Sep 052011


Regardless of who you are or what you do, the answer to this question will always be ‘yes’. The human brain adapts both quickly and constantly, rewiring itself to be as efficient as possible at completing any challenges that we encounter.

A few minutes ago I was watching Underworld (the vampire movie with Kate Beckinsale – check it out), but I couldn’t enjoy the movie because I had an unfinished article that needed to be done by morning. I knew as long as an incomplete task was on my plate, I wouldn’t be able to relax – so I decided I would put my laptop down, write the article when Underworld was finished, and unwind.


Then a thought hit me with the force of a freight train, and I had one of those epiphanies us self-improvement junkies love.


A few weeks ago I was reading about the philosophy of Kaizen, which is Japanese for ‘constant improvement’. Rather than attempting to make huge leaps in progress, Kaizen is about making small, steady improvements consistently, collectively resulting in a larger change.  It just so happens to be the philosophy Toyota utilized to become the top automaker in the world, so right away I knew it had merit.

I didn’t realize the important part until minutes ago. When I tried to ditch my responsibilities to watch a movie, the connection I was looking for became apparent.


Improvement can be positive or negative, and it’s happening all the time.


Every decision, no matter how small, changes you – for better or for worse. A seemingly innocent decision to dismiss my professional responsibilities actually results in a negative improvement: I get better at being lazy.

Even if it seems like you aren’t doing anything, you are making improvements of some kind. For example, say you’re relaxing watching some TV after work – seems innocent, right? Well, while you watch TV, your brain is less active than when you’re sleeping, and it adjusts accordingly. It’s just like your muscles: your brain is incredibly efficient, and if it recognizes it can downsize and still achieve what it needs to, it will.

You are improving all the time, but for better, or for worse?

Practice being aware of your decisions, aware of what you’re doing, and assess whether or not each particular decision you make is guiding you towards what you want in life, or away from it. Figure out what you can do better every day, and constantly cut out the unnecessary or inefficient – this is a great way to whittle at unproductive behaviours, and will result in immediate, tangible benefits.


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 Posted by on September 5, 2011