A written list helps to keep us focused.

In 2016, the Mars company sponsored a great commercial. A tattoo artist is distracted by simultaneously eating a Milky Way candy bar and tattooing a man’s arm. The tattoo should have read, No Regrets. But, it didn’t. It read, No Regerts. (click here to see commercial)

We are continuously bombarded by distractions. They interfere with our lives, nearly every hour of every day. It’s hard to avoid them. Our ‘to do’ lists are supposed to help us focus on things that must get done each day – the real priorities. I find that even having something written down doesn’t ensure that it will happen. Not having it written down almost guarantees it will not happen.

New priorities pop up in our lives. We must decide if they take priority over our existing priorities. Many times, we don’t rewrite the original ‘to do’ list to include the ‘pop up’ priority. Two things might occur when that happens. One is that the new priority gets all the time and effort and gets completed. The second is that the previously written ‘to do’ items don’t get done.

Health is low on our priority lists. Most people don’t identify health as a priority and include it on our daily ‘to do’ list. Does your ‘to do’ list include, drink more water, eat less of a particular kind of food, eat more of a particular kind of food, park farther away when possible, take a couple of minutes and relax-take several deep breaths, look at every label for toxins, etc? Small incremental habits done daily make a difference in long-term health.

We think about our families, our finances, our vacations, our cars, our cell phones, our spiritual lives, our friends, our jobs, and many more things more often than we think about improving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Jeff Olson wrote The Slight Edge. In it, he states that incremental changes made daily can have huge effects in the future. Those effects can be good or bad. Supersizing a meal once a week might not seem like a lot of extra food. That little extra tasted good. That extra helping once a week can become a habit. We change our lifestyle to include more calories than a year ago or more. Those extra calories add up and can affect our health in the future.

Likewise, going to the gym five days a week is a good thing. It might become easy to skip a day of exercise when the weather is bad. We miss a day this week. We might miss a day or two next week. by the end of the year the regular routine of five days a week becomes four days a week. Those extra unburned calories add up. We allow temporary decisions or choices to become habits. Sometimes the habits are good and sometimes they are not good.

All of us had to read throughout our school years. After school, over 95% of former students don’t read a book a year. I was one of them who read during my earlier school years and gave up reading after I graduated. Nowadays, I read daily and finish a book a week on average. But, not reading was once a habit in my life.

What are you doing differently today than you did two years ago? Five years ago? Ten years ago? Is your life better, or worse? How might these habits affect your future?

Health is similar. Our parents taught us to eat a certain way. When we became independent, we adopted different eating habits. For me, meals were fixed and eaten in the home when I lived at home. Rarely, did my parents ever take all nine of us kids out to dinner.

My mother taught me to cook when I entered seventh grade. I would routinely cook the main meal of the day for my family, all eleven of us. I enjoyed cooking then, and I still enjoy it today. The habit was to cook and eat at home.

My cooking and eating habits changed after I left home, went to college, got married, joined the military, and started raising a family. Necessity demanded a different lifestyle. I prefer to cook and eat at home, but it does not always work. When I eat out, I do make healthier choices compared to a couple of decades ago.

Eating healthy is one part of a much larger equation of a healthy lifestyle. Daily stress reduction, balanced nutrition, exercise, intermittent fasting, caloric restriction, toxin removal, etc. contribute to a healthy lifestyle. We need to address these and other issues daily to be healthy in our retirement lives.

What do you have written on your ‘to do’ list for tomorrow? Any line item about your health or future health?





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