Well, we are squarely into 2021, the New Year, and many of us are already asking ourselves if we're 'actually going to stick to our resolutions' this year.  To that ends, I want o offer you an alternative thought.

Most of us fall short of our New Year's resolutions, because we set goals that are so lofty that we scarcely have the stamina to maintain them.  You hear people say things like, "I'm only going to eat salads," or "I'm going to lose 30 pounds by Easter."  In truth there is nothing wrong with these goals.  You should always dream big, but you also have set the discipline in your life to achieve, and more importantly, sustain them.  An alternative, or maybe a compliment to your aggressive New Year's resolution setting is to adopt a spirit of Kaizen (Kai - Zen).  The term Kaizen is Japanese that literally translates to "change for good."  It is most commonly associated with Japanese product development practices, and is often translated as "continuous improvement."  Made popular by Toyota product development engineers, the concept of Kaizen is to set a lofty target for yourself (e.g. build a perfect car), then take small, sustainable steps, everyday, that help you move closer to the goal.

Likely the most beautiful element of Kaizen, is that to truly embrace a spirit of continuous improvement, you must first be honest with yourself about who, what and where you are.  You must learn to self evaluate, without being self critical.  You must learn to appreciate the value of who and what you are in the moment, but also know that their are things you can ALWAYS do to improve.  This attitude if reflected in our karate training.  Consider that there is only a finite amount of material to be learned.  After about 3rd Degree Black Belt, there is really no "new material" to be learned.  Arguably the lessons have all been learned by then, but there is still so much more to to...there is the infinite pursuit of perfecting each lesson.  In that there is a endless, and fulfilling journey of trying to become a better person.

So instead of signing yourself to another New Year's resolution; this time commit yourself to self reflection, honesty, and growth.  Remember that a journey of a thousand miles will always begin with a single step.