Getting Better All The Time

In the 1967 Beatles classic, McCartney and Lennon sang a persistent mantra: “It’s getting better all the time.” They contrasted life’s problems, including bad teachers in school, general dissatisfaction and anger, and bumpy relationships, with the idea of continuous improvement as their prescriptive cure.

As we look into the future, most of us are hungry for change. We want to improve our careers, families, health, relationships, knowledge base and impact. Daydreaming about a fresh start or an adventurous future isn’t the hard part.

Where most of us lose steam is the act of actually doing the work that leads to achievement. In fact, many fall into the trap of not trying at all since the path can feel so overwhelming.

Rather than becoming discouraged by the distance you need to travel, focus on taking small, daily steps. Sprinting and then burning out rarely leads to conquered goals. The Beatles approach of “getting better all the time” is not only more palatable but also more productive.

Toyota embraced the post-WWII concept of kaizen, a commitment to continuous improvement. This philosophy became its guiding principle and is now embraced by most rival auto manufacturers. Focusing on small improvements with rhythmic consistency adds up to enormous gains over time, the theory goes.

Why not apply a little kaizen to your own life?

Break down your larger aspirations into tiny areas for improvement. If you want to become an expert in European literature, start by reading just five pages a day.

Chipping away at a goal a little bit at a time is the most effective strategy. This applies to any area of life — from passion projects to community repair to organizational development.

Let’s do the math. If you improve in a certain area by only 1% per week, you will have generated a 50%-plus gain in just a year.

Drop a half-pound each week, and you just lost 13 pounds in six months. Read 1% more each day. Drink 1% more water. Practice guitar 1% more. Show 1% more kindness to others.

What may feel like tiny improvements will add up to giant wins by remaining consistent.

As you turn out the lights each night, ask yourself a simple question: “Did I get better today?”

If the answer is yes, you’re actively in the process of seizing your full potential. If not, there’s always tomorrow.

Stay focused on getting better all the time, and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying strawberry fields forever.