A little while ago now—boy, how time flies—we posted a blog on our main Total Life Changes website offering some suggestions for improving your life and making a better you.

On the one hand, it’s incredibly bold for someone to suggest that you aren’t perfect the way you are. I believe that we are each special and unique in our own way, with value and ability.

But on the other hand, life is a journey; along the way we grow and change and, I hope, improve how we treat ourselves and others.

The business sector, especially manufacturing, has this concept they call “Continuous Improvement.” I don’t like to think of our lives in business terms, usually. People are far more complicated than companies. There are, however, some aspects of Continuous Improvement that I think can be adapted into strategies that match the work we try to do here at TLC. I’d like to share those with you.

Meaningful Change Can Begin Small

Large improvements can seem impossible, but small changes to work toward those improvements are often easier and more likely to be manageable.

If you’re identifying one area of your life you’d like to improve, select a small thing that you can do to impact that area. If you’re looking for a healthier way of eating, change just one meal a day. If you’re looking to improve your education or training, enroll in just one class.

Small changes can have a cascading effect that resonates across your life. You don’t have to completely give up old habits in order to start developing new ones.

Make Measurable Changes

Changing your way of thinking about problems can be powerful, but it can be difficult to measure that. Especially early on in the improvement process, we want to make sure our changes can be measured so that A) we know they’re actually happening, and B) we can track their impact and keep developing them.

When you make moves to implement changes, think of them as an experiment. In a lab, scientists minimize variables so they can measure the effects of change. Understand what effects you’re looking for before implementing change, so you have measuring tools in place.

Some things you might consider measuring for business include:


  1. Sales

  2. Customer Engagement (through website click-throughs)

  3. Returns

  4. Social Media Hits

  5. Re-Orders

  6. New Customer Acquisition

  7. Sales Conversions

When we’re thinking about continuous improvement for ourselves, maybe we consider Savings, Blood Pressure, A1C, the number of times we try something new, classes we take, classes we pass. If we’re trying to measure how we make better use of our time, identify what you want to accomplish during that reclaimed time—reading, knitting, walking, whatever—and track that.

Don’t allow yourself to get complacent, though. As Jim Rohm writes at Success, don’t let feeling good replace doing better. Make sure those measurables have a lot of meaning. Make them as tangible as possible.

Look For Inspiration Everywhere

While managers may always ultimately be responsible for decisions, be prepared to find inspiration for positive change everywhere. Be especially open to taking suggestions from workers all along the product creation and distribution line. Often, they understand how change can be put to good use more than someone several layers up a company’s organizational tree.

The story of the janitor who invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos may not have been as incredible as we wanted to believe, but the concept that great ideas can come from anywhere in a company is a good one, and we should embrace it.

Similarly, we can look at our own lives the same way. Inspiration and motivation, so long as it generates positive results, can be valuable regardless of where it comes from. Keep your eyes open for opportunities.

The key element for continuous improvement is a mindset that encourages people to seek and act upon opportunities.  That includes being ready to continue moving forward in our personal lives. Don’t get too caught up on perfection: the goal is progress. A little bit at a time.