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28 Habits for Building a Successful Life in Business If you are committed to happiness and success, work these habits into your daily routine. Soon, you'll be making progress on autopilot.

By R.L. Adams Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Any successful business owner will tell you that habits are the foundation of success. The right routines can propel you forward in your career and life — but the wrong ones can hold you back. The more healthy habits you build into your daily routine, the more tools you'll have on the path to achieving your goals.

Below, you'll find 28 of the best – and some of the worst – habits for success in business and life. But first, consider how new habits are formed.

How to Establish New Habits and Maintain Discipline

Breaking your usual routines — and building the healthy habits to replace them — requires commitment. Just like success doesn't happen overnight, the healthiest and most productive habits stem from relentless self-discipline (e.g. the athlete not skipping a workout, the violinist practicing through frustration).

No matter the obstacle – and there will be obstacles – the most successful people find ways to push through.

It's not easy, though. Studies have shown that old habits are hard to break. You may rationalize unhealthy behaviors and convince yourself that change is simply too difficult. But you can change.

While deciding to establish new habits is a great start, it's just a first step. So how do you successfully build new habits?

Related: Exploring the Ten Habits of Being a Successful Entrepreneur

Make the Commitment

If you want to achieve your goals, commit to being disciplined.. Discipline isn't something you have; it's something you cultivate. It comes down to making definite decisions and then deciding to stick with them.

Stay Focused

Review your habit goals each morning before you start your day, or set and review your goals for the next day before you go to sleep. Make sure to pick a quiet environment where you can focus on what you want to achieve in the short and long term. This will help you prioritize the most important goals for the next day.

Do the Little Things

A great way to cultivate discipline is to focus on doing the little things – like making your bed before you leave the house or taking the garbage out. When you tackle small tasks, you'll eventually become more disciplined with bigger, more important things.

Follow Through

If you decide to exercise each morning before work, resist the inner voice telling you to skip the workout – no matter how much you want to. If you're going to take on an important project in the morning, don't second-guess your decision when you wake up. Follow-through is a muscle you can build, and it starts with deciding to make good on your commitments. The more consistent you are, the easier it will be.

Reward Yourself

When you accomplish tasks that require extra doses of discipline, reward yourself. Treat yourself to a nice dinner, go to a concert or share what you achieved with loved ones. There's power in taking a step back and acknowledging your own success. You can see your discipline paying off, and this will motivate you to stay committed.

Set Up Visual Cues

Visual clues can remind you to stay on track with your new habits. Grab some sticky notes and write down your goals or inspiring quotes, placing them around your workstation. You can also set up cues on your bathroom mirror or inside your car — anywhere you spend time each day.

Related: 10 Daily Habits of Highly Successful People

What Are the Best Habits for Business and Life?

Good habits are essential to building a successful enterprise; they can also make us happier, healthier and less stressed — all of which can help businesses thrive. Establish these 28 habits into your daily routine, and you'll be on your way to achieving the goals you set.

Helpful Habits for Business Leaders

1. Setting daily goals

Anyone serious about achieving success in business needs to set goals – but not just long-term business goals. Set small, achievable goals for your business every single day, ideally the night before or in the morning when your mind is fresh. Come up with a metric for success and ensure that you track it every single day. If you're in sales, for example, set a goal of 50 calls each day — and hold yourself accountable. These small goals act like markers or milestones on the way to the bigger and more aspirational goals.

2. Achieving inbox zero

Studies have shown that clutter results in a loss of focus. These days, that can manifest in virtual clutter: texts, emails, Slack messages and phone calls. Inboxes are filled with everything from spam and advertisements to vitally important items that require attention. Make it a habit to sort, organize and discard emails as soon they come in. Take advantage of automated features that email providers offer, and set up filters and rules to limit what lands in your inbox.

3. Tackling your biggest tasks in the morning

Mark Twain referred to this as "eating the frog," or tackling your biggest and most important tasks at the start of your day, when your mind is clearest. It could be preparing for a big pitch call or triple-checking important paperwork. By knocking out these to-dos first, you gain momentum for the rest of the day and alleviate the stress that comes from looming assignments. These primary tasks should be the items that move you closest to your long-term goals.

4. Networking by looking for who you can help

Your network is your most valuable asset, and the easiest way to build it is by being an asset to others. The best networkers look for ways to help others without receiving something in return. As you seek to expand your list of connections, look for people to whom you can be useful. You never know when they'll return the favor.

5. Studying (and imitating) the masters

As the saying goes, "great artists steal." Find someone who is already successful in your industry and try to learn from and emulate their process. Don't confuse this for copying or duplication. You need to be unique, but take notes on how others succeed. How are they approaching the market? Where are they advertising? How much value are they adding? Get in the habit of checking on competitors and companies you admire and seek out ideas you could translate to your own business.

6. Checking in with your staff about more than work

One rule for good management is to touch base with people about themselves, rather than just their jobs. When managers actively listen to their employees, it fosters both open communication and positive morale. Workers will also feel more comfortable approaching you with important issues or the next great idea.

7. Asking yourself every day: How am I adding value?

Too many people are in business solely for profit. But, if you're not adding value — with your product and services or day-to-day work — you're wasting time. Constantly search for ways you can add more value. How can your service make a client's life easier? Can you change a workflow to boost your team's efficiency? You may not see a financial boon in the short term, but those who add value will always find long-term success.

8. Consulting your budget religiously

People often overlook the necessity to save for the future because they're so busy living in the present. Take time each week to look for ways your business can save money. Are your office expenses running too high? Do you need all those subscriptions? Can you cut any inefficiencies in your workflow? When you don't sweat the small stuff, the small stuff sweats you. Come up with a budget for your business and make a habit of checking it constantly.

9. Asking questions

You should project confidence, but always acting like the smartest person in the room can be destructive in business. To truly succeed, you need to ask questions — lots of them. Speak with fellow business owners, employees and customers, and ask them about their work and life experiences. This will expose you to new perspectives and ways of thinking. Heed the advice given and learn from the firsthand knowledge of others.

10. Consulting with a mentor

In business, you need a mentor – someone who's achieved the success you're after. Consult with that person on a weekly basis, whether through text, email or a brief phone call. Tell them about your challenges and successes. A mentor can offer business insight, as well as strategies to balance work and life. We're often so busy that we fail to work on our businesses rather than in our businesses. A mentor will help you work on your business — and yourself.

11. Seeking inspiration

It's difficult to stay motivated for any considerable amount of time – especially when obstacles arise. One of the most effective ways to stay motivated is by inspiring yourself daily: read a biography, watch a TED Talk, listen to an interview with your favorite athlete. Your source of inspiration might have nothing to do with business, but it could still spark fresh ideas or help you see problems in a new light.

12. Continuously learning

To keep your business fresh, it's important to constantly learn and evolve. Identify skills you can learn and commit to improving a little bit each and every single day. You might decide to learn a new language or to take a web development course. Dedicating just 20 minutes a day to learning can help you stay sharp on the job.

13. Implementing the 15-minute rule when you catch yourself procrastinating

Success can only come if you take action, but most people don't take action — they procrastinate. Use the 15-minute rule to break the pattern. Set your timer on your phone to 15 minutes and do the one thing you've been putting off the longest. Why just 15 minutes? It's a short time span that doesn't seem daunting, but it's enough to get you started. You'll likely keep going after those 15 minutes, but if you don't, you at least broke the pattern of inaction.

Related: 5 Self-Care Habits of Every Successful Entrepreneur

14. Asking for help when you need it

No one is perfect or has all the answers. What separates the world's most successful entrepreneurs from others is their ability to set aside their own ego and ask for help. There's no shame in admitting you don't know something, and acting on ignorance is far worse than asking for assistance. This habit also builds trust with your staff and colleagues, as it shows that you're open to input and feedback.

Healthy Habits to Support a Successful Life

Some of the best habits you can form have nothing to do with business at all – at least not directly. But, the more people thrive in their personal lives, the more confidence and positive energy they bring to their professional lives. The following habits will guide you toward a healthy, fulfilling life.

15. Being generous with your time and money

People can often neglect others in their quest for success. When you make a habit of generosity, you can keep your personal concerns in perspective while being more connected to your local community. In fact, serving others is linked to increased self-confidence, happiness and well-being.

16. Moving your body every day

Daily exercise is the key to longevity and one of the healthiest habits you can build. This isn't about heavy weightlifting or running a marathon; Rather, it's about daily activity to increase your heart rate, build your physical strength and get a boost of mood-enhancing endorphins. Setting a daily goal of 10,000 steps is a good place to start. Not only will you feel better physically, but you'll also see an enhancement in mental clarity and self-motivation.

17. Creating a morning routine

Mornings are a time for focus and clarity – so making a routine of waking up early and building a consistent ritual will help you start your day right. This could involve exercise, meditation and prayer, journaling, a hot breakfast or visualization practices. One way to start waking up earlier: Every week, set your alarm back 15 minutes so you slowly move toward your waking goal. This is far more effective than trying to wake up two hours earlier with no ramp-up. Once you're out of bed, establish a routine that engages your body and mind in a way that makes sense for you.

18. Prioritizing sleep

Ample rest is imperative, but for many it's elusive — especially if you have kids, a demanding job and other obligations. If you care about your physical well-being and future success, strive for six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Be sure not to drink coffee or alcohol too close to your bedtime. Smoking and excess sugar can also make it hard to fall asleep at a decent hour. Cut those out of your routine so you can get a good night's rest.

19. Keeping things tidy

When our lives are disorganized and in a state of disarray, it's hard to stay focused on our goals – just ask the researchers behind a 2011 study in the Journal of Neuroscience which found that clutter leads to a major loss of focus. Take the time to organize your home and office, whether it be a single drawer or an entire cabinet. Enforce this habit every day and you'll wind up with a clean home and clear mind.

Related: The 5 Bad Habits of High-Achieving Entrepreneurs

20. Confronting your fears

Fear can prevent you from enjoying the present moment. To combat it, do one thing each day that makes you feel uncomfortable – whether it's talking to a stranger or giving someone a compliment. You could also try a new hobby or activity.. Step out of your comfort zone to confront those fears. As you get more comfortable being uncomfortable, once-overwhelming tasks won't seem so intimidating.

21. Looking for positive people

Happiness is contagious, and surrounding yourself with happy people builds confidence, stimulates creativity and supports a cycle of positivity. Science backs this up: A 2008 study found that an individual's happiness depends on "the happiness of others with whom they are connected." Plus, it's flat-out fun. Make a habit of spending time with positive influences, both at work and in your personal life.

22. Doing something you love every day

Do you love to paint, walk along the beach or ride a bike? Ask yourself when was the last time you did those things and what's stopping you from doing them now. We can be so consumed by our goals that we forget to focus on ourselves. Stary with doing one thing each day that you truly love, or even find a way to incorporate it into your work. Not only is it a short-term mood booster, but it will give you something to look forward to every day.

23. Reflecting

Take time to reflect on what you've achieved or accomplished. You could do this on a weekend retreat, a walk with a friend, a solo drive or a slow day at the office. Mentally step away and ask yourself: What lessons have I learned? What challenges have I overcome? What's different today than it was five years ago, and how did I get here? These reflections can help you appreciate how your business has evolved, while providing insights on where you'd like to see it go.

24. Meditating

Human brains are non-stop humming machines: always moving, worrying and focusing on the next task. Give your brain a pause by meditating. Seek out guided sessions on YouTube or apps like Headspace, and give yourself at least five minutes each day to sit quietly with your mind. You'll be shocked by how just a few minutes of meditation can ease anxieties and hone your focus on what really matters.

25. Reading

Find time to read something – whether it's the newspaper, financial news, a novel or a non-fiction book. Reading can help you uncover new worlds, philosophies and ideas. Bring reading materials wherever you go; that way, the next time you're looking to kill five minutes, you can pull out that book instead of your phone.

Weird Habits That Can Actually Be Good for You

Sometimes what we consider our worst habits can actually be our strengths. Whether it's pressure from society or parents, people are constantly told and even trained not to do certain things. The truth is, some of our so-called vices can actually add value to people's lives.

Before you try and squash all your "bad" habits, find out if they may have a hidden benefit. Just remember: everything in moderation.

26. Swearing

Whatever your beliefs are on profanity, it turns out a well-timed cuss can actually benefit you. Psychologists have argued that swearing holds a number of valuable functions. For starters, it can be a great stress-reliever, and studies have shown that people who cursed while enduring something painful had a higher pain tolerance than those who didn't curse. Of course, knowing when it's appropriate to swear is vital. Stubbed your toe at home? Go for it. Frustrated with a superior at work? Watch your mouth.

27. Fidgeting

From twirling hair to tapping toes, many have trouble staying still for five minutes. While some people look down on constant fidgeting, it may not be such a bad thing — especially if you're sitting at a desk all day long. A 2016 study compared people sitting, some of whom tapped their feet and others who sat still. The result? Those who fidgeted had significantly higher blood flow and stimulation, bringing more energy and promoting a more resilient immune system and other long-term health benefits.

28. Complaining — about the right stuff

Sure, constantly complaining might annoy the people around you, but letting off steam every once in a while can be a good thing. A 2014 study revealed that people who complained in hopes of achieving certain results were happier than people who complained simply for the sake of it. Don't hesitate to respectfully bring up a complaint when it serves a meaningful purpose.

Related: Want to Be More Productive? Stop Trying to Finish Every Task, and Do This Instead

Bonus: Daily Practices that Benefit Business Leaders

The way you see the world shapes how you move through it. If you're always on the lookout for what's wrong, you'll find faults everywhere. The opposite can also be true. When you focus on positivity and living in the moment, you start to notice the good things around you.

Here are a few practices that can foster helpful perspectives without getting stuck on the negatives.

Gratitude

People's lives become richer when they shift attention to what they have, rather than what they lack. By practicing gratitude, you can remind yourself of life's abundance and simple pleasures — coloring everything else in a positive light.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the act of living in the present, learning to acknowledge certain feelings or emotions as they arise without letting them overtake you. Once you can experience your feelings without judgment, you can learn to manage your life and business with a sense of calm.

Growth Mindset

A growth mindset works from the assumption that if you don't know how to do something today, you can learn it over time. Weaknesses can be improved upon; character flaws can be overcome. People with this mindset have a better time handling stress because challenges are simply opportunities to learn and grow.

Locus of Control

Rather than dwelling on the things you can't control, try putting your effort into the things that you can. Have a long commute to work? Try listening to audiobooks. Hurt your leg jogging? Try swimming.

Forgiveness

Harboring resentment over past hurt can hold you back, but forgiveness allows you to let go of pain and resentment. This can even extend beyond those who've wronged you: Sometimes you need to forgive yourself, which is much easier to do when you make a regular practice of forgiving others.

Journaling

Journaling is a great way to reflect and raise questions or concerns you've been afraid to say out loud. It can also help frame and hone your desires in business, giving clarity on what you want and how you'll get there.

Bad Habits to Break and Avoid

Just as good habits can propel you toward your goals, bad habits can act as barriers.Though some of these habits may deliver instant gratification, they can be harmful in the long run. Try cutting out, or at least cutting down on, the following bad habits.

1. Using your phone, tablet or computer in bed

Blue light plays an important role in your mood, energy level and sleep quality. Unfortunately, many of the most-used devices — like smartphones, laptops and tablets — shine blue light directly into your face. This exposure impairs melatonin production and interferes with your ability to fall asleep, as well as with the quality of your sleep once you do nod off. Doctors at Harvard University recommend avoiding bright screens two to three hours before bed time.

2. Impulsively surfing the internet

When you're fully engaged in your work, you can fall into a euphoric state of increased productivity called flow. In this state, the work feels easy: A 2013 McKinsey report found that executives in a flow state reported productivity levels at five times their baseline. But getting into a flow state takes time — anywhere from a few minutes to much longer, according to David Melnikoff, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. When you disengage from your work because you get an itch to check the news, social media or a sports score, this pulls you out of flow. Dip in and out of your work enough times, and you can go an entire day without experiencing flow.

3. Constantly checking your phone

Multiple notifications are a productivity nightmare. A 2016 study found that picking up your phone every time it pings causes productivity to plummet. Instead of working at the whim of your notifications, turn them off and check your phone and email only at designated times. This is a proven way to avoid the attention suck of checking every notification.

4. Saying "yes" when you should say "no"

Research shows that the more difficulty you have saying "no," the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout and depression, all of which erode self-control. "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." Just remind yourself that saying "no" is an act of self-control that prevents the pitfalls of overcommitment.

5. Ruminating on toxic people

There are always going to be toxic people who get under your skin. Next time you find yourself thinking about a coworker or someone who makes your blood boil, practice gratitude for someone else in your life instead. There are plenty of people who deserve your attention, and ruminating on others isn't productive or helpful.

6. 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. Otherwise, you should be fully present. You might feel like you're getting more done in the moment, but multitasking means you're not engaged and are more likely to miss something important.

7. Gossiping

It might be fun to gossip every now and then, but over time, it can make you feel gross and can hurt other people. There is too much to learn from interesting people to waste your time spreading rumors about what's going wrong for other people.

8. Waiting to act until you know you'll succeed

Some people tend to freeze up when it's time to get started because they know their ideas aren't perfect or what they 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? You may fail at first, but that failure will offer lessons that can spur you on to greater success.

9. Comparing yourself to others

There's a famous saying, "Comparison is the thief of joy." When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction is derived from comparing yourself to others, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. Constant comparisons can also lead to resentment; rather than admiring your coworkers' accomplishments, you get jealous. This will quickly become a negative cycle of animosity — hurting your relationships and your confidence. Try adopting a mindset of learning from colleagues rather than sizing them up.

How to Stay Motivated with Your Habits

Some habits are harder to establish than others, and motivation is the inner engine pushing us to keep at them. It's what separates the truly elite performers from everyone else — the ability to stay energized and work through adversity.

While motivation can come in bursts, it can be hard to sustain. We need reminders and routines, maybe even friends, to hold us accountable. These strategies can help fuel that inner engine as you build healthy habits.

Find your "why"

What is your "why"? Are you volunteering because you really want to make a difference, or are you just seeking recognition from others? A "why" that comes from your deeply held values will be more powerful over the long term. Once you find that "why," use it to help you abandon bad habits or follow through on good ones.

Chart your progress

This is a simple way to see how far you've come. If you want to make a habit of going to sleep earlier, set a reminder for your bedtime and make a note each day of when you actually climb under the covers. You can also note when you wake up. Charting your progress on something tangible like a calendar can also serve as a visual cue, helping maintain motivation.

Join a group, online or offline

Self-motivation can be tough to maintain. Whether you're starting to go to the gym or trying to quit smoking, it will probably be a whole lot easier if you have a friend to push you. Join an online forum, take a class or sign up for a support group – and find people who share a common goal. You can exchange advice, provide moral support and inspire each other to keep pushing forward when you feel like throwing in the towel.

R.L. Adams

Entrepreneur, software engineer, author, blogger and founder of WanderlustWorker.com

Robert Adams is a writer, blogger, serial entrepreneur, software engineer and best-selling author of dozens of technology, SEO, online marketing and self-development books, audiobooks and courses.

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