Be Playful

Posts Tagged ‘massive action

Photo by Umair Mohsin.

I am a perfectionist. Whilst this means that when I do something I do it to the best of my ability, it also means that I’m often afraid to start on projects for fear of not being able to complete them to perfection.

For me, a big part of engaging with my playful side has been learning to get my hands dirty, to stop worrying whether or not a project I am working on will end up completely perfect.

When children are at play, they are so completely present in the world that they don’t notice if they’re getting mucky or making a mess. I’m trying to learn to be like this too.

Since I started being willing to get my hands dirty, I’ve been learning a few things.

Children learn by doing and trying

Have you ever watched a young child learning to walk? He or she will take one or two steps before toppling over. Next time it might be three steps, then four. Then back to two steps. The child doesn’t see falling over as a failure, but delights in the success of having tried to walk.

Seek out passions that absorb you

I’ve found that I’m least afraid of failure when I’m doing something I love because I become so absorbed in completing the task. This is known as the creative state of flow.

I’ve also found that even when doing things I love, it’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s a matter of making a choice to start a project that I’m dreading, then once I’ve started, I suddenly realise how much I’m enjoying it.

If you’re still looking for something you love doing, a great idea is to try different things. You may find it helpful to make a list of all the things you’ve enjoyed doing in the past, and all the things that you’ve dreamed about doing but not yet got round to. Commit to doing at least two of those things within the next week.

Pursue your dreams and learn on the way

It’s been a difficult lesson to learn, but my dreams haven’t stumbled into my lap. I’ve had to chase them down, making mistakes and learning on the way.

In the past, I used to make a lot of excuses to myself for not starting a writing career. ‘I’m too young’; ‘I’m still studying’; ‘I’ve no idea what to write about’; ‘I’ll start when I’ve got the right experience’. Looking back, I think all my excuses were just covers for my fear of failure.

I’m slowly learning to look beyond my fears of failure and focus on my dreams. It’s a difficult journey, but it’s also an adventure.

Massive Action

The most important thing I’ve learnt through being willing to get my hands dirty is how much further action gets you than inaction.

It seems obvious now, but I think I always used to see my dreams as being ‘in the future’ and just somehow thought they’d happen. I’m very grateful for the blogs and self-development books that have taught me the importance of massive action; if I had done nothing to change my situation, I am sure that I would have stayed stuck where I was.

If you have a dream, but you’re not sure how to get there, one of the most helpful things you can do is to find out how other people got there. There will almost always have been a stroke of luck somewhere along the way, but they were in the right place at the right time to get that luck. Find out where the right places are for you to be, and commit to the actions that will get you there.

Now, go and get your hands dirty!


Photo by Linda N.

Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy of continuous, incremental improvements. In this post I outline some of the theory behind Kaizen, and explain how implementing Kaizen has changed my life. I hope this will encourage you to think about your life and act upon any changes that you believe are necessary.

Because of living the kaizen philosophy I have two writing jobs, am getting up earlier, eating healthily, exercising on a regular basis, and living my dreams. Following the kaizen philosophy, you too can live your dreams.

The Kaizen Philosophy

The word kaizen is made up of the Japanese words kai (change) and zen (good).

Kaizen is a way of life. Those who follow the path of kaizen seek continual improvements in all aspects of their life, from career, to family, to leisure activities.

Kaizen is about making lots of small changes that build up to take you where you want to be in life. It is a playful philosophy because it is about embracing life with all your being, living life to the full.

The Continual Tipping Point


Photo by HaPe Gera

According to chaos theory, the flapping of a butterfly’s wings on one side of the world can cause a tropical rain storm on the other side of the world. The trouble is, it’s impossible to predict which butterfly’s wings will cause a storm.

The small movement that does cause the storm is what Malcolm Gladwell calls the Tipping Point. I’m sure that you can think of tipping points in your personal history – moments that seemed insignificant at the time, but ended up changing the course of your life.

Kaizen is an attempt to create more of these moments. It involves making a conscious decision to gently but resolutely push constantly at your boundaries and expand your horizons. It turns your life into a continual tipping point in which you take the general direction of your life into your own hands, whilst being able to spot and make the most of the moments when tipping point opportunities come your way.

The Ingredients of Successful Kaizen

For kaizen to work, two key ingredients are required. The first ingredient is thoughtful reflection. The second ingredient is massive action.

Thoughtful reflection involves working out your goals and your values. It means sitting down and thinking about your life. In terms of goals, think both long term dreams and short term ambitions. Work out where you would ideally be within 10 years, 5 years and 1 year. Then break that down into what you can do towards those dreams in the next three months. What about in the next month, and the next week. What can you do within the next 24 hours? The most important thing you can do within the next 24 hours is set aside a period to sit down and think about your goals.

Remember, Kaizen is about changing things slowly in small, manageable chunks. Don’t try to change everything at once, or you are very likely to become disheartened and give up altogether.

Massive Action means acting on your goals and dreams. Having worked out what you need to do, do it! Without action, you stay stuck where you are.

Two ideas have been hugely helpful for me in making sure I commit to massive action. The first is making sure I don’t take too much on. This is especially difficult for me, as I find it all too easy to take too much on. I love to start new projects before current projects are finished, and I often say yes to things without considering whether or not I have time to see through the commitment. It’s been hugely helpful for me to make myself focus on one small change at a time.

The second idea is the 30-day trial. Commit to trying any changes for 30 days. If after 30 days they work for you, great, you can continue. If you realise that it’s not for you, you can give it up then. Trialling for 30 days gives you time to get through the difficult beginnings, knowing that you can give up in the future if it continues being hard.

How Kaizen has Changed My Life

I’d like to give a few examples of how the kaizen philosophy has changed my life, to inspire you and give you ideas of things you could change.

Over the past six months I have started waking up on week days at 6am. I made this change gradually, in small increments of 30 minutes. I love having the extra time in the mornings, and it has given me more energy throughout the day. I used to struggle to get up before 8.30am and be tired by 4pm.

I have also started eating more healthily and exercising on a weekly basis. This is something I am still working on, but for someone who never used to exercise, it’s definitely a start.

Another change I have made is in writing essays for university. I now organise quotes using the tiddlywiki software. The first essay I handed in using this method received a mark almost 10% higher than any previous essays.

Finally, I carry a creative notebook with me everywhere to note down any inspirations I have in the day, as well as my to-do list. I’m now much more organised, and I even have a clear desk!

Future Changes

Each Monday on I am going to publish a post with my kaizen change for the week. This week I am going to write and publish a blog post every day.

Your Thoughts

What have been the tipping point moments in your life? What small changes will you be making towards your dreams? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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