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
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
- 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
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.
“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
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