Last night, I watched an incredibly depressing documentary about teenage jailbirds – young girls who go to jail countless times for offenses such as shoplifting, drug abuse, and counterfeiting credit card signatures. The program claimed that two-thirds of offenders return to jail, again and again. Part of me felt angry and helpless as they filmed the girls over a period of time, in jail, out of jail, trying - inconsistently - to get their lives straight without support from their broken homes, peer group or professionals.

I wanted to step into the TV screen and have a direct conversation with the girlsWhen they are not behind bars, they often roam the streets, not knowing where they will spend the night, thrown out of hostels for not sticking to the rules, and missing probation appointments because they are too drunk to care. The two girls interviewed were lively, with a sense of humor and a glint in their eyes, but had no idea as to how to build their lives positively What was most striking were the flickering moments of wanting to lead a straight life, but giving up after a few failed job interviews, or giving into "just one drink," or hanging around friends they knew were bad influences.

Part of me wanted to step into the TV screen and have a direct conversation with the girls. I wanted to help them connect to their inner desire to live healthy lives, and then build slowly and steadily the skills they need to live honestly. It would require conquering the "giving in" syndrome.

On a small scale, we are all petty criminals, resolving to change a habit in a moment of strength, and giving in at the moment of challenge. I look at myself and this week's resolve to refrain from eating white flour and refined sugar because I know they're not good for me. But how many times this week – when faced with a fresh muffin, chocolate, or desserts – did I cave into to the temptation, the social pressure, or the old, familiar "just one" or "just this time" mantra, not finding the willpower to resist. At those moments, what helps us stick to our decision and do what we earnestly desire?

I want to offer you, and remind myself, of some very practical tools that can help us in moments of weakness.

1. Make a firm commitment.

Write out your commitment in prominent places all over the house. Slip a note in your pocket, and put a reminder on your cell-phone. Write it in the present, in the affirmative, with as many emotive, descriptive adjectives as possible. Be as specific as possible. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, write how much weight you want to lose and a target date. Be realistic, i.e., "By October 10th, I will weigh 132 pounds. In order to achieve this, I stick to my daily food plan and exercise for forty minutes, either gym or by walking four times a week from 7-8am on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday nights. I eat healthy, nutritious food to give me energy. I go to bed every night by 10pm to give me strength for the next day."

Remind yourself of your goal, why you took it on, and what you will achieve2. Take on something small that you can stick to.

Our gremlin, self-defeating voice loves when we set ourselves up for failure and encourages us to despair. Recently, I heard someone say, "Resolve to take something on, then halve it, and halve it again." Good advice.

3. Renew your commitment daily, and hourly.

Tell yourself aloud, every day afresh, and even every hour on the hour of your commitment (maybe set a reminder on your cell-phone), i.e. "Today/for the next hour, I am eating only healthy, nutritious food."

4. Ask for help.

We all know how strong temptation is. We cannot fight it alone. When we feel that we're going to give into temptation, this is our alert sign to ask for assistance. We can go straight to the Source, and ask G‑d to help us overcome our impulses. And we can also set up a buddy system to call a good friend in a moment of weakness, someone who will remind us of our goal and keep us faithful to our commitments.

5. Be fully aware and cognizant of the benefits of overcoming.

Remind yourself of your goal, why you took it on, and what you will achieve by overcoming the momentary weakness. The longer you can resist, the stronger you become. If you succeed for three full days, you will begin to feel the benefits of this new habit each day. Just keep going.

6. Reward yourself at regular intervals.

Every day that you overcome your negative tendency, reward yourself. It can be by treating yourself to date with a girlfriend, a luxurious bubble bath, a little treat. When you have succeeded for a whole week, give yourself a mega-reward, such as buying yourself a new plant, a bunch of flowers, a cheap pair of earrings. Plan something special for when you achieve your goal.

We, too, can decide to start again nowIt is said that it takes forty days of conscious work to change an ingrained habit, and make the new habit second-nature. So we need to constantly work day-after-day. Instead of being intimidated by the long road ahead, I renew my habit daily, telling myself, "Just today, you are going to exercise for forty minutes." And then I repeat the message the next day. It is a way to trick the self-sabotaging voice that says "you'll never keep this up for forty days." And it works.

To change a habit is as difficult as the parting of the Red Sea when the Jews fled Egypt. It takes tremendous willpower, and a constructive plan of action. The real goal of the evil inclination is to cause us to not believe in ourselves, to give up hope of ever succeeding. G‑d recreates our world every moment, so we, too, can decide to start again now. This is the beauty of the concept of teshuvah repentance. What happened yesterday doesn't matter, only what you do about it today. Just believe that you can do it. Set yourself up for success. Ask G‑d to help you and celebrate each victory. Keep going, one day at a time. Before you know it, you will have acquired a new, healthy habit.