Compare Yourself to Who You Were Yesterday: Jordan Peterson Rule #4. Success is not Overnight

by | May 3, 2020

You can use the ideal body, the calm mind, the bank account balance as inspiration to achieve the goal, as a pointer to know where you’re going, but it’s the daily actions taken, the little incremental improvements daily compound upon one another.

Video: Applying Jordan Peterson in YOUR life- Rule #4

I’m a huge fan of Jordan Peterson, and believe his book 12 Rules for Life has benefited humanity tremendously. Thousands of testimonials describe how his knowledge, wisdom, and advice, when actively applied, helped shape peoples’ lives for the better.

Today let’s focus on Rule #4- “Compare Yourself to Who You Were Yesterday, not to who someone else is today.”

If you improve some aspect of your life or take a step towards a goal you’ve made, you’ll look in the mirror at night, knowing you’ve improved, however slightly, over who you were yesterday.

It’s how you build a business, how you build your knowledge base, how the mightiest of trees grow, and why entire countries, for example, post WWII Japan has succeeded and become a competitive economic force in the world.

The Japanese even have a word for it, “Kaizen,” which means constant and never ending improvement, and it’s the ethos that built Japanese industry, raised the standard of quality of their products, forcing everybody, including the USA, to up their game in order to stay competitive, raising the quality of lives around the world.

The same can be said for Elon Musk and Tesla. If you take a look at the quality of the first Roadster and compare that to what the company produces today, they are, pardon the pun, miles apart.

And Teslas just keep getting better.

The day by day differences don’t have to be big, the steps don’t have to be large; but taken daily, they quickly not only add up, but compound.

The beauty is the compounding benefits will expand and lead to successes in many more areas of your life, not just what you might be focusing on now.

Now to apply the rule to our lives, and specifically yours.

You can look at where most people are, see their recent trajectory, and extrapolate that out into the future. Most of them will be sitting on that the same couch 5, 10, 20 years in the future. A majority of people don’t change much.

But then a wrench gets thrown in that slow moving vehicle, in the form of being exposed to Jordan Peterson’s rule #4. We start applying it in our lives, setting a goal, and taking daily small steps towards its attainment.

“I only want to get a little bit better today. I want to be able to look at myself tonight when I go to sleep, and know that I’ve grown just a little, made some progress towards my goal. Even if it’s a small move in that direction.”

Those actions begin to compound on themselves.

Let’s say you’ve got 25 pounds you’d like to lose. You’re not going to do it in one day, unless you cut off a limb, which I believe a majority of doctors would not recommend.

And it doesn’t do you any good to compare yourself and become envious of a fit friend. They have what you want, but jealousy doesn’t help you get there.

And no one can do the heavy lifting for you. Not only do you have to reach that goal on your own, you’re far better off doing so long term than if someone handed it to you on a silver platter, or liposuctioned it for you.

So you get a plan together. Okay great, you’re further along than you were yesterday. You have a plan. You’ve taken a step in that direction. A man with a plan.

Day 2, you start enacting that plan. You eat a lot of vegetables, some protein, and stay away from sugar, and go for a walk outside. You might weigh the same the next day, but you’re moving along that path. You can feel good about what you’ve done. Two days ago you were lethargic and unmotivated, now you’re a few steps down the road towards your goal. Compare those two people, where would you rather be?

A couple days more go by, and maybe you just have more energy even though you don’t notice any changes physically. You’ve improved yourself.

These improvements compound on themselves. They seem like small steps, and maybe they are. But every tiny success you have, you begin to realize that you can change your life for the better. You’re able to take that energy, you take the knowledge of what you’ve done into the rest of your life.

So let’s say a few months go by, and you’ve lost the extra poundage. You compare yourself to that out of shape, old fat self, and realize you’re better off today.

You might not look like the fitness model, but look at David Goggins and what he managed to do, going from 300 pounds to the ultra-motivational super ripped man he is today.

David Goggins before and after photo


One step at a time.

Goggins says he reached his breaking point after a night working as a roach exterminator, laced up his shoes and couldn’t make down the block. Slowly, he went from there, through the force of determination to being a navy seal, and running 100 miles at time.

Compare yourself to who were yesterday. Then keep going down that path of unrelenting self-improvement. Make it a habit, that’s how it lasts, and how you get there. Make the actions that need to be taken habits. Measure them if you can, as in weight-loss.

For me, I’ve been meditating every day. Like most of you, my mind runs around like crazy, from thought to thought. I’m not Eckhart Tolle, who, when told magician and stunt artist David Blaine held his breath for eight minutes under water, joked “Let’s see him not think for eight minutes.”

I’m not there. I’m not close. Eckhart Tolle is my fitness model, but everyday that I practice my mind clears up a little, and my body feels just a little more electric.

You can use the ideal body, the calm mind, the bank account balance as inspiration to achieve the goal, as a pointer to know where you’re going, but it’s the daily actions taken, the little incremental improvements daily compound upon one another.

Then you make that goal. You’ve improved yourself, and you begin to apply that added energy, confidence, and competence into other areas of your life.

Suddenly, you’re able to take on a bigger load, greater responsibility.

As you free yourself from the shackles of your perceived limits, your ability to manifest a better you shines brightly in the minds of your friends and loved ones dubious of their own abilities, and you act as a guiding light for them to unlock their own potential.

Let’s all start to tap into that power within us. Break free from the doubts, not by dispelling them immediately, but taking daily actions in spite of them. With each small step you take towards the light, the dark doubting mind recedes behind you.

Each and every one of us is capable of it.

Please write in the comments below something that you might want to get better at, to change, to learn, and the first step you might take down that road. Or maybe something that you have put in motion that came to fruition. The mere act of writing something down, outs your mind in motion towards its attainment.

And if you think this would inspire someone else, share it with them!


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