9 Habits for a Better Business and a Better Life (That Don't Just Include Waking up Early)


If an article about healthy habits starts off with, “You have to wake up early to be successful,” I’ll instantly close it and move on.

There’s a whole laundry list of habits we’ve been told are the lifeblood of successful people like waking up at 5 am and running for an hour a day. But the fact of the matter is, some people work better at night, and some people would prefer just going for a walk with their dog.

Habits are a big deal…because about 40% to 45% of what we do every day sort of feels like a decision, but it’s actually habit. – Charles Duhigg

I’m light years away from perfect. Just look at what one of my teammates put on my desk. But, after feeling frustrated from reading some of those “best habits” lists floating around on the internet, I wanted to pull together a list that I know works for me and that I think can work for real people…in real life…every day.

Here we go.

Stop comparing yourself to others.

Nothing quite throws a wrench into progress like getting in the habit of comparing yourself to others.

Success isn’t just for one type of person. There are no “chosen ones.” Success is for everybody. Maybe that’s why some of those “best habits lists” that say you have to be an early morning riser or an avid runner fail so hard — they associate success with a specific type of person.

When someone else succeeds, it doesn’t limit your ability to do so. This is a great quote if you find yourself in the habit of looking over at your competition:

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.” – Zen Shin

Champion those around you and create a better environment to “bloom” easily in.


Take a few steps back to solve a problem.

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs

I don’t know if there is a worse habit than to let the same problem happen over and over again just because “that’s the way it’s always been.” If something causes you or your team frustration, it’s a bad habit to go through the motions and rush on to the next task.

Jobs talks about making “your thinking clean.” The best problem solvers don’t jump to the obvious solution; they take a few steps back and use a more simple thought process.

It’s kind of like the “six glasses riddle.”


There are six glasses are in a row. Three are full of liquid and three are empty. They are in the following order: full, full, full, empty, empty, empty. Moving only one glass, arrange the glasses so they are alternate between full and empty.

Here’s the answer.

So, going back to you, are you moving around a bunch of glasses to solve a problem? Or are you utilizing one solid, simple solution?

Make a habit out of asking how something could be better and take the time to not only solve the problem but solve it in the best possible way.

Don’t forget your “why.”

We’re all guilty of getting caught up in the day-to-day hustle. But don’t ignore your “why.” In case you’re not one of the 30 million people that have heard Simon Sinek explain how discovering your purpose, or your “why,” is so crucial to your success, you can watch that here.

Make a habit of asking yourself, “Who is <insert business name> and why do we do what we do?”

You can’t rely on getting your name in someone’s inbox or quickly meeting them to be enough to stick in their memory. Get in the habit of equating your brand with an experience — an experience that can easily be defined by your “why.” Through the power of that purpose, you can elevate your brand to something that’s seen, heard, and felt every day inside your business and surrounding it.


Set aside time to be creative.

When do you have your best ideas? Following your afternoon coffee? Right before bed or during the weekends? Find that time your brain is relaxed enough for a dedicated “creative time.”

Carve out a few minutes to bookmark some TED Talks, add a few documentaries to your Netflix watch list, sign up for a webinar, or RSVP to a workshop or event. Build up an arsenal of material you can revisit during your designated creative time.

Sometimes it’s just comforting to think, “Those people had ideas and made them happen, so can I.” Even if your creative time doesn’t immediately yield your best next idea, making a habit of unwinding with something beneficial for your mind will keep your creative spirit intact.


Are you asking questions?

Somewhere along the way, we got the impression that asking a question was a sign of ignorance. So many great ideas can get lost in translation or just never come to fruition all because we weren’t confident enough to ask all the questions we had.

If you chat with a client, come armed with questions and be at least two steps ahead. It’s hard to imagine anyone could see that as a sign of weakness – they’ll value your preparedness and proactive approach. The more you can make a habit of this in any conversation you have, the more natural it will become to you.


Try not to put so much pressure on yourself.

A black hole forms because a massive star collapses in on itself. Think about that for a second. One of the most phenomenal, fascinating occurrences in the universe happens all because of too much pressure. But, um, it’s not so cool when it happens to you.

Perfectionism has a lot of benefits, but if you get in the habit of letting it take control, you will implode and enter the black hole stage.

My mom gave me a pretty solid piece of advice that, to be honest, doesn’t look that compelling in black and white: “It’s going to go how it’s going to go.”

That little bit of advice made me feel like my preparation was enough and I learned I couldn’t control the outcome of a lot of situations.

You don’t have to listen to my mom, but just know it’s not worth going straight supernova on somebody with all the pressure you’re putting on yourself.

Be observant of trends.

We work in an industry that is impacted by ever-changing trends. Web design, graphic design, email marketing, content marketing… there’s a lot to keep up with. But, we are all consumers and it pays to get in the habit of being observant. You don’t have to have a background in all of the above to know when a great prospecting email converted you into a customer, or when a website design grabbed your attention.

By making a habit of paying attention to the trends in design, you can keep your branding fresh, engaging, and relevant and better serve your clients on their projects as well! Save those bits of inspiration for when you need them. For you, it could be a folder on your desktop, an inspiration board in your office, or a shared Pinterest group or Slack channel with your team. Print/clip/store your favorite inspo’ in a hat box on your desk. It doesn’t matter. Just stay observant.

No negativity allowed.

A few years ago, I was in a rut creatively. I felt like I was under a nasty cloud of negativity–a cloud I created! I tried to focus on the positive like some articles I had read said, but it wasn’t working until I got my best friend involved (turns out we were both camped out under some clouds). We started #50DaysofGood. For 50 days, we’d find at least one positive thing that happened to us each day and post it on our social media accounts. It’s not just a myth that you attract what you project. The “fifty days experiment” was:

a. long enough for me to get in the habit of seeking out good moments every day.
b. through an outlet that was quick and easy for me to use.
c. something I could look back on if I started feeling like a negative Nancy.

There are so many ways you and your team can cultivate positive vibes. You can try sending out an internal email with positive comments or reviews from customers, or you could try putting up a whiteboard where all your employees can add their own comments. You can even start your own social media campaign or snag our hashtag! We’re all about sharing the good vibes. 🙂


Don’t let the boredom sink in.

Habits can be powerful. They give our lives and businesses the direction we need. But we’re humans after all, and we crave excitement and engagement!

So, don’t forget to work in some team-building activities and some spontaneous fun here and there.

Here are 14 ways to inspire your team (we particularly love #9 and #10 at the SAGE office).


I hope this was a tiny bit helpful. Just know you don’t have to let bad habits stand in the way of your success.




Harvard Business Review: Habits: Why We Do What We Do
Good Reads: Quote by Zen Shin
Good Reads: Quote by Steve Jobs
Puzzle Villa: Six Glasses Brain Teaser
TED Talks: Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Great Action

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