Setting goals for yourself can be a healthy and proactive way to fulfill your dreams. However, many of us often have trouble staying on track when it comes to completing even the simplest achievements. For many, the main issue that causes us to become distracted from being triumphant is one or more negative habits.

No matter how in control of your life you may feel, everyone has a bad habit that they would like to break. There are times when it may seem like an impossible task, and some individuals feel so reliant on their ways they have the mindset that nothing could help them permanently put away their bad habits.

How to Overcome the Negative Habits Holding You Back from Achieving Your Goals

The truth is that there is no habit out there that is impossible to break. While there are some that may be extremely difficult, it is possible to break any habit. The first step you should take toward achieving your goals is to admit that you have a problem.

To fight a habit, you first must recognize that it is there. When you are aware that you have a negative habit keeping you from achieving your goals, you gain a better understanding of the challenge that lies ahead. You can also see the impact that this habit has on your life. A habit doesn’t always have to be threatening to your health, such as smoking or drinking too much alcohol. For a habit to be negative, it merely must be something that puts a strain on you reaching your goals.

For example, you may have returned to school to earn your degree and improve your chances of finding a better job. But it seems as if you never have time to study as much as you would like. In reality, you have plenty of time to study if you step back and look at your typical daily schedule. Could you eliminate some time watching TV? Or would it be possible to wake up an hour or two earlier each morning to study? By looking at your daily activities, you will find that you do have time to focus on your studies if you choose to eliminate a few negative habits such as sleeping in or binge-watching TV.

Do Research on How Negative Habits Form

To conquer an enemy, an army must learn about their opponent’s fighting tactics. By learning how an opposing team strategizes, a basketball coach can teach his or her team specific plays that will help them win the game. We can use the same strategy with negative habits that stand in the way of us achieving our goals by learning more about how habits form. This knowledge can help us eliminate the power our habits have over us.

All habits have three main components, which are the trigger, the behavior, and the reward.

A trigger is something that reminds us of our habit. If you are a smoker trying to quit and see a family member or co-worker enjoying a cigarette, that would cause you to want to smoke as well. Triggers are often things that we see that make us crave our habits. However, they can involve other senses depending on what the habit may be.

Our behavior is another component to a habit that many people confuse with being the habit itself, such as eating too much or procrastinating. However, our negative behavior is simply the way that we respond to a trigger. If you have a problem with overeating, you may feel anxious, angry, or irritated during Thanksgiving dinner with your family, for example.

The reward is more than the physical feeling we may feel when partaking in our bad habits, it is also an emotional sensation. When we take part in a bad habit, such as enjoying chocolate while on a diet or indulging in an alcoholic drink when trying to quit, dopamine releases into the brain. This chemical can improve your mood and allow you to feel calm or relaxed.

The reward is one of the primary reasons why it is so difficult to quit a negative habit. If something helps to eliminate stress and makes you feel good, why would you want to stop? The hold that our unhealthy habits have on us is the reward because we get a taste of it as soon as we notice the trigger. Our brains start to release dopamine every time we face the potential reward, regardless of whether we take part in it. Therefore, to conquer your habits and begin achieving your goals, you need to focus on what you want to change.

Do Research on How Negative Habits Form

Once you have admitted your problem and understand why it is such a challenge to overcome, it is time to focus on what areas you want to change and take the steps toward achieving your goals.

To do this, try to find out what you can replace your negative habits with so that you can still receive the same reward. Many people tend to turn to smoking or drinking when they are feeling stressed. But are there other things that you can do that also help you relieve those anxious feelings? You may enjoy listening to music, taking a drive, or going for a walk instead. Replacing one of your negative habits with something that is positive can often help you both mentally and physically.

Any time you attempt to break a bad habit, your mind will focus on how much you crave the reward. This is what makes negative habits seem like they are impossible to break. But that is only because you haven’t found another way to receive that same reward. Breaking negative habits can provide you with a feeling of accomplishment, even if it is something as simple as setting aside your smartphone each night at dinner to have a conversation with your family.

One final tip.

keeping track of your progress can help you learn more about your habits so that you can break them faster. Write in a journal daily to help you find out what you truly want to achieve so that you can move forward with your life.

When you feel like your life is stagnant, it is time to evaluate those negative habits. Remember that to do this, you must first realize that there is something standing in your way. Then you should learn more about why your habits have such a strong hold on your life and find innovative ways to receive the same reward in a positive manner. Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Los is the CEO of Hype media, a publishing company focused on helping fitness influencers build brands.