Your success is a result of consistently performing a series of good habits…over and over again. When you allow a bad habit to take the place of a good habit, you are dramatically impeding your path to success. Bad habits kill our productivity and creativity. They slow us down and hold us back from achieving our goals.  Seems simple enough right? Wrong. Bad habits are stealth, creeping up on you slowly until you don’t even notice the damage they’re causing.

What does it take to break your bad habits? Self-control — and lots of it. Research shows that self-control has huge implications for success.

University of Pennsylvania psychologists Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligman conducted a study where they measured college students’ IQ scores and levels of self-control upon entering university. Four years later, they looked at the students’ grade point averages (GPA) and found that self-control was twice as important as IQ in earning a high GPA.

The self-control required to develop good habits (and stop bad ones) also serves as the foundation for a strong work ethic and high productivity. Self-control is just like a muscle — to build it up you need to exercise it. Practice flexing your self-control muscle by breaking the following bad habits:

1. Eating when you’re not hungry.

We’ve all done it, and sometimes we don’t even realize when it’s happening. Maybe you graze when you’re bored, or reach your hand into the office candy jar each time you pass by. Perhaps when you’re feeling sluggish in the afternoon, you head to the vending machine for a pick-me-up. All of these are opportunities to eat for reasons other than hunger.

Turning to food for whatever reason won’t resolve the underlying issue at hand. Try tracking your eating habits with the LooseIt or MyFitnessPal apps and note your emotional state when you in head for those mid-morning, afternoon or late-night snacks. Bored, stressed, tired, anxious…I bet you’ll be shocked at the results. Also, put your snack on a plate and sit down at the table to enjoy it, like you would for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. No more out-of-the-box.

2. Using your cell phone or tablet in bed.

Using your phone in bed has a negative effect on both the hours you are sleeping and the quality of sleep you’re getting. A study published by Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, M.D., Ph.D., revealed how the artificial blue light emitted from electronic devices like cell phones, smartphones and tablets activates arousing neurons within the brain, preventing us from feeling sleepy.

This blue light plays an important role in your mood, energy level and sleep quality. In the morning, sunlight contains high concentrations of this blue light. When your eyes are exposed to it directly, the blue light halts production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and makes you feel more alert. In the afternoon, the sun’s rays lose their blue light, which allows your body to produce melatonin and start making you sleepy. By the evening, your brain isn’t prepared for any blue light exposure and is very sensitive to it.

The best thing you can do is to avoid these devices after dinner. Try engaging in conversation instead…shocking, I know.

3. Impulsively surfing the internet.

I frequently check my phone without any real need. I find myself using my phone while walking to the office, in the middle of lunch with coworkers, or while I’m waiting for a barista to make my coffee — but why?

If you’re always on your phone, you’re not engaged with the outside world and you’re certainly not present, living in the moment. Numerous studies show that an increase in phone usage leads to a decrease in happiness. The internet, especially social media, often sets unrealistic expectations of what our lives should be like.

Should you give up social media and internet surfing completely? Absolutely not! Try to set certain times of the day or week that are appropriate for a few minutes of browsing the web. Want to get caught up on the news every morning? Try listening to a podcast on the way to work instead of browsing the web. Your chances of getting distracted a much less.

4. Complaining

Science has found that complaining to other makes us feel bad AND it’s also catching, making those listening feel worse. Even more troublesome, constantly complaining can harm your physical and mental health by making you more stressed out. In fact, complaining can literally kill you.

Griping comes naturally for us. During an average conversation, we lob complaints at each other about once a minute, according to research. There’s a social reason for that. “Nothing unites people more strongly than a common dislike,” says Trevor Blake, author of Three Simple Steps. “The easiest way to build friendship and communicate is through something negative.”

Learning how to not complain doesn’t come easy. But it is possible. Start by tracking how often you complain and what you’re complaining about over the course of a morning. You’ll be shocked that after two or three hours it’s normally in the hundreds. Separate yourself from chronic complainers and try the “but-positive” and “get-to” techniques. For example, “I don’t like driving to work, but I’m thankful at least I can drive and I even have a job.” and “I have to pick up the kids” becomes “I get to pick up the kids.”

5. Making excuses

Building self discipline is all about putting an end to excuses and taking responsibility for your behavior and your life. Don’t get me wrong. There are times in our lives that prevent us from reaching deadlines or completing goals. Instead of explaining why we failed, you have to own up to it. Remember, excuses aren’t going to help us become more productive or successful. They’re just a crutch that we use to explain our shortcomings.

Begin by setting realistic and attainable goals so that you’re not setting yourself up for failure. Then, establish your priorities and remember that life is a training ground.

When you start to regard life as a training ground, setbacks are painted in a new light.  Rather than berate yourself for mistakes you realize that failure to achieve your goal provides an amazing opportunity to learn from your mistakes.

Most important, when you mess up, hold yourself accountable and take responsibility for your actions. You’ll be surprised at how liberating it feels.

6. Checking your phone during a conversation.

Nothing turns people off like a mid-conversation text message or even a quick glance at your phone. When you commit to a conversation, focus all your energy on the conversation. You will find that conversations are more enjoyable and effective when you immerse yourself in them.

7. Being unorganized

You may think having a cluttered desk isn’t that big of a deal. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Disorganization can stunt your professional growth and decrease your productivity. It wastes your valuable time, and can make you feel more anxious and stressed.

To become more organized, start by writing down important reminders and making schedules. Also give everything a home so that you can place things in their rightful location. Make sure you declutter regularly, such as every Friday before you go home for the weekend.

8. Using multiple notifications.

Multiple notifications are a productivity nightmare. Studies have shown that hopping on your phone and e-mail every time they ping for your attention causes your productivity to plummet. Getting notified every time a message drops onto your phone or an e-mail arrives in your inbox might feel productive, but it isn’t. Instead of working at the whim of your notifications, pool all your e-mails/texts and check them at designated times (e.g., respond to your e-mails every hour). This is a proven, productive way to work.

9. Saying “yes” when you should say “no.”

Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout and even depression, all of which erode self-control. Saying no is indeed a major self-control challenge for many people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield.

When it’s time to say no, emotionally intelligent people avoid phrases like “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.”

Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them. Just remind yourself that saying no is an act of self-control now that will increase your future self-control by preventing the negative effects of over commitment.

10. Thinking about toxic people.

There are always going to be toxic people who have a way of getting under your skin and staying there. Each time you find yourself thinking about a coworker or person who makes your blood boil, practice being grateful for someone else in your life instead. There are plenty of people out there who deserve your attention, and the last thing you want to do is think about the people who don’t matter when there are people who do.

11. Multitasking during meetings.

You should never give anything half of your attention, especially meetings. If a meeting isn’t worth your full attention, then you shouldn’t be attending it in the first place; and if the meeting is worth your full attention, then you need to get everything you can out of it. Multitasking during meetings hurts you by creating the impression that you believe you are more important than everyone else.

12. Not having a savings goal or plan

Whether you are saving for retirement or creating an emergency fund, having money set aside and collecting interest can reduce stress since you don’t have to worry about the future or any “what-if” scenarios. Knowing that you have money to fall back on just in case is a real lifesaver.

Automate your savings. For example, take a certain percentage of your paycheck and automatically deposit it into a savings account. This ensures that you’re constantly saving money.

13. Smoking cigarettes

Smoking can result in cancer, long-term respiratory diseases, and heart disease. It’s also expensive and just plain nasty. I honestly don’t know anyone who enjoys the stench of stale cigarette smoke.

Quitting smoking is hard. Because it’s so addictive, you may have to seek counseling or a behavioral therapist. However, there are nicotine replacements and medicine that can also help you.

14. Gossiping.

Gossipers derive pleasure from other people’s misfortunes. It might be fun to peer into somebody else’s personal or professional faux pas at first, but over time, it gets tiring, makes you feel gross and hurts other people. There are too many positives out there and too much to learn from interesting people to waste your time talking about the misfortune of others.

15. Waiting to act until you know you’ll succeed.

Most writers spend countless hours brainstorming their characters and plots, and they even write page after page that they know they’ll never include in the books. They do this because they know that ideas need time to develop. We tend to freeze up when it’s time to get started because we know that our ideas aren’t perfect and that what we produce might not be any good. But how can you ever produce something great if you don’t get started and give your ideas time to evolve? Author Jodi Picoult summarized the importance of avoiding perfectionism perfectly: “You can edit a bad page, but you can’t edit a blank page.”

Related: 8 Small Things You Can Do Everyday To Become Highly Successful

16. Comparing yourself to other people.

When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from comparing yourself to others, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When you feel good about something that you’ve done, don’t allow anyone’s opinions or accomplishments take that away from you. While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to compare yourself to others and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain — you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.

17. Putting yourself into debt

Stressing out over your finances can do some serious damage to your health. Money concerns can cause high blood pressure, ulcers, digestive problems, headaches, depression, and muscle tension or lower-back pain.

Take control of your finances by creating and sticking to a budget. This will help you understand how you’re spending your money each month so you can plan accordingly. For example, if you’re spending more than you earn, it’s time to start trimming the fat.

Bringing It All Together

By practicing self-control to break these bad habits, you can simultaneously strengthen your self-control muscle and abolish nasty habits that have the power to bring your career to a grinding halt.