finding solutions.
  5. Make sure you base your decisions on facts rather than opinions.
  6. Get to the root cause of a situation or problem by asking “Why?” at least 5 times.
  7. Before spending money to fix a problem, look for simple and inexpensive solutions.
  8. Always question the status quo.
  9. Start making improvements right away, even if you don’t yet have all the answers. One day at a time.
  10. Make sure everyone is involved.

Toyota came up with the 5S System implementing Kaizen and it is easy to transition those principles to work/life balance too:

Seiri: Sort and Eliminate

Eliminate ‘wastefulness.’ I am identifying those things that I do in my life that are pretty useless and time consuming. I am restructuring some and replacing others with something meaningful instead.

Seiton: Organize My Workstation & Home

Organization skills go hand in hand with productivity and efficiency. Life is a mess, but my work and home don’t have to be! Thank Marie Kondo-style organization for this one! I am discarding objects that do not ‘spark joy’ in my life. Declutter to increase mental focus to allow more creativity and concentration!

Seiso: Aim for Healthier Life Choices

Seiso (or cleanliness) can help maintain an ideal work-life balance. I can use seiso to cut out unhealthy habits and mentally draining activities and replace them with healthier and valuable lifestyle choices that cleanse my mind, body, and soul. I actually have to give myself a little credit here as I am always trying to work on healthier choices and a better quality of life. Yoga, dancing, reading, eating well and exercising, spending quality time with amazing people are things of great value to me. The difference is, I am going to work harder on stopping the head trash to move in and to not be so hard on myself.

Seiketsu: Set High Standards

Applying the Kaizen philosophy in personal life often means developing standards.

Step one: Cut out those toxic friendships to make room for meaningful relationships and mind-stimulating hobbies.

Step two: Spend quality time with my support systems to uplift your spirits and mood.

Shitsuke: Maintain Discipline for Continuous Improvement

Lastly, get rid of the biggest vice of them all, aka procrastination.

Procrastination is a form of self-harm that thrives on lazy excuses and bad moods. 2022 was sadly a big year of grumbling and negative self-talk, and as a result, I lost time, joy and feared taking risks. I also lost sight of my purpose and goals because I gave in to irrational thoughts and negative emotions. These harmful choices stopped my from seeing my value and worth.

My Commitment

I see the spirit and application of Kaizan in my personal life by embracing the present and looking for ways to continuously improve. My desire is to aim for micro improvements daily, visualizing attainable goals and setting smaller milestones to keep myself motivated. You know, more like the tortoise and less the hare! By working toward living and staying in each moment, prioritizing productivity over instant gratification, and honoring my true self, I will continue upward progress with efficient, tiny steps instead of only focusing on the big picture.

Here’s to an amazing 2023! Are you ready to join me?

Oh, and to start my small goal setting list, I am committing to posting here once a week. Look for a new blog post each Monday in my 2023 Monday Musings.

One thought on “Monday Musings 2023:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: