Wabi Sabi – Embrace Imperfection

wabi-sabi-pot3Wabi Sabi – I love the way the words sounds almost as much as the concept it represents – It’s a Japanese term (reminiscent of “wasabi”) that doesn’t translate neatly into English. It represents an aesthetic or worldview that celebrates the imperfect, the impermanent, and the incomplete. I like to think of it in terms of beauty, such as the uniqueness of slightly off-center ceramic bowl, or a still-vibrant flower whose petal edges are beginning to brown.

I constantly try to apply wabi sabi to my life and my coaching. It helps me to remember that there is value, beauty and immense worth in each of us, though none of us is perfect. It reminds me not to put my dreams on hold until I somehow reach that elusive goal of perfection. It allows me to live with myself when I gild the lily (last night’s pizza), lose my temper with my kids, or indulge in gossip. (I could go on and on.)

As a coach, I’ve chosen health and wellness as my niche not because I’ve got it all down cold, but because it’s something I’m passionate about. I love to get to the bottom of diet and fitness trends, try healthy recipes, and learn all I can about mindfulness, positive psychology and health. This blog is my vehicle to share what I learn with a broader audience so that we can all move towards a healthier lifestyle.

e57da547de4a1a76c6058c07aa091bd4You will never be disease-free, trim, fit, ageless, altruistic, balanced, AND have perfect blood pressure. Nor should you aspire to be, in my opinion. We’re all a work in progress. We must accept, or someday even relish our imperfections. Embrace wabi sabi. Meanwhile, focus on the specific things that have greatest meaning to you and work to be the best you can be in those areas.

Recipe for Success

When we set a goal for ourselves, very often the difference between success and failure is our mindset. I’d say it’s the single most important factor in the outcome. So before you embark on making a change in your life — starting a new business, a new exercise routine, going back to school, finding a partner, deciding to lose weight – it’s helpful to ask yourself a few questions.

How committed are you?

Exactly how hard are you willing to work?

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What doubts do you have?

What does reaching this goal mean to you?

Do you expect that you’ll see it through?

What happens if you fail?

Who can and will support your efforts?

How will you handle the first obstacle you encounter? The second?

When will you know you’ve succeeded?

These questions are meant to help you reflect on your own level of commitment as well as your doubts. Once you have a handle on these, you’ll be better prepared to move ahead with a mindset for success. Good luck!

A Coaches Journey

Watch this inspiring video for a powerful explanation of what coaching allows people to achieve. The two coaches featured are personal trainers (which coincides nicely with health and wellness coaching, thank you!) yet their message is about fundamental changes in the person, not just the body. Find your “why.”

A Coaches Journey ~ a film by Michael Hanson from michael hanson on Vimeo.

Want to Succeed? Monitor Yourself

Have you ever heard of the “quantified self?” It’s what happens when technology meets self-monitoring. Other catchy phrases referencing the same thing are lifelogging, autoanalytics, and self-tracking. Self-monitoring is not a new idea (early adopters include Saint Ignatius and Benjamin Franklin), and most of us have been doing it for years in some form or another – think bathroom scales and heart rate monitors. But as a tried and true idea, self-monitoring — enhanced by technology — is gaining traction. Tracking the details of your daily existence has become hugely popular in the health and wellness industry because it’s effective and computers and smart phones have made it almost effortless.

If your goal is weight loss, diligently recording your food intake along with your activity level will dramatically increase your chances of success. Why? Because tracking diet and exercise increases your self-awareness on several counts. It keeps you focused on your goal, strengthens your commitment to self-improvement, increases your feeling of control, helps you understand patterns in your eating and exercise habits, provides a detailed picture of your progress, and promotes a more positive mood.

Sleep-Cycle-briefapps-icon-150x150But why stop at diet and exercise? We have a seemingly limitless choice of technology to help us track just about anything. From our moods (Mood Panda), to sleeping (Sleep Cycle), and even our menstrual cycle (iPeriod). The novelty is seductive, yet if you can find an app or even create a spreadsheet or handwritten chart that supports you in reaching your goal of self improvement, use it! Self-awareness is the key, and cultivating it through closely monitoring your activities will keep you on track and accountable.

I’ve used Strava and Sleep Cycle and have a client who swears by Fitbit. What tools do you recommend? I’d love to hear about your favorites in the comment section below.



Kirschenbaum, Daniel S. Ph.D. (2000) The 9 Truths About Weight Loss. New York. Henry Holt & Co.

Baumeister, R. F. and J. Tierney (2011) Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. New York. Penguin.