How To Apply Kaizen in Your Relationships Kaizen is the Japanese concept of incremental improvement. It means making small daily changes that add up over time to represent huge differences in your life. The concept comes from manufacturing, where making a small improvement can result in gigantic changes that can hugely impact on profits in a good way. This same strategy is often applied to weight loss, exercise, productivity, and finance. But what about relationships? How can we apply this concept to one of the things that matters most in life? Patterns One piece of advice that any new couple should heed is this: be wary of the patterns and habits you fall into. What many people don’t realize, is that relationships–like people–are very much habitual. The habits you set down early on in terms of the balance of power, or the roles each of you take on at particular times. You shouldn’t therefore do something once early on in your relationship, unless it’s something you’re happy to continually do. For example, if you pick your partner up from work on the way home once, this is very likely to become a habit. If your partner goes into another room one evening to work rather than watch TV with you, this is very likely to become a habit. This is all fine as long as they’re things you’re happy with. The problem is breaking patterns and habits that you aren’t happy with. The answer? Kaizen. Small steps that add up to a big difference. These habits can be broken just as they can be learned, but you need to start with a small step. For example, you might one night explain that you need to come home a little later, or that you’re very tired, and that you won’t be able to pick your partner up that night. Wait a week and do the same thing again. Then do two nights in a row. Before long, a new habit can be set. Diagnostics Another way to apply kaizen to relationships is in a diagnostic sense of continual improvement. In other words, you can look at your current relationship and identify key areas where things could be improved. Then find small ways to do that. This doesn’t need to mean pointing the finger at someone! It could rather mean deciding you both want to spend more time together, and therefore finding small opportunities to do that. Likewise, it could mean deciding to do more interesting things, and so maybe making a small change–like banning television just one night of the week.