The COVID-19 pandemic has woken many of us up from our routines and sped up many slow moving problems that existed before it hit us. The parts of our health or our social systems that we could not manage well have been pushed to a critical point. We can no longer avoid changing our approach.
I think a system of business development I adopted long ago for personal development can help us manage the many changes we need to make and do it with hope and care. It’s called >Plan-Do-Check-Act or PDCA.
Plan: Set a goal and a strategy for achieving it
Do: Start carrying out your strategy
Check: Look at your progress toward your goal at regular intervals
Act: Adjust your strategy based on your evaluation and put it into effect
PDCA tells us to set a direction for ourselves and to track our progress along the way. Rather than simply having a wish or dream, with PDCA we can bring that dream down to earth with a realistic plan and a way to move forward. It also reminds us not to keep going blindly toward our dream. Instead, it says to check our progress to see if we’re really going in the right direction and whether our initial plan is still valid.
For example, let’s say you want to lose weight. Based on PDCA, you would set a goal to lose a certain amount of weight by a certain time. Then you would make a plan about how you will do it. You’d detail what foods you will eat, how much food, and at what times. You would plan out your exercise routines and develop a strategy for overcoming resistance and distractions. Acting on your plan, you would keep track of your weight, as well as your food and exercise, every day around the same time. If you noticed that you weren’t losing weight fast enough to reach your goal weight by the time you set, you would adjust your strategy, perhaps adding more exercise or more sleep to your daily regimen. If you saw that your work interfered with your exercise, you might change the time at which you worked out. By paying close attention to the details of your goal and keeping close track of your progress, you raise your chances of reaching your goal in time.
Using PDCA is a way to be mindful about our lives. It prevents us from easily falling into a routine that’s not working and not realizing it until another crisis shakes us up. By continuously doing Check and Act, we’re able to see and understand more from our experience than we could when we first devised our plan. It gives us a sense of the present reality. With PDCA, we can manage ourselves more precisely and find the smoothest path.
Manage Your Emotions by Managing Your Goals
Part of managing ourselves is managing our emotions. Planning involves relaxing and establishing action steps with a clear mind–quite the opposite of worrying. If you have a good plan, then you don’t need to be anxious. You just need to keep checking, revising your plan, and acting on it, and you’ll be able to take the challenges you meet in stride.
Fill all of your time with PDCA, and you won’t have time to worry. With commitment to your goal, continuously ask yourself: “Am I doing PDCA now? Am I planning? Am I doing what I planned? Am I checking? Am I taking action now?” Focusing on your goals like this through PDCA sends more energy to them. Your goals will be achieved when enough energy has been given to them. In this way, you can achieve anything.
It Develops Your Character
The challenge of working toward your goals without fear of failure makes you more assertive and self-confident. It awakens a sense of survival and accomplishment in you. Someone who is self-assured, and who moves their own heart with their sincerity and gratitude, receives help from those around them. It’s just like the saying, “Heaven helps those who help themselves.”
PDCA is essentially a tool for training our character. Choosing is half of it. Then action follows. All you have to do is train yourself with repetition. Choose, act, choose, act and you’ll find the way through any challenge.
Learn more about PDCA in this video: