Every year I come up with a slogan to live by. At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s I’ll put on a wristband with the slogan I’ve selected. The chosen slogan for 2020 was Better Than Yesterday. I chose this slogan because I liked the message of constant self improvement from the day before.
As the year has progressed, I’ve come to realize there are shortcomings to the slogan Better Than Yesterday. My feeling towards the phrase festered to the point I’ve recently removed the wrist band from my arm. Scandalous to say the least! You might think what is wrong with the phrase? After some deep thinking I’ve come up with three reasons why the slogan Better Than Yesterday doesn’t live up to standards. Afterwards I’ve come up with an alternate phrase to counter Better Than Yesterday.
1. Unrealistic Expectations
Better Than Yesterday indicates you should always be better than the day before. Unfortunately that’s not how things work. Even if you give your best effort, there will be days that don’t go as well. Let’s say you play golf everyday for a week. Anybody who plays golf knows there are days you can’t sink a putt or keep a drive in the fairway to save your life. This idea that if you play seven consecutive days and play marginally better each day is unrealistic. You might start forcing the action to play better, which will in turn make you play worse. You’ll go from thinking Better Than Yesterday to instead thinking Worse Than Yesterday.
2. Pressure to Take No Days Off
If you wake up and shout Better Than Yesterday, your mentality becomes one-upping whatever you did yesterday. If your goal is to one-up what you accomplished yesterday, you likely won’t take time to recharge. Over time your mind and body will fatigue. Eventually you’ll begin to see diminishing return on your efforts. The mental frustration along with physical fatigue can lead to burnout. Think back to our golf example. If you played poorly the last few days you might have a burning desire to get back out the following day to make amends. The issue may not be your physical swing, when in reality your mind is pressing too hard. The best solution is take time away from the course, which can reset your mind to perform at a higher level.
3. Too Short Term Oriented
Comparing yourself to yesterday can cause a loss of perspective. There may not have been improvement from yesterday, and if there was improvement it was too marginal to even notice. The real growth happens over a longer period of time. Think back to when you were a child and tracking your height as you aged. From your perspective you look the exact same height as you did yesterday. If you’re always making a comparison solely to yesterday you aren’t going to notice your physical height increasing. Now compare your own day to day perspective with somebody who only gets to see you once or twice a year. That person remarks how much you’ve grown from the last time he or she saw you. The reason this person notices the growth is because their comparison point is from the last time they saw you, whether that’s three months ago or a year ago.
It’s critical to maintain perspective when tracking your growth over time. We choose how we look at the past, which as a result influences our current perspective and motivation for the future. Therefore compare your ability today to where you were over a longer period of time. The slogan Better Than Yesterday should be converted to Better Than Last Week, Better Than Last Month, or Better Than Last Year. You decide which length is right for you based off your unique challenges. This shift allows for a longer term perspective while eliminating unnecessary pressure and unrealistic expectations to improve day to day.
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