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New year, new opportunities


The transition into the new year is a rich period to celebrate the results of the year just ended, and plan the new year. In companies, inventories and balance sheets are carried out to analyze what went well and where there is opportunity to improve.
In our lives we should also take a break, analyze the results and, more importantly, implement changes and improvements.
From Japanese industries, we can learn two interesting methods, 5S and Kanban, which only depend on the personal will for its application.
The 5S method is named after the first letter of 5 Japanese words:

  New year, new opportunities
  The myth of success and the gospel of vulnerability
  Learning, Apprehending, Entrepreneuring.
  What kind of carbon are you?



Personal goal





separate the necessary from the unnecessary

Discard what has not been used and has no value. We often accumulate things and feelings that do not add anything to our lives

Set in order


Put everything in its place, according to the frequency of use

Organize the space available for free/fast  access to those things that will be used



Clean and care for the environment

Improve the quality of life, health and hygiene



Create norms and standards

Clear rules to housekeeping and cleaning the environment and especially body and mind



It is easier when everyone helps

Encourage people with whom we live to help us housekeeping and cleaning

This method can help in every area, enriching our way of life collectively and individually. It enables better results and more security in our actions, increasing the quality of life:
• shorter  time looking for things, because they will be reachable;
• less waste, because there will be no "lost" items subject to degradation;
• lower risk of accidents by stumbling on things scattered everywhere.

Kanban literally means "card" or "signal". The method consists of using cards to "pull" the movement of items and trigger activities throughout the production process. Similarly, our goals for the new year should be reflected in our to-do list, that can be organized and monitored on a spreadsheet: kanban.xlsx (click here to download).
Start by listing in the column "TO PLAN" all things you want or have to do.
Then transfer each activity for the column "Priorities", starting with the items with the highest priority to the lowest priority. The criterion for prioritizing is, "what is the importance of this item for me to fulfill my life purpose?" (If you do not have clarity regarding your life's purpose, see tips at the end of this text).
According to the priorities and your capacity to perform, distribute activities in the following columns - "THIS YEAR", "THIS MONTH", "THIS WEEK", "Tomorrow", "TODAY" - starting with the items with the highest priority.
Under "TODAY", put only the most important and most urgent items. Do not set up goals above your capacity – you would only accumulate frustrations.
As you initiate an activity, transfer it to the column "I AM DOING", or to the column "THIRD PARTY" if someone else is going to do it. Avoid keeping many active items in these two columns to not lose control. If necessary, transfer the item to the column "HOLD", while analyzing whether to wait or reschedule that activity.
Each item that goes into the column "DONE" or the column "GONE WRONG" pulls the next activity of the queue. The items that go to the column "GONE WRONG" should be analyzed and eventually return to the column "TO PLAN".
At any time, if an unforeseen activity just pop up, you should follow the same procedure. Put it in the column "TO PLAN", identify its priority over other planned activities and move it to the appropriate column. Watch out for "emergencies." Not always what it seems urgent is more important than other activities already planned and prioritized.
On a daily basis, update the queue, celebrate achievements, and consider whether there were activities that "jumped the queue". Learn from what "GONE WRONG": failures are opportunities to improve the process, in order to achieve better results.
Remember that we have a natural resistance to changes, with the impression that "it is not worth so much effort".  But if we apply the 5S and Kanban, we can achieve a life with more quality and, after filling the spreadsheet, it will not take much time to monitor the plan. So take the following commitments:
• Try for 30 days. After this period, evaluate the result.
• Celebrate the successes. The more pleasurable, the easier for keeping your plan on track.
• Get used to thinking of the 5S in every action or decision of your life.
• Incorporate these concepts to your mental process.


About Life Purpose

Purpose is the synthesis of your mission in this world or your reason for living – it has to do with why you choose each goal. The goals that are achieved without being aligned with a purpose do not bring lasting satisfaction. When we do what is bound to a life purpose, it becomes a source of joy and true fulfillment.
To find or confirm your life purpose, consider these questions:
• What do you like so much to do that you do not see time passing by?
• What makes your heart beat faster?
• What's a cause that worth living (and dying) for?

Covey warns against a life centered on external factors, whether noble or not, such as family, work, pleasure, money, church, friends, enemies. He recommends balancing the aspects of independence and interdependence based on universal principles such as fairness, integrity, dignity, excellence, patience, etc.

Warren says that those principles have to do with our inherent human nature. Therefore, he recommends consulting the "manufacturer's manual", as he quotes Bertrand Russell:
"Unless one admits the existence of God, the question referred to the purpose of life is meaningless."

Additional reading:
"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", by Stephen R. Covey, FranklinCovey.
"The Purpose Driven Life", by Rick Warren, Zondervan.
“Freedom from Tyranny of the Urgent", by Charles E. Hummel, InterVarsity.


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