by Jenniferlyn Kryvicky, MS, LN
When we think of achieving a goal, altering our behaviors, or making any sort of lifestyle change, such as our New Year's Resolutions, we often approach them with the idea that we must go straight to the 100% level.
Want to quit smoking? Go cold turkey!
Want to go from couch to marathon? Run 5 miles every morning!
Want to lose weight? Go keto/vegan/paleo/Whole30 all in and crush my daily workout!
While these actions are each excellent behavior changes to make to achieve the specific goal, they are often too far from where we are today. When we try to do too much too quickly our brains step in with words of self-doubt and the effort it takes to "be perfect" becomes harder every day.
Perfection is not the goal. Perfection is not sustainable.
What if we looked at it from another point of view? Instead of defining success as achieving 100% every day, what if success was defined by how much we achieved from 0% every day? What if we switch from perfection to progress as the objective?
This requires us to switch from a subtractive mindset where anything less than perfect is a potential for self-doubt to creep in eroding our motivation to continue, to an additive mindset where everything we do is better and is progress.
If we look to build upon a base level of activity, respecting where we are today, we are more likely to stay the course and be successful in achieving our long-term goals. We start off slow, and grow. One tool that we can use to help us switch from subtractive to additive, is to implement a practice called Kaizen.
Kaizen is a Japanese principle stemming from the words Kai (meaning to change) and Zen (meaning good or to do better) which, at the heart of it is the idea is that a person should practice doing something for a single minute, every day at the same time. As you become consistent in your daily practice we will build upon it in future goals.
This is an especially useful tool if we are starting from a 0% effort level at the moment such as when we want to change our behaviors to eat more healthful and to move more, but we currently behave the opposite by eating foods which make us sick and are firmly planted on the couch.
How to use the practice of Kaizen, 1-minute daily actions, in your life to make a sustainable lifestyle change:
Start off with an easy 1-minute behavior. Think, what is one 1-minute action that you can commit to doing daily to build up consistency and resilience and to show your brain that you are capable of making real habit change? Is it 1-minute of stretching, 1-minute of meditation, 1-minute of walking, 1-minute of standing? Ask yourself what it is you want to accomplish and what is one small, 1-minute action you can do every single day to start on the journey.
Expand the 1-minute practice to 2-minutes or add some difficulty in what you are doing, after you are consistent with your 1-minute daily actions and feel ready to increase the commitment. After consistency at that level, you can increase to 5-minutes, then to 10-minutes, and so on until you are where you want your behavior to be.
By adding on to the base daily behavior, either in time or difficulty or both, we are signaling to our brain that we can accomplish what we set out to do and we build up momentum that will help us continue on to the next level of behavior and action.
Some examples of 1-minute daily actions:
- 1 minute of physical movement with positive thoughts
- 1 minute of gratitude
- 1 minute of praising oneself
- 1 minute of eye shut no thoughts or judgement
- 1 minute of breathing
Comment below if you have implemented the Kaizen practice in your own life and how that is working for you. What are some 1-minute daily actions that you take?
The 1-minute daily practice is one of the keys to the Mind Body Shine program's process of resetting our mindset around our bodies and our lives! If you would like to learn more and join in the group - comment below or feel free to register here.
Coaches BK and Jenniferlyn are wellness professionals who have a passion for helping others create their best shining lives. Both are former engineers who have found a path to wellness and triathlon due to their own journeys. Together they will share recipes and informative posts on various wellness topics.