Kaizen: The Japanese habit for transforming habits

What is this about?: This is book about habits — about making new ones and not frigging killing yourself come 2020* in keeping them. (*any year or time really)

What else is this about?: Changing yourself one step at a time.


This beautiful, simple book suggests tiny changes we can make to improve all areas of life, from friendships to a cluttered flat. Unlike a lot of self-improvement guides … reading it made me feel calmer and at the same time motivated to sort out my cupboards and call my auntie; small tweaks maybe, but these things can make the difference between a good day and a bad one.’ Marianne Power, author of Help Me!

A gorgeously illustrated introduction to the Japanese method of Kaizen – meaning ‘change’ ‘good’ – showing you how to make small, step-by-step changes to transform your life.

From Marie Kondo to Hygge to Ikigai, in recent years, philosophies to help people live better lives have taken the world by storm. Kaizen will change your habits for good.

This beautifully colour illustrated and photographed book offers a way to build good habits and remove bad ones, without being too hard on yourself along the way. The focus is on having patience, shaping solutions for yourself rather than following others and not giving up when things aren’t working. Rather than being critical of your faults, the emphasis is on mindful, positive change. Well-known in the business and sports worlds as a method for mapping incremental goals, Kaizen is also a wonderful tool for slowly improving aspects of your life, without feeling daunted or overwhelmed by the challenge.

Kaizen by Sarah Harvey brings you a personalized and flexible approach to change that you can apply to any area of your life (whether it is health, relationships, money, career, habits, new hobbies or general wellbeing). You can adapt it to suit working style, preferences and personality. Every person’s experience of Kaizen will be different, which is what makes it such an effective tool for positive change.

Every year without fail, my local gym gets crowded — new people come in, classes are full and machines are damn hard to get to unless you stand next to it and glance at the person sweating and grunting on it meaningfully (and no this is not good gym etiquette, so don’t do it even though there are assholes out there who do do it).

But come mid-Feb — it’s back to being empty. New Years Resolutions are shot, and life goes back to normal.

Kaizen is the art of not killing yourself with diving into a huge, life altering change (come new year’s or any other time) but change in small increments: if your new year’s resolution is the gym, by all means, start with once a week for an hour, and then work up to twice a week. However long it may take you, to get to three times a week or four times a week for an hour — then that’s how long it takes you.

Small changes make a big difference in the long run.

So besides being my nephew’s name (not the zen part, bc at four there is no zen to be had), Kaizen is about changing for a goal (long or short term) and taking small steps to achieve that goal. 

There is no preaching the book, but it does offer an introduction to the art of Kaizen, and how it’s a melding of east meets west — it started in the West during war time, and then transferred to Japan, where it seemed to be more applicable to a way of life than just corporate life.

The book delves into work, money, relationships and other aspects of life, as well as tackling the stumbling blocks you may run into. For me personally, I know there are aspects of my life I need to change, and I know then when I dive into something without thinking, it makes little difference because it drops off eventually.

Change is hard, and god knows, I’m in fear of some of things I know need to change, but I know I need to try.


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