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I’ve been reading a book titled small change: Little Things Make a Big Difference and have enjoyed it tremendously. The book is written in a conversational style, with a couple as narrators.

The book focuses on the Japanese concept of kaizen, although they don’t really talk about kaizen very much. The idea is that we should make one small change each month, and do this on a regular basis. With a small change, it becomes a habit and can have a dramatic effect on the rest of our lives.

As an example, let’s say one changes from a soda a day to a glass of water every day. If you have a 12oz. soda (at US$1) each day – and switch to visiting the bubbler – then you will save US$365 in one year, and US$1825 in five years. What would you do with all that money?

Taking the same switch as an example, you would also save 140 calories each day – or 51,100 calories a year – or 255,500 calories in five years.

When you try to do too much, you can become overwhelmed and your attempts then suffer across the board. You find that you are failing in one area, and the negative reaction spills into all of the other habits you are trying to create – and none are successfully created.

Also, when you have several habits going at once, you may find that you are improving slightly – across the board – but not in any one area. None of the habits take, because you keep switching one habit for another and never completely creating a new habit.

When you succeed in one habit, the drive will propel you to succeed in another – and another.

Jason Thomas wrote an article in Lifehacker titled Practice Your Personal Kaizen which covers some of these areas. Leo Babauta in his book Less also covers the concept of changing just one habit each month. A related book (which I want to read) is One Small Step Can Change Your Life: the Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer.

What new habit are you going to create this month?

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