The principles of lean production, a manufacturing system developed by Toyota, can improve your finances by helping you to efficiently utilise the precious resources of time and money. Lean has another feature that can be essential to your financial success -- the concept of kaizen.
Kaizen, Japanese for change (kai) for the good or better (zen), is defined in Dictionary.com as "a business philosophy based on making positive changes on a regular basis to improve productivity." It also signifies "an approach to one's personal life that focuses on continuous improvement."
The kaizen way involves making tiny incremental steps until the production process is perfected or the most efficient method is being utilised. The journey towards perfection is never really complete, however, as there will always be new ways to improve as time and technology advances.
Change is essential for growth
One of the reasons why many people struggle to achieve their goals is that their attitudes and actions are not aligned with the objectives they desire. In fact, what they think and what they do are actually hindering them from accomplishing the resolutions that they painstakingly make each year.
Writing down goals and crafting action plans to carry them out will not lead to positive results if you don't address the situations that need to be improved or removed. Like a lean operation, you must strive to discover and fix those areas which may be making you inefficient and ineffective.
Acquiring new habits of success is not an overnight process; as erasing long-held negative beliefs and behaviour can take years of dedicated work. This is why incorporating a system of continuous improvement needs to be an important element of your game plan for money success.
The road to improvement
In business, kaizen involves assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating processes to make sure that a company's operations are carried out efficiently. To boost your personal production, you also need to continually check your results and make adjustments to your actions as required.
While it's easy for us to see other people's problems which sabotage their efforts to accomplish their goals, it's usually harder to recognise our own faults. Change for the better will only come when you accept that if you are not where you want to be, you must be doing something wrong.
This acceptance must be accompanied by a willingness to find out why you might be going astray and the humility to seek corrective advice. Misplaced pride and defensive excuses will not help you to eliminate those crippling issues that have prevented you from realising your dreams in the past.
The truth will set you free
Honesty and deep introspection will be critical to applying kaizen in your life. Stop kidding yourself about the real state of your finances; don't try to justify your money problems or blame others for your lack of progress. What have you been doing that has led to your current financial position?
For example, if you're struggling to save because you overspend on the latest clothes, you need to ask yourself why looking good is more important to you than your money goals. Do you have self esteem issues to overcome, or do you really believe that you deserve to have lasting wealth?
Once you have identified the areas for improvement, then you need to decide how best to move forward. So, if unplanned expenses are wreaking havoc with your cash flow, you must prepare a detailed budget to help you manage your money and live within your means.
Kaizen should be your goal
If there is one resolution that you pledge to fulfill this year, let it be to routinely assess your progress with your objectives, see where there is room for improvement, identify and implement strategies which can help you to do better, and continue this evaluation process for the rest of your life.
Implementing kaizen in your life may not necessarily bring instantaneous or dramatic results. However, the small but potent changes that you continually make to your thoughts and actions will eventually lead to improved results and ultimately your success in accomplishing your goals.