"I want to be world class at life. But I'll settle with better than yesterday."
- James Altucher
Better is what we're all after. Better than our neighbours. Better than our peers. Better than those people we read about on the Internet. Better than what we're doing right now.
Yet, we like a routine and we like a plan. We don't want to deviate much from what we did yesterday. We don't want to increase the time we spend at the gym, or the time we spend at work. But yes, we want to get better.
Routine is another definition for comfort zone. If you do something day after day, in the same way, you get comfortable doing it. And that becomes your routine. In fact, the best way to learn something new is to weave that into your routine.
Routines are essential, but they are not everything. There's more to it. Routine doesn't leave room for reinvention. Routine doesn't leave room for discovery. Routine runs orthogonal to serendipity. A lion in the zoo has the same routine everyday, but it is no longer the king of the jungle.
Make room for something new. Stick to a routine, but also aim for a little bit better than yesterday.
Aiming for better than yesterday has another advantage. In aiming for better than yesterday, we are no longer aiming for better than our neighbours or better than our peers. And that makes things that much easier in actually getting there.
If you are training in any sport, or hitting the gym with a 12-week plan, you will know that each session starts with the goal of doing better than the previous session. If you're training for a marathon, you will aim to cut your pace by a second or two each day. If you're hitting the gym, you will aim to lift an additional five pounds week on week. And you ought to do this diligently if you want to be world class at that sport.
In the same way, you need to aim for better than yesterday to be world class in life.