Sticking to a new routine has always eluded me. My nemesis is ‘little and often’


My yoga app pinged. “Hey!” it said, in a sunny, Californian grating voice: “We miss you. Remember, to get results, practise little and often.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I growled, nestling deeper into the sofa.

Start slow. Take it step by step. Be consistent. These rules of thumb to making lasting change are easily repeated. They sound effortless, and minimal; a whole new way of life served in a snack.

But sticking to a new routine has always eluded me. My nemesis is “little and often”. Whether it’s finding 20 minutes to exercise each day or 30 to tend to DIY, all are eventually replaced with work, rest or scrolling through Netflix, wondering which gruesome murder documentary to devote my life to next.

So when we started working from home, I seized the opportunity. I wrote an ideal schedule for the week, complete with meditation, moisturising and time for lengthy marinades. If I didn’t complete it, I would try again.

I’ve completed a week – just one! – on three separate occasions this past year. (In my defence, I did form one lasting routine around eating, where I talk about what’s for dinner for two hours a day.)

Why are simple changes some of the hardest? Is it a character trait – that if my approach to life is “feast or famine” (I do things a lot, then I don’t), no amount of organising can help – or is the simplicity a lie? When you add up all the pursuits that we are meant to do “little and often”, it quickly becomes “a lot, all of the time”.

But there is a skill I have mastered in all these attempts: to try, and keep trying, to be happy, even when that means throwing the wellness schedule out the window. It just might be the only thing that matters.