5 steps to implement Kaizen to improve your career

The beginning of the new year might be the right time to bring a fresh perspective to your career. Whether you have wanted to climb the corporate ladder, build your own startup or develop a specific skill set, there is no better time than the beginning of the year to plan it.

However, research has shown that 80% of resolutions fail by the beginning of February. If you have been considering a specific goal or objectives as part of this year’s career growth, it is likely that other priorities may take precedence sooner rather than later.

So how can you prevent failing and stay focused on the planned career improvement in 2022? The answer lies in adopting an effective strategy called Kaizen. If you haven’t already heard of it, Kaizen is a Japanese word that means continuous improvement. It is common knowledge that making a huge change or improvement can be intimidating and daunting. Its size and scope are perhaps the most common reason why many of us fail to reach our goals.

Kaizen simplifies the process. Right from setting a goal to the process of achieving it, this technique can help you plan and achieve smaller targets at a realistic and comfortable pace, making it an effective method for people who get discouraged when they don’t see immediate results or documented progress. Remember the old joke: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time – that is Kaizen.

Here are 5 steps to implement Kaizen to improve your career in 2022:

Step 1: Decide on a goal

Career improvement may mean a gamut of things like an increase in pay scale, change of career, promotion, accepting more responsibilities, climbing up to a higher role, etc. You may be interested in achieving one or more of these goals. Kaizen recommends deciding one goal at a time. Once you have a set goal it is easier to work backward to identify the process of achieving it. It also helps not to get clouded with a bunch of different goals simultaneously and lose your momentum.

Step 2: Make small changes and choose small acts

One of the best aspects of Kaizen is that you can start as small as possible. Even if it means doing one small task a day for your career such as simply updating your LinkedIn profile headline on day one. Concentrating on a small piece of change can help you get a head start without feeling overwhelmed with a big project, idea, or scope of your “to-do” list.

Step 3: Focus on smaller improvements

It is human nature to want to go the extra mile to achieve a set goal sooner than planned. However, in Kaizen, it is a standard practice to focus on smaller improvements rather than hurrying to finish a big chunk of work. Quality over quantity matters and that’s exactly what Kaizen focuses on. So, for example, if you have decided to build your network, start by identifying one person who could connect you to other people and contact them. This is Kaizen, rather than sending out tens of requests and not being able to follow up in a timely, professional and authentic fashion. Focus on each contact before moving on.

Step 4: Make a list of things you wish to improve

There may be more than one thing that you want to improve. Creating a list of things helps to make sure you don’t miss out. However, the idea remains that you need to focus on one goal, one idea, make small and continuous improvements and move to the next goal after completing it.

Step 5: Start now

Roadblocks are a reality, whether it is your career goals or personal. Kaizen focuses on starting NOW. Most of us wait for the right time to begin. The theory of Kaizen recommends starting your journey, however small, right when you have thought of it. As it is a journey of small and continuous improvements, it is quite likely that many people find it sustainable in long term.

In a more real sense, life can pose many unexpected challenges in your career progression. So, what happens to your Kaizen journey if you lose a day? Start back again. Kaizen is not measured. Thus, its success totally depends on you, making it much more flexible and easier for you to get back on track, even if you lose momentum for a while. Another challenge you may face is consistency. One of the easiest ways to address this is to complete your small step/goal first thing in the morning. That way it is done before other priorities during the day start taking over your time.

Want to explore the idea of Kaizen further?

Looking for career advice in 2022? Our team of Recruiters can help you! Reach out to Agilus right away.

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