Six simple steps to overcoming your fears and reaching your goals

Most of us would like to achieve a secure financial future and long-lasting good health but, though we know changes are necessary, it can be hard to make that start.

So just why are we putting off acting to secure our longer-term goals?

Psychologist Anjula Mutanda believes delaying and stalling change in our lives is something many of us have in common.

"We're prone to talking ourselves out of things," she says. "Over-thinking can lead us into a downward spiral.

"This is where we get in the way of ourselves by developing negative thinking habits that become very entrenched without us even realising."

But, the good news is those bad habits can be easily overcome.

Here, Anjula shares six steps that will help lead you to a brighter future.  

Take control

One of the keys to breaking down our mental barriers is knowing our own minds and observing the way we think.

Anjula says: "People don’t notice the way they think and can get into very bad habits. Take control by observing the way your mind works so you can say, 'There I go again, I’m talking myself out of it'. If you can do that you’re 50 per cent there."  

Don’t think, just do

If over-thinking presents one of our greatest obstacles to change, then Anjula has some clear advice.

"The thing to do when you want to motivate yourself is, 'Don’t think, just do.'

"You might say, ‘I can’t go for a walk because it’s raining,' but you just go anyway. As soon as you do that you immediately break the habit.

"Our brains are very malleable. They’re not fixed. So just because you’ve always thought of something one way, it doesn’t mean that’s how you’ll always think about it."

Small steps

Whether our goals are financial or health-related, or both, we are more likely to succeed, says Anjula, if we set ourselves realistic targets.

She explains: "Break things down into small manageable steps that seem doable and then do them.

"Make small lists, not big ones. Then, if it’s a list of three things, do the first, tick it off, then so on, making things smaller and more manageable."

Keep temptation at bay

When it comes to improving our diets, there are practical things we can do to stop ourselves eating less healthy foods, says Anjula.

"If, for instance, you have sugar and junk food in the house then put it in the freezer.

"It's a delaying tactic because, if it involves effort to use it, you’ll probably just do without.

"A lot of people when they go around a supermarket end up buying twice as much as they intended to, so one way to short circuit that is to do your shopping online. It takes out the excess."

Teaming up

Anjula believes one of the best things we can do to motivate ourselves is to team up with a friend or join a club.

She says: "If you have a buddy system, you and your friend are following a plan together and you're checking in and keeping a diary and encouraging each other.

"That's a really positive, functional way of approaching things so you don't feel lonely and isolated.

"Joining a club can help motivate you too, but you have to make that start and sign up straight away."

Money matters

Turning a blind eye to our financial future could be harmful in the longer-term so, says Anjula, it's time to face facts.

She says: "Money is called hard cash, but it's not. It's all about emotion. With every pound in your pocket, it’s associated with an emotion. So you turn it into a project.

"Make a date in your diary where you look at your bank statement and bills.

"You can set up a text alert on your phone for when your balance falls below a certain level.

"For putting money aside, set up a standing order so that you're automatically putting money away every month – it doesn’t matter whether it's £50 or £500.

"You're treating your finances as a business, taking the emotion out of it and giving you control."

"All these things are about making a start, and once you take that first step, the second step is much easier."