Growing obesity and higher levels of personal debt are 2 different modern phenomenon. There is no obvious connection between the two, but both problems share many similarities. These ideas suggest that the solution to many of our problems share certain key characteristics.
Whatever we wish to achieve, the solution is rarely gained through looking for some miracle product. The solution invariably lies through a change in our attitude and frame of mind.
The Road is Paved with Good Intentions
It is good to have a hope for achieving our targets. But, to be successful, we need more than half-hearted good intentions. To make significant changes in our life we need to be focused and fully committed. Alas, we cannot reduce weight by talking about how desirable it would be. Nor can we reduce our debt through wishful thinking; it requires determination and continued commitment.
Life Long habits
We are constantly bombarded by instant fixes — the seven week diet, and debt settlement plans which will solve all our money problems. These products are marketed as the panacea to all our problems. However, they rarely tackle the underlying problems.
Switching debt to lower interest rates is good. But, it doesn’t resolve the fundamental problem which is our desire to spend more than income. Crash diets often have a temporary effect, only for the weight to later pile back on. Successful dieters suggest that the most successful solution is careful, common sense, sustainable changes to our diet. To reduce our propensity to get into debt, we need to carefully re-evaluate our spending patterns – not just keep looking for the latest financial product.
Change Your Thinking
It is our own thinking that determines our outer circumstances. Perhaps our weight problem is due to our association between eating and happiness. Perhaps subconsciously we feel that if we eat our problems can be temporarily ignored. Unless we tackle thought patterns such as these, dieting is always going to be an uphill struggle. Similarly to reduce debt we have to change our association with compulsive spending and happiness.
Stick To Your Goals
The key to success is sticking to an inner discipline. We can always justify to ourselves over eating or over spending; but, unless we can stick to our plans and targets we will struggle to make any real difference. Start with achievable goals and continue to monitor your progress as you work to your target.
This is a general principle that 80% of our results can be gained from just 20% of our efforts. In reducing debt. If we can move our balance to a lower interest rate and then pay an extra amount of repayment, we will see a snowball effect generated. This refers to the small amount of extra repayment having a big cumulative effect.
In reducing weight we may find that reducing consumption of certain foods can make a big difference; we don’t need to stop eating, we just need to moderate our eating habits, e.g. cutting out certain fatty foods. Alternatively walking to work, rather than catching the bus may take only an extra 10 minutes, but this could have a big effect on burning up fat.
You Have to Do It
We can take advice from other people; we can read books written by experts; but, if we really wish to make changes in our lives it is we ourselves who have to make the change. To reduce our debt and to gain control of our weight, we need to take personal responsibility. If we have an attitude that things are beyond our control we will never be able to achieve our goals. With either dieting or reducing debt, we have to feel that it is through our own choices that we will either solve the problem or make it worse.
Tejvan Pettinger teaches Economics at a sixth form college in Oxford. He enjoy writing on topics of economics, personal finance and self development. Recent articles include >how to transcend your limitations at Sri Chinmoy Inspiration.