A business strategy that revolutionised Toyota's production in the 1970s works just as well to build wealth, lose weight, and have happier relationships

AYA images/ShutterstockShift your mindset.
  • Toyota has relied on a “just in time” manufacturing philosophy since the 1970s. That means the company makes only what is needed, when it’s needed, and in the amount needed.
  • You can apply the same logic by focusing on abundance instead of scarcity in your life, writes life coach Martha Beck in Oprah magazine.
  • Doing so can help you lose weight, build wealth, and improve your relationships.
  • For example, if you believe love is scarce you may micromanage people, and thereby push them away.

An old issue of Oprah magazine has some great advice for anyone trying to lose weight, get richer, or improve their relationship – basically anyone trying to be a better version of themselves – in the new year.

Martha Beck, a life coach, speaker, and author, draws inspiration from a manufacturing philosophy at Toyota Motor Co. called “just in time.” The idea, according to Toyota’s website, is to make “only what is needed, when it is needed, and in the amount needed,” thereby eliminating waste and inconsistencies and boosting productivity.

According to the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing, the just-in-time philosophy has been in practice since the early 1970s in many Japanese manufacturing organisations, to help meet consumer demands with minimal delays.

The more traditional alternative to just-in-time manufacturing is “just in case,” meaning companies keep large inventories on hand so that products don’t go out of stock.

Beck writes that a key to improving your life is shifting from a just-in-case mindset to a just-in-time one.

She writes:

“Most of us are living in some kind of excess; we work too much, eat too much, rack up debt buying too much stuff. Yet, driven by the unconscious, just-in-case assumption that ‘everything good is scarce,’ we just keep doing and accumulating more.”

Perhaps the best example Beck shares to illustrate the perils of the just-in-case mindset has to do with love.

She writes:

“Anxious lovers have their partners followed. Parents micromanage children. People-pleasers try to manipulate everyone into liking them. This behaviour isn’t love; it’s a fear-based outcome of believing love is scarce.”

The problem is that this hoarding-type behaviour can backfire. Beck says, “If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of such anxious machinations, you know they make you want to run, not bond.”

Read more: There’s one big reason to break up with someone, even if you love them

Focus on areas of abundance in your life

Instead, Beck urges readers to “focus on the abundance of your environment” by listing 10 areas of your life where you have too much, not too little.

In the case of love, focusing on abundance might ultimately mean saying, in Beck’s words, “I’ll always love you, and I really don’t care what you do,” – that is, I’m not dependent on your choices.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time someone smart has applied a Toyota manufacturing principle to life in general.

Charles Duhigg, author of “Smarter Faster Better” and “The Power of Habit,” wrote in The New York Times about how he used the “Five Whys” strategy to finally stop skipping dinner with his family.

The Five Whys process is straightforward: Ask “why” five times and you’ll find the core issue that needs a resolution. Using this process, Duhigg was surprised to learn that he was missing dinner because the kids took a long time getting ready in the morning.

As for Beck, she writes in Oprah that, years ago, she started listing “wonderful things” that materialised at “just the right time,” without any effort from her, and she still hasn’t finished.

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