Photo credit: Astragony
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle.
Becoming a millionaire is not usually an accident. Sure, you can win the lottery but the chances are 1 in 304 billion. And with modern medicine getting better and better your wealthy parents might just live longer than you do! You need a plan.
Now, I’m not pretending to be a millionaire. But I have had the privilege of growing up around a few. In this article I’m going to talk about some of the daily habits of the rich and successful. Hopefully you can apply them to your own business life and get closer to that magic number.
A word of caution about millionaires
I grew up in middle-class family that enjoyed both prosperous times and really difficult times. I am part of a family where my uncles and my grandfather are exceedingly wealthy but my father isn’t. This strange situation gave me insights in to both the attitudes and habits of the rich and successful and those that didn’t quite make it.
I once heard someone close to me say that you can only become rich if you come from a rich family. And while it is probably statistically more probable, it is also a load of shit. Now, I am not going to pretend that growing up around people who have made massive fortunes does not give you an incredible insight in to how to behave and think like a successful person. It does. But it also cripples a lot of people with arrogance and laziness. And for every millionaire’s child who also became a millionaire, there is a millionaire’s child who squandered it all.
And then there are the countless number of self-made successful people. People who did it without the advantage of good advice from grandparents.
Becoming a millionaire is a lot like becoming a professional sports player. Sure, your genetic gifts and upbringing are a huge advantage but, for the most part, you would choose to have average genetic abilities but be hard working, diligent and smart as opposed to genetically gifted and none of the other things.
Millionaires are made by thinking and acting like a millionaire; not being brought up by one. Understanding this is possibly your biggest step.
How to structure your day like the rich
Let’s get into the juicy part of the post – what exactly can you do on a day to day basis that will help you become financially successful? Here are some things that I have noticed my family and other millionaires doing.
1. Get up early
Take 100 millionaires from around the world and I bet not one of them sleeps in til 8.30am. Most of them are up at six or seven working away while everyone else is still eating breakfast.
Getting up early is something that great athletes, history’s most remarkable saints and the world’s richest all do. Muhammad Ali would go jogging while it was still dark before starting his actual training. The Buddha and many of the Tibetan yogis would wake sometimes as early as 3am to start meditating. And most business people are up before the sun.
If you want to have both the energy and the time to fit in everything that needs to be done in a rich person’s day you need to start getting up earlier. Start small but gradually try and get moving as early as if healthy for you.
2. Exercise daily
Most of the rich people I know and have read about exercise on a daily basis. Now, whether this is a cause of being rich or a result of it I am not sure. It is a heck of a lot easier to play some tennis when you have several million in the bank.
Here’s the interesting thing; most of those rich guys and girls that play tennis and hit the gym every day also did so whilst their companies were still growing. It is not just a new-found rich person’s hobby. And the reason for this is that the more energy you expend exercising the more energy you create. People who are fit and health get sick less and they can work longer hours with better concentration than those who eat a high fat diet and just get by on caffeine.
So is it really easier to play tennis when you have millions of dollars? I’m not so sure. Most millionaires are busy as hell from sunrise to well after sunset dealing with new projects, day-to-day affairs and different commitments. They make time for exercise anyway.
3. Don’t entertain self doubt
If you are anything like me you will spend a good part of the day doubting yourself. It is something I am constantly working on. But the fact of the matter is that if you want to become a millionaire you need to start thinking like one. And they don’t waste time on thoughts about failure.
This attitude shift is probably the hardest part of becoming successful. In today’s world we are pressured into doubting ourselves on so many levels. We worry about bills, taxes, healthcare, the terrorist threat level, the economy’s stability… we doubt everything. And that doubt trickles down to ourselves. We hate risk.
Rich people hate risk as much as us but they deal with it anyway. It is like bravery – bravery is said to be not the absence of fear but the mastery of it. Its not that rich people don’t have self doubt, they just deal with it better than most.
If you eat a lot of sugar and fat you will eventually feel lethargic. If you take a lot of drugs you will eventually wreck your brain. If you follow after self doubt all day you will eventually fail at what you’re doing. Often times before you even begin.
4. Exploit what works and what works for you
One of the best bits of advice I have ever been given is to exploit what is working. I talked about it a little bit in my Podcast on distractions and have mentioned it elsewhere. You need to be laser focused on what works.
And within all those endless choices there is lots of room to get lost, get distracted from what is working. So if you find something that you are obviously good at and something that is making you money you should try to exploit it for as long as you can. Don’t waste hours in the day looking for something new when you have something that works.
5. Take an hour for lunch
A lot of new business people will come in to the game thinking that they can’t afford to take breaks, ever. Well you can. You are not that busy. Unless you are a surgeon, a lawyer due in court or stuck in an inflexible shift you have time for an hour lunch break.
Most of the rich people I know stop for at least an hour for lunch. Its not that they want to head off for fancy lunches and goof around; its because they recognize it as important for efficiency. If you constantly strain your eyes they get sore and you get a headache. The same is true for your concentration. You need to relax it. You need to move your legs, get the blood flowing and get some sunshine. It opens your mind and rejuvenates your spirit.
Don’t fall in to the laziness of working through lunch. Be disciplined and make the time for a proper break.
6. When you stop work, stop work
One thing I remember about my father during his successful days is that he never brought work home with him. He often got home at 7 to 7.30pm but he never did any work after that. That was family time. Rest time.
As a self-employed business owner I often fall in to the trap of working long into the night believing that I will get more work done. The irony? I rarely do. I am usually so tired that I don’t function properly or completely wiped out such that the day after is a write-off.
Don’t do it. Stop work at 5pm or 6pm and don’t do anything (including checking emails on your phone) til the next morning.
7. Make time each day for study
The great thinkers, politicians, business-people, generals, etc. of history all took time out of their day to study. Every day.
This is an extremely important point that many people overlook. Your education is not done once you finish College. It is not done once you crack your first $100,000 a year. You need to constantly learn about new methods and ideas.
The most important thing, however, is to study people’s failures. Look at what people and company’s did wrong so you can avoid those mistakes. History need not repeat itself with your bank account or product launch. Find out where others went wrong so you can avoid it.
8. Review your performance each night
I once heard Muhammad Ali say that one of the reasons he was so good was because he thought about and “felt” each successful punch for three seconds after he had done it. Scientists later discovered that this method had helped his muscles remember how to do it such that it became natural.
Similarly, I once heard Buddhist lama say that every night he sat up in his bed before going to sleep and thought about his day. Had he done more good than bad? If so then he felt happy about that and then went to sleep. If not he thought about all the negative and lazy things and made a promise not to do them tomorrow.
This is really smart. If you want to become successful at anything you need to evaluate your performance all the time. What mistakes are you making? What are you doing right? You need to know all the time.
Why all of this is bulls$t
Here’s the truth. Becoming a millionaire is a total waste of time unless you are going to use that money to help people. Warren Buffet (2010′s richest man in the world) once said that the greatest sin of all is to die rich. He has since convinced hundreds of other billionaires like Bill Gates to donate the majority of their wealth to charity when they die as opposed to leaving it in a family trust.
He is right.
Owning a successful business is hard work. It takes a massive amount of energy and time. While other people are out having fun and traveling or seeing shows you are in your office with a coffee and a computer working hard. So make sure you are doing it for the right reason. If you do it so you can have a nice car or house or so you can impress someone you hardly care about then I have the sad suspicion that you will have a lot of regrets on your death bed.
If, on the other hand, you want to make some money so you can help those less fortunate than you, contribute to charities and genuinely make a difference in people’s lives then chances are you will feel pretty happy about what you have had to sacrifice.
If you take anything away from this post I hope it is this. I hope you will work for the benefit of others or else turn off the computer and go and spend time with your kids.