Speaking of Joy: Kaizen Change

Do you like the change of seasons?

I do – especially summer into fall and winter into spring.  We’ve had an early spring here in Denver with a blizzard last week sandwiched in between our recent pretty days.

When seasons change, we often find ourselves attracted to personal change, too.  In the spring, we immerse ourselves in healthy recipes.  We clean out our garages.  We try out new haircuts.

We are suddenly all about change.

But what about changing those things in ourselves that we really wish were different?  That can be work.

We all have a list.  Maybe we’d like to be more grateful.  Or maybe we’d like to be more positive.   Or maybe we know we should exercise more often.

Changing ourselves is usually not much fun.  I think that’s because there’s no quick reward, no easy fix, no one and done. 

Noted American psychologist Carl Rogers said the “curious paradox” is that changing ourselves starts with accepting ourselves.

So how do we first, accept ourselves, and second, begin the process of change?

Self-acceptance is the opposite of self-inflicted judgment.  Let’s be honest.  Most of us are trash talkers.  And the subject of our verbal abuse is ourselves. 

But what if we unconditionally accepted our sticky-widgets, hot buttons and inevitable shortcomings.   And not for any reason other to just accept, without shame, those things about yourself that you know to be true.

And then consider this for a plan:  Kaizen change.

You might be familiar with the idea of Kaizen change.  Kaizen is a Japanese term meaning “change for the better.”  It’s most often associated with business change and has been used extensively by Toyota.

But it’s a solid idea for personal change, too.

Kaizen change is the idea of focusing on small, incremental change – the kind that is easier for us to make.  And when we string incremental change together that in turn creates the big changes that often seem so improbable to us.   

Here’s an example.  If you’ve not exercised in a long time, just carve out 10 minutes every day for the next week and go for a brisk walk.  The week after, make it 15 minutes.  Within five weeks, you’ll be walking 30 minutes a day.  If you eat healthy and take that walk every day for a year, you’ll burn enough calories to loose about 18 pounds. Small changes can equal big changes.

But it all begins with acceptance not judgment. 

Until next week, I hope your life is full of joy and gratitude and plenty of early spring walks,


Linda Sterling Sease is a professional speaker, career coach & writer on the power of joy to transform companies, homes and communities.  To explore how Linda can work with your organization, call 303-319-5829 or email her at Linda at SterlingSease.com.