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How Are Your Habits Setting You Up For Success?

Business & MBA Editor
Tammie Cagle is a writer, editor, entrepreneur, and certified academic life coach. Tammie received her bachelor’s degree from Texas A & M University-College Station and her MBA from Marylhurst University.

Happy New New Year! Let’s discuss habits and how they can set you up for success in 2024.

There is one book I keep returning from my time as an MBA student. It is “The Practice of Adaptive Leadership” by Heifetz, Grashow, and Linsky. We explored this book in a Nonprofit Management course. One quote from that has stayed with me over the past decade.

“There is no such thing as a dysfunctional organization. Each organization is perfectly aligned to achieve the results it currently gets.”

Let’s think of this in the framework of a company. If a company has a high turnover rate, the leadership could tell themselves that they just can’t find the right people. While the leadership could think they are shifting the blame, what they are doing is shifting the power. Because this line of thinking puts the power of organizational success into the hands of the imaginary employees they have yet to find.

But if you think of this from a systems viewpoint, their company is set up and running in a way that leads to high turnover.

This is good news! Instead of just hoping that they can find the right equation of people at some point, the leadership can explore their organizational systems and see what changes can be made for more sustainability. This gives the leadership control to move toward sustainability and success. 

What does this have to do with your success? I’m so glad you asked.

Personal Systems

Systems can be explored at the macro level (organizations) and the micro level (individual). 

Let’s say that you are in an online MBA program, and you keep churning out subpar work because you are doing it at the very end of the day when you are exhausted. What systems are at play here? One system is your time management. Let’s look at your day. 

  • Maybe you need to work on some timeblocking to keep you on a school schedule that works for you. 
  • Maybe you can take public transportation instead of driving to get extra reading time. 
  • You could possibly combine your reading with your workout time by listening to an audiobook while walking.

One great benefit of looking at your life or your day as a system is that it can allow for some detachment. I’m not a terrible student who can’t get the work done; I just need to tweak my system to where it works better for me.


One way to make our personal systems more effective and efficient is by building habits. Habits are just regular practices that usually you don’t even have to think about. In fact, our brains love habits. Our brains actually love things that we don’t have to think much about because it saves energy for other things we have to do. 

I saw one neuroscientist explain it this way:

He asked a group of people, “What is 10 plus 10?” Everyone immediately shouted out 20. Then he asked something like, “What is 437 plus 968?” You could almost feel a palpable “ugh.” The response to the second question differed greatly from the response to the first. Your body kind of has a negative response to it. That is because our brains generally like things we don’t have to spend too much energy on. 

I bring this up because the more we know about things, the more we can use it for our overall success. Are there simple habits you can build to help your day run more efficiently?

Systems of Success

Here is the plan:

First, think about your life as a system. What type of outcomes do you want, and what type of system can you make to achieve that outcome?

Do you want to attend business school and get a top-ranked MBA? What do you have to do to get there? Do you need to take the GMAT? Do you need a study schedule?

Now, start with some trial and error. This step is critical, and you must center this on curiosity and collecting data. Do you need:

Try something and see what works for you and what doesn’t. There is no right or wrong way to succeed at something.

Now, what habits can you build into your plan to make your life more efficient, effective, or easier? 

  • Do you start your day with a walk to wake you up? 
  • Do you go to bed earlier? 
  • Do you meal plan once a week so you eat better and have more energy?

How about starting with one habit? What one habit can you put in your day to set you up for success?