Kaizen: Small Steps Lead to Success

Here’s a guest post from writer and coach LA Bourgeois, who explains how she re-started her writing life – in fifteen-minute increments. Please enjoy! ~ AMC


 

A few years ago, my dream of being a professional writer seemed to be slowly turning into a reality. Then, my wife had a stroke. As I looked at her lying helpless on the bedroom floor, I thought “This is it. My dream is dead. My writing career is over.”

I know. It’s ridiculously selfish. The words appeared in my mind between “What is happening?” and “Is this what a stroke looks like?”

For a while, this awful statement remained true. All I could do was take care of my wife, get a job to support us, and muddle through the journey across the unfamiliar landscape of post-stroke life. It wasn’t that I felt angry or resentful that circumstances made my creative dream inaccessible. My creative drive just disappeared.

Several months passed before my creativity tapped me on the shoulder with the yen to finish a story I’d started years before. But now my life was full of tasks for my day job and chores at home. How could I fit my writing back into these busy days?

Small steps. Small steps are easily achievable actions you can take toward your goal. The point is you are doing something that delivers success every time you approach your work.

That’s how I decided to write for fifteen minutes a day.

That was it. That was all I asked of myself. That was all I could ask of myself.

Fifteen minutes each weekday. I didn’t even make myself write on weekends. Fifteen minutes a day, five days a week.

Narrow sloped alley with steps painted white. Greek mountain village old footpath.

Small steps are easily achievable actions you can take toward your goal
Image credit: Clipart.com

By taking that tiny action, I gave myself the success that kept me going.

Think about it. If you give yourself the goal of writing for an hour each day, how do you feel if you only write for forty-five minutes? Do you want to repeat that process?

Not likely. Even if you can make yourself sit back down, the worry and guilt over not hitting your goal pulls even the strongest among us off course.

However, if your goal is to write for fifteen minutes and you write for forty-five, how do you feel? Do you want to jump and dance and celebrate? Do you want to get back to your notepad or keyboard? Yaaaaassss! You are a successful writer!

One of the things that attracted me to the Kaizen-Muse style of creativity coaching was the incorporation of small steps.* Kaizen is the Japanese technique of achieving success through taking small steps. As described in Dr. Robert Maurer’s book, One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way, small steps break down resistance, battle procrastination, and march you toward whatever goal you may wish to pursue.

Are you resisting working on a scene or finishing that next essay? Consider thinking about the conundrum for thirty seconds or continuing to work on the piece for a couple of minutes longer than you think you can. Momentum eventually builds and rolls into completion.

Are you procrastinating? Begin by turning toward your writing desk, turning on your computer, or writing a sentence on your notepad once every day or day-ish. When you feel your enthusiasm prod you into doing more, go ahead and do it.

Don’t know what to do? Block off a small amount of time—even thirty seconds can get you started—and use that moment to meditate on your goal. When your first small step reveals itself (and it will!), do it. Then, use your intuition to select your next one.

Simply picking one small action to repeat each day or day-ish builds enthusiasm, momentum, and endurance that assists you in finishing your project.

As I successfully completed session after session, I increased my writing time and built my skills until I was able to take the leap into writing and coaching full-time this past January, four and a half years after that awful stroke seemed to end my creative dream.

What is the one small step you can take?

*This post is informed by and uses Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching Tools™.


LA (as in tra-la-la) Bourgeois uses Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching tools™ to break down resistance, procrastination, and overwhelm while gently encouraging you with humor and heart. Are you ready to embrace joy as you pursue your creative goals? Discover more at her website, labourgeois.biz