Positive thinking is the key determinant of whether we succeed or fail. No matter how intelligent or able a person may be, they have little chance of achieving their goals if they do not believe in themselves.

There is often no link between ability and positive thinking. We have all met an arrogant hotshot who believes she’s the bee’s knees despite little obvious talent. Similarly, a gifted shrinking violet will never achieve her full potential because she holds herself back with negative self talk.

How positively we view ourselves and our lives is influenced by four factors; our daily activities, our friendships/relationships, our mental health and, crucially, our physical health. There is nothing more important than maintaining our physical health. Everything depends upon it. Regular exercise won’t just make you look better, it’ll increase your energy and confidence and transform how you feel about yourself and the world around you. The NHS recommends a minimum of 2.5 hours aerobic exercise per week, plus two strength sessions which work the major muscle groups. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of people reach these targets.

Following a good diet is also key to improving our health. Yet refined processed carbohydrates and sugary drinks dominate many people’s diets. Cooking from scratch, increasing our intake of protein and eating a wider variety of vegetables are the first steps to improving our nutrition and health.

Lack of time is often a reason why people fail to exercise or eat well. However, we could all manage our time better. Many people say they have no time to exercise, but still find an hour a day for Facebook or two hours of television. Your daily activities have a huge bearing on your ability to think positively. Therefore, it’s crucial you spend as much time as possible doing things you find fun, fulfilling and rewarding. That includes exercise.

Many of my clients are mothers who say they are run ragged looking after their children. However, regular exercise will increase your ability to deal with everyday challenges, as well as improve your long-term health. This can only benefit your kids.

Stress is another enemy of a healthy lifestyle. Instead of getting active, which is a great stress reliever, many people choose to self medicate with unhealthy food, alcohol or tobacco. However, the feel-good effects of these things are short-lived. Nothing will make you feel worse in the long term than poor health and an unattractive body. A few drinks may temporarily pep you up, but a longer lasting confidence boost will come from regular exercise and getting in shape.

So how do you set about improving your health and living more positively? You must set goals and act upon them. These goals should be staggered over different periods of time. Think of one or two simple goals which could be achieved within 24 hours. For example, doing a healthy supermarket shop, going for a long walk or cooking a nutritious family dinner. The other goals should cover the medium to longer term i.e. three months or longer. Don’t just think about what you want, but how you are going to get there. It’s not enough to say ‘I want to lose weight.’ Instead, say you will record your daily calorie intake on My Fitness Pal, increase your intake of protein and vegetables and do three weekly workouts.

Working towards these goals will feel difficult and unnatural at first, but that is a good thing. It means you are pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone to a new way of being. Whenever you attain a goal, no matter how small, congratulate yourself that you care enough about yourself and your loved ones to improve your health and mental attitude. Minor changes can yield positive results in just a few days, while determined and consistent effort is life changing. So don’t just think about the things that would make your life better, switch off your computer or mobile phone and start today.