I noticed this morning that as I reached for my contact lens case, it was in my medicine cabinet, the way it always is. That is, the way it’s been for the last 7 months. Prior to that, it was placed every night on the top of the toilet bowl tank… every night for at least 13 years. When we renovated the bathroom I had made a decision to simply place the case in the cabinet in an effort to keep surfaces clear and orderly. Prior to that, in another house, it used to be on the toilet bowl tank, also for many years.
That’s a lot of years of doing something ritualistically that I changed just because it made better sense to me, it appealed to me, my motivation was high and it was easy; a new bathroom deserved special attention. I guess I made note of it today because, in the spirit of a New Year and all of the emphasis on resolutions and new behavior, I observed how easy it was to make a change that meant something to me, as tiny as it was.
In his book, One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way, (a small, powerful read), Robert Maurer talks about kaizen, the Japanese word that denotes continuous improvement in small, steady steps. This process empowers people to make changes that are incremental, manageable, and meaningful. These are the changes that don’t trigger anxiety or have the brain shut-down and go into protective mode or defeat, vs. being in open, optimistic learning mode.
So, in the spirit of the New Year, what are the small, tiniest of changes that you can make today that would leave you feeling hopeful, empowered and successful? What is something you could absolutely commit to because it is something that is meaningful and small enough that you really can do it?
The truth is that the lens case was just the beginning – I got rid of oodles of shampoo bottles and all the silly accumulations and clutter that happen over time and, in short order, totally de-simplified that room. It became effortless, one success building on another.
And that’s what change is.