Willpower makes big demands on your brain's energy, so let's make it easy.

Let's take the will I/won't I decisions away, or at least make them less necessary.

Develop your strategies

Aim to eliminate the agonising will I?/won't I? thinking. Your strategies should to make the new habit something you do on autopilot.

1.Link the new habit (the one you want) with an inevitable or regular event. 

My rule is that I must take my daily medication the moment I first think of coffee - which is always the moment I enter the kitchen in the morning. (That's linking the new habit to a regular event.) I switch on my CD-based French lessons the moment I sit in the driver's seat to drive to or from the office. (That's linking the new habit to an inevitable event.)

2. Make 'Not today' and forgetting difficult

Need to jog each morning? Lay out your running clothes at night. Make them unmissable - preferably in the way. Decide that you haven't earned a shower till you've done the run.

Want to cut out unhealthy snacks between meals? Have a low-calorie alternative standing by and even more accessible than the cheesecake.

Want to start your days earlier? Put the alarm clock on the other side of the room.

Tell your friends about your new habits

Researchers report that women should tell their friends about their new habits, resolutions and goals. (It's not so effective for men.)

There's something else.

Beware of the 'what-the-hell-effect' 

(That's the official name.) It's when we say, 'The diet's gone now, so I might as well accept that I'm not the kind of person who has much willpower' - and pig out.

It's far more effective to see setbacks as normal and just re-boot. Forgive yourself and refocus with renewed determination. Very few smokers give up without several attempts. Very few people keep to new year resolutions without multiple lapses. It's building habits over time that matters. We get there in the end.