Do you believe you know enough about health and wellness to make a significant impact on your weight, energy level, performance, and overall level of wellness? You definitely do. You may not know everything you need to know, but surely know enough to do better than you currently are. There are certainly things that you are currently doing that you know you shouldn’t, and you are not doing things currently that you know you should.
There are times that we get into a groove and really make progress, but even then, the wheels seem to fall off, and we fall back into our old bad habits. Why does this happen? Why do we continue to fail when it comes to living healthy, performing better, and acting the best we can?
I study successful systems. If I see something that works well, I try to pick out the reasons why it works. If there is a successful business, I look to see what makes it so special. If I see a really successful coach, I try to pick out the things that they do different to do as well as they do. I even study successful relationships to see what traits are present and consistent. The idea is that I can apply those characteristics to my own life, modeling successful behaviors or traits of others, which increases the likelihood of success.
One day I was thinking about the safety of air travel. How could there be over 5,500 commercial flights in the U.S. every single day (and add to that all of the private flights), yet so few crashes? It is staggering to think how safe air travel really is. I gave a lot of thought to why it is so safe. There are redundant systems within airplanes, meaning if a gauge fails, there is usually a backup to take its place. Airplanes are also required to have very regular inspections by certified mechanics and need the engine and other parts replaced after so many hours of use, regardless of their condition. Pilots are also required to go through rigorous training to get their license, have advanced certifications that require hours of study and practical training, have to pass a particular medical examination, and are required to do regular re-examinations to remain current and retain their license.
There was one thing that stood out to me, though, as I thought about the incredible safety record in aviation. It is the checklist. I first noticed this when I was training for my private pilot’s license. Before each flight, I was required to pull out a checklist. Before taking off, each thing listed on that checklist is confirmed by the pilot. This includes everything from a pre-flight inspection of the aircraft, a review of all the switches and gauges, and procedural steps to follow for proper start-up, roll-out, and take-off.
It makes sense for a newer pilot to have to rely on a checklist, but after years of flying, is it necessary? I have logged hundreds of hours flying, yet am required to go through that checklist before each and every flight. My flight instructor has thousands of hours of flight, and even he has to go through that same checklist. Commercial pilots have their own checklists that they go through no matter what plane they are in and no matter how much experience they have. This is a critical key to the success and safety of aviation. This greatly reduces the risk of human error, sloppiness, and simple mistakes. It is this checklist that helps make my flights with my family across the Midwest safer than driving.
So, you want to improve your odds of succeeding in your efforts to be healthier? Make a checklist. List the things you know you need to do each day and check them off as they get done. Look at it throughout the day, and make sure that before you go to bed, you get each item done.
This list should not be super long, nor should it be your to-do list that changes every day. This list should contain the fundamental things that you need to do every day to perform at your best and express optimal health. It should include certain foods you need to consume, the supplements you need to take, specific exercises you want to complete, and even prayer, meditation, and/or gratitude exercises. I would even add thank-you’s and I love you’s so those get expressed too.
A checklist will help ensure that you do not let life’s most important action steps slip by. It will help you become more consistent with healthy behaviors. And as you develop better habits and start to think you do not need the checklist, think again. Continue using it.