I landed a job in Corporate America and at an orientation meeting, the new batch of employees learned the Japanese word kaizen. I felt so grown-up that day with my new job and new vocabulary (in my late-1980's permed hair and polka-dot pumps that matched my polka-dot dress).
The word kaizen means small, continuous improvement. In my new Corporate Job in a Cubical (i.e. answering the telephone and filing papers), I was trained to take the responsibility to improve anything in my job that needed improvement. The indoctrination took, and the idea of kaizen has stuck with me over the years.
When I started my current job as Homeschooling Mom, Charlotte Mason's writings became my New Employee Handbook. What she wrote about habit training seems like kaizen to me.
The vocabulary is different, but the idea is the same. In kaizen, you look at what you're doing with a bit of detachment and figure out where you're wasting time and effort. Then you pick something small to change. When that change becomes a habit, you pick something else to improve. Gradually, slowly, diligently, constantly improve.
Charlotte Mason suggests working on one habit at a time and reminds us that good habits make for easier days. When you have a habit, you do the task automatically - like brushing your teeth before bed - and it frees your mind to think of other things.
It's a crazy thing, isn't it - you think about your actions so you can develop habits so you can forget about your actions. Kaizen, aka habit training, takes self-discipline, but whatever language you use, it works.
A quote from Charlotte Mason's first volume: ...the formation of a habit, the gradually lessening sense of effort in a given act, is pleasurable.Some practical examples of kaizen: Practice your personal kaizen
Photo: A mural in the neighborhood that reminds me to put one foot in front of the other when tackling a new habit and soon the new habit will be as easy as putting one foot in front of the other.