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What “Better Than Yesterday” Means to Me

Back when I was in high school, I remember thinking that standardized tests would either be my ticket to the big leagues or lead to my catastrophic downfall. While that may have just been the dramatic teenage hormones talking, this mindset did lead me to have my first encounter with serious goal setting. Four months before my first test, I wrote my goal score on a sticky note, hung it above my desk, and sat down to make a calendar of what I would do every day leading up to the test.

“It means that every day that we put in the work, we’re getting closer to reaching our goals, regardless of whether or not we felt better on that particular day.”

Over the course of those next few months I took countless practice tests, learned more strategies than I could use, and flipped through stacks of vocabulary flashcards. Most days after school, practices, and homework, the last thing I wanted to do was study, but I made sure to at least do something small every day that would get me closer to that daunting number hanging above my desk. When it came to test day, despite my nerves, I did even better than that goal I had set four months earlier.

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While tests in high school turned out to be much less significant in life than I thought they would be, the process I went through to reach my goals taught me some pretty critical lessons that have stuck with me far longer than any of those vocab words I memorized. Most of what this situation taught me was that the big goals we reach in life don’t happen in big steps. Instead, we realize those goals through tiny, incremental steps that slowly add up to the important stuff. This holds true across the board in nearly every aspect of self-improvement that we can think of; school, fitness, work, relationships, even things like cooking.

“Progress doesn’t come easy, but it will come if we commit to steady improvement.”

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The hard part with this though, is that it means we don’t get to “see” progress happening since it comes in such small steps. Instead, we have to learn to trust the process, believing wholeheartedly that the work we’re putting in will pay off down the road. This is what “Better Than Yesterday” means to me. This one simple quote reminds me to spend even just a little bit of time each day working on improving myself. It means that every day that we put in the work, we’re getting closer to reaching our goals, regardless of whether or not we felt better on that particular day. Not every day will be a good day. So many things in life are out of our control, and we all feel too busy to make progress sometimes. But with this mindset, we don’t have to hit major milestones every day. In fact, those days that feel hard but we still put in the work are invaluable at teaching us to endure. Progress doesn’t come easy, but it will come if we commit to steady improvement.

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Every time I look above the whiteboard and see those words now, I’m reminded to trust the process, and that if I put my head down and work, I am on my way to becoming the best version of myself, whether I see it or not. But whatever the quote means to you, let it serve as a reminder that every day, both in the gym and out, we should seek to take a step forward and not backward. Let’s go be better than yesterday.

–Jay Alexander

Coach/Trainer

jay@crossfitslipstream.com