Habits are a regular part of life. Everyone has at least a few, and everyone suffers from bad ones. Luckily, said bad habits don’t have to be a staple of your behavior. There are ways to adjust your actions and thought processes. These methods are calculated and likely to produce results. It may be hard, but the outcome is usually worth the struggle. So, here are five ways to change your undesirable habits.

1. Work Gradually

Remember Aesop’s fable The Tortoise and the Hare? Its lesson of slow and steady winning the race is important to remember while changing habits. You can’t make any improvements if you force them immediately. This is particularly relevant if you’re trying to change an unconscious behavior. For instance, if you’re learning how to stop drooling while sleeping, chances are slim that you’ll be able to make a full improvement right away. Instead, try creating a schedule over a determined period of time. You’ll achieve your changes in increments. This may seem tedious, but it will likely result in a more permanent fixture.

2. Define the Trigger

It’s difficult to alter anything without knowing its cause. If you want to improve your habits, you need to know what makes you carry out bad ones. This trigger is the source of your issue, and therefore it’s what needs to be focused on. A classic example of this is stress-eating. The trigger is the stress you experience, which then causes you to soothe it through food. Once you determine this, your next step is to prescribe a healthier reaction to stress. Focusing on the stress is generally more effective than simply trying to stop eating unhealthily. Your habit’s trigger may be harder to identify than this example, but even a subconscious one can be discovered if you search intensively.

3. Set Goals

You may think that the basic goal of breaking your habit is clear enough. However, this goal is fairly vague and is only one point in your journey. If you use this method, you’ll probably be groping blindly for the end result. You can streamline the process by setting multiple goals. This has the potential to give you more incentive. Having the ability to achieve a nearby accomplishment is more exciting than the alternative. You can add to the incentive by prescribing rewards to each goal. If you want to reach a certain checkpoint due to the prize you’ll receive, you have a higher potential to race through the process.

4. Be Consistent

Changing your habits requires the same work ethic as exercise. Working out once a week is not going to give you a toned body. Similarly, implementing behavioral changes every so often isn’t likely to make lasting results. You need to be consistent during the entire process. In fact, the concept of “cheating” should be wiped from your vocabulary. Any instance where you deviate from your rules is bound to regress your progress. Stay strong and work regularly.

5. Reexamine Needs 

One of the main causes of bad habits is a belief that the action needs to be done. In most cases, this simply isn’t true. It’s your brain forcing incorrect beliefs on you. In order to combat this, go back to the basics. Consider why you feel that the habit is so important. It may be due to a childhood perspective that no longer applies to your adult life. By changing these beliefs, you’re adapting your thought process and lessening the need to badly behave.

Habits are somewhat like addictions. The behaviors are easy to get and extraordinarily difficult to lose, especially if one has been present since childhood. But you don’t have to drown in this sea of bad behavior. If you stay strong and make planned, consistent changes, you have a high chance of beating the odds and changing your habits. Keep these methods in mind and believe in yourself throughout your journey.