You know there’s a problem. You know you need to cut back – on smoking, on drinking, on take-aways, on pointless hobbies that are starting to impinge on the more important things in life. You know that it’s difficult, but you want more than anything to make that change.

But every time you start, it feels like the whole world is geared towards getting in your way. You’ll just wait until after the Christmas chocolates are gone to diet. You can’t not have a glass of champagne at New Year, so you’ll cut down on the drinking later on. And then you’re birthday is only six months away, so … you might as well wait until after that. In the meantime, why bother to take up yoga when you’ll lose your perfect calm in the traffic home from the studio? It’s impossible to avoid adverts for McDonald’s looking so damn tasty and, when it comes down to it, healthy stuff is so expensive. Not to mention the cost of a regular gym membership – and everyone says they’re a waste of money anyway. Who even goes often enough to justify paying that much?

You might as well just not. You might as well enjoy your few, short years on the planet doing whatever strikes you as fun at the time, no matter how frustrated you get on the inside. After all, consumerism is so ingrained into our society that it’s hardly worth fighting it. Any effort to avoid it will come unravelled once the new iPhone is out. That’s the way it works, right?

Well. No.

No one expects you to make all the changes you want immediately. No one expects to you become the shining picture of discipline and perfection overnight, if yesterday you didn’t get out of bed until well into the afternoon.

So, don’t. Take things slowly. Never, ever try to jump in at the deep end. That works exclusively for babies and fictional heroes. It doesn’t happen to you. Overnight successes take years of effort that no one gets to see or learn from. Especially to you.

Take baby steps with everything you do. If you want to be healthier, try starting off with smaller portions of what you’re already eating. Replace a pizza with a salad once a week until you feel more comfortable eating it all the time. To get rid of a sweet tooth, take less sugar in your tea or coffee until you stop craving it – black tea is much for your digestive system anyway, so it’s got benefits all around.

If you don’t feel ready to commit to little steps – after all, why bother with such a small difference? – there are plenty of things being developed to help you keep at it. Every mobile app store will have something designed to help you. There has been a huge craze recently for jogging apps that start you off running for ninety seconds and build up your stamina and ability until you’re going for hours at a time.

By utilising simple enough systems like these, you can implement any change that you want to make in your life. Whether you need to start doing something more often or less often, or just try to remind yourself that there’s something you can live without, once you’ve done it once it will work for every other thing you want to change.

Kirstie Summers,

Daily Zen.