For many, the end of a year triggers a personal retrospective as we start thinking of the year that’s almost over. We start thinking of how we’re going to reinvent ourselves in the New Year – those infamous resolutions that often don’t last past the month of January.
About a month ago – right on schedule – I started asking myself how successful our family has been in the past year. I was specifically interested in our experiments with Personal Kanban and whether they’ve had a tangible positive, and hopefully lasting, impact on our lives.
The answer? A resounding yes! Not only are there a number of specific life victories that I can report on, but Personal Kanban has forever changed the way I think about creating sustainable change in my life and in my family’s.
Here is a sampling of the very real positive changes we’ve been able to make over the past year:
- We are now getting to “Done” most mornings before school in ample time. This means that bags and lunch boxes are packed, equipment for special events and extra-murals is in order and everyone’s as neat as a pin.
- As a result of getting to “Done” earlier, we were not late once at school in the third term. The one morning in the fourth term where we were late was because everyone was out of routine for a very specific reason.
- Getting ready in the mornings has become peaceful and even fun, as opposed to family members becoming agitated and irritated with each other. My early morning stress levels in particular, have been reduced noticeably.
- I have started to see self-management emerging as a real life skill in our boys. This, above all, counts as a major success for me as a parent.
Not everything we’ve tried has worked. And there are some goals that I had set at the beginning of the year (yes, resolutions …) that we haven’t achieved.
- One of the “Done” criteria on our morning board is not being met consistently. That’s the one that says your bed has to be made before you leave. As I explicitly set this one as “nice to have”, I’m not too unhappy about this, but it’s not where I wanted to be by now.
- I’m still not exercising regularly. My attempt at using Personal Kanban to establish an exercise regime failed rather miserably, for various reasons.
- My husband and I are still struggling to stay on top of personal admin, e.g. household maintenance and paperwork. Although we’re better, we still have some way to go here.
That we have already changed quite a few things in our lives thanks to Personal Kanban is actually the bonus, not the real payoff. The real payoff has been two principles, derived from the philosophy of kaizen, that I have started to internalize:
- You don’t have to wait for the New Year to start making a change. Start now. Start small. Just start and keep improving.
- Just because you haven’t achieved perfection doesn’t mean you have failed. Even a little bit better than before, is better. In fact, there is no such thing as perfection. Everything that seems perfect is in itself evolving to something else.
I feel more in control of my life than I have ever felt before. I now believe that I am able to effect lasting change and growth, even if the rate of change may sometimes be slower than I would like.
And I feel very little need or desire to pen any New Year’s resolutions for 2011.