Are there habits wealthy people consistently practice that impact their success? Are there traits or strategies we can incorporate into our own day-to-day lives that can give us a better chance of financial success?
In his book, Rich Habits–The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, Tom Corley suggests there are. For five years he observed habits–which he defines as daily, unconscious practices– of 233 rich people and 128 people living in poverty. What he found were significant differences in the daily activities and attitudes of the two groups. Here are seven habits commonly practiced by the wealthy individuals he observed.
1. They’re persistent.
While we generally think of persistence as more of a personality trait, it’s certainly a habit that can be learned and practiced over time. When faced with adversity, wealthy individuals keep pushing through, knowing that success could be right around the corner.
They’re persistent in all areas of their lives, not just when it comes to money-generating activities. According to Corley, persistence is evident in everything that wealthy individuals do:
- 67 percent were cognizant of and careful about how they spent their time; for instance, TV watching was limited to less than one hour per day.
- 81 percent made a consistent effort to control their thoughts, feelings, and words.
- 80 percent had pursued a single goal for at least one year.
- 88% read at least 30 minutes every day in order to increase their knowledge.
2. They set attainable goals.
Whether we realize it or not, we’re constantly setting goals for ourselves. Anytime we look to the future and think about what we’d like to have or do, we’re essentially setting a goal for ourselves:
“I want to become a recognized leader in my field.”
“I need to bring in more money in order to meet my financial obligations.”
“I want to take an expensive vacation with my family every year.”
The problem with these goals, of course, is that they aren’t specific, and they aren’t necessarily realistic. For instance, if I’m working for minimum wage, going on an expensive holiday probably isn’t in the cards for me this year.
Corley found that wealthy individuals consistently set specific, attainable goals. These goals were realistic and had a specific set of actions that would need to be carried out in order to be met.
For instance, instead of saying, “I would like to earn $1 million this year,” a more realistic and specific goal might be: “I will bring in an additional $25,000 this year by increasing my production capacity.” Assuming it’s actually possible to increase production, this is a goal that can realistically be attained through careful planning and hard work.
Corley writes, “If you want your wish or dream to come true, you need to create goals around them, pursue those goals and achieve those goals. You need to break your wish or dream down into manageable tasks that you are able to perform. The accumulation, over time, of the completed goals will move you forward toward realizing your dream. You will still need outside help and outside influences, but luck has a way of finding the prepared and the persistent.” In other words, having a dream is great, but you need to set up smaller, more manageable goals to reach along the way. As you reach these smaller goals, you check them off your list and move ever closer to achieving your dream.
3. They find a career mentor.
This is a big one; in fact, 93 percent of wealthy individuals had a mentor who assisted them on their path to success. Finding a great mentor can be challenging, but the payoff can be huge. Condoleeza Rice stresses the importance of finding a mentor, but also gives a warning: “Search for role models you can look up to and people who take an interest in your career. But here’s an important warning: you don’t have to have mentors who look like you. Had I been waiting for a black, female Soviet specialist mentor, I would still be waiting. Most of my mentors have been old white men, because they were the ones who dominated my field.”
There are many reasons mentors are such an important support, but here are a few of the key ones:
- They help you avoid mistakes they themselves have already made.
- They inspire and motivate you to stay on task and keep working toward your goals.
- They connect you with people who can help you along the way (“It’s all in who you know”).
To learn exactly what to look for in a mentor, see my article, 7 Key Qualities of an Effective Mentor.
4. They are positive.
According to Corley’s observations, the wealthy individuals he observed generally had a positive outlook on life, were upbeat and happy, and were grateful for what they had. Some more specific findings were as follows:
- 94 percent avoided gossiping
- 98 percent believed in limitless possibilities and opportunities
- 94 percent enjoyed their chosen career
- 87 percent were happily married
- 92 percent were happy with their level of health
[Some may wonder here–myself included–if they were happy with their lives because they were wealthy, or they were wealthy because they were happy and positive. Chicken and the egg.]
He also found consistently negative attitudes and beliefs cropping up among the poor:
- 85 percent were unhappy in their jobs or careers
- 53 percent were unhappy in their marriage
- 78 percent believed optimism wasn’t necessary in order to be successful
- 77 percent believed lying was necessary to achieve success
Attitude matters, to be sure. While it seems a far stretch to say that simply being happy leads to wealth, maintaining a positive outlook and attitude certainly can’t hurt.
5. They educate themselves.
As mentioned above, 88 percent of wealthy individuals spent at least 30 minutes each day reading in order to expand their knowledge. In addition, 85 percent read two or more books per month on an ongoing basis.
Nonfiction books like biographies, self-help books, or materials related to their business or career were all popular choices. Wealthy individuals were able to translate what they learned into actionable information they could apply to their daily decisions. They made a habit of prioritizing self-education, and used what they learned to reach their goals and improve their lives.
6. They track their progress.
When you live off the cuff, without much thought as to what you’re doing, it’s nearly impossible to know what you need to change or do differently in order to succeed. For instance, if you don’t keep a monthly budget, it’s impossible to know how or where you can save money.
Corley found that wealthy individuals were almost obsessive about tracking and measuring in all areas of their lives:
- 67 percent kept up-to-date to-do lists
- 94 percent balanced their bank account each month
- 57 percent counted the calories they consumed
- 62 percent set goals and tracked whether or not they were on track to achieving them
Setting and attaining goals becomes far more difficult when you have no yardstick by which to measure your progress. To give yourself the best chance of success, keep yourself organized and track the progress you’re making toward your goals.
7. They surround themselves with success-oriented people.
Wealthy individuals seem to intuitively understand the importance of being around other goal- and success-oriented people. They are intentional about nurturing these positive relationships, and they invest the time and energy necessary to help these relationships grow.
Corley writes, “Wealthy, successful people are very particular about who they associate with. Their goal is to develop relationships with other success-minded individuals. When they stumble onto someone who fits the bill, they then devote an enormous amount of their time and energy into building a strong relationship. They grow the relationship from a sapling into a redwood. Relationships are the currency of the wealthy and successful.”
His suggestion is to dedicate 30 minutes each day to nurturing such a relationship. This could mean being a sounding board, giving advice, or just generally being a helpful companion. As you build and nurture this relationship, that person is likely to reciprocate and become a trusted and valuable supporter.
Do you practice these seven habits in your own life? Have you been able to achieve your goals through consistently applying these strategies?