7 Habits I Used to Make Myself Rich
Sometimes wealth can feel unattainable. We all scroll past the same Instagram feeds dominated by selfies of celebrities posing in front of private jets, wearing outfits that probably cost more than most people’s rent. They’re in the palm of our hand and yet they couldn’t be farther away from our own reality.
The origin of wealth — what rich people actually do to get rich — is a topic that has been researched for years. There are some traits that the wealthy possess that may give them a leg up over others, such as their race or access to family wealth. But here’s the secret about wealth (true wealth, not just the perception of it): If you learn to adopt a few key habits early in life, you can have a shot at achieving wealth and success, too.
In one of the oldest and most successful books ever written about money and wealth, “Think and Grow Rich,” author Napoleon Hill interviewed hundreds of successful business people to find out how they got there. In that 80-year-old book, Hill wrote out steps to help people achieve their financial goals that are still followed today. These could easily be applied to any goal in life, not just one that is tied to money. Here are some time-tested habits that can lead to wealth, based on his advice:
Don’t just dream. Make goals, then plan to achieve them. "Wishing will not bring riches," Hill writes. "But desiring riches with a state of mind that becomes an obsession, then planning definite ways and means to acquire riches, and backing those plans with persistence which does not recognize failure, will bring riches.”
Be specific about the goals you want to achieve. “It is not sufficient merely to say ‘I want plenty of money.’ Be definite as to the amount,” Hill writes. Do you want to get accepted at a top college? Do you want to earn $1 million by your 30th birthday? Specificity is important. Without knowing exactly what you want, you won’t be able to come up with a game plan.
Realize you may have to make sacrifices. Are you going to wake up at 4 a.m. every day to study? Will you move away from home to land your dream job? You will likely have to sacrifice something to achieve what you want. As Hill puts it, “There is no such reality as ‘something for nothing.’”
Get used to deadlines. Deadlines can be scary, but Hill says it’s important to establish a definite date when you want to achieve your goal. Again, this all goes back to building a plan to accomplish what you want. The plan will look drastically different if your goal is to earn $1 million by age 30 vs. age 60, for example. Without a proper deadline, you can’t come up with a realistic plan.
Once you make a plan, don’t hesitate. Procrastination can be a killer when it comes to reaching whatever finish line we have in our minds. Hill writes about the importance of starting right away once you decide what your goal is. “Begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action,” he says. This is important, especially when you’re only just establishing your career and financial goals. We are hardwired to want to feel as if we are truly an expert at something before we take the first step. In the process, we waste time.
Start to visualize your goals. It sounds corny, but there’s a reason we so often hear that we should envision ourselves accomplishing whatever we want. There is a lot of power in visualization, Hill found. If you’ve been setting goals and deadlines in your head all this time, it’s time to bring them into the world. If you’re having trouble, try writing down your goals on paper or creating a vision board that you can look at for inspiration from time to time. “Money cannot be left to chance, good fortune, and luck,” he writes. “One must realize that all who have accumulated great fortunes, first did a certain amount of dreaming, hoping, wishing, desiring, and planning before they acquired money.”
Get used to spending money (and saving it). One of my favorite parts of Hill’s book is when he hones in on the fear that many people have around money. It can be really scary, right? If you grew up in a household where you were always living paycheck to paycheck, money may be terrifying to you. It’s important to learn how to turn that mentality on its head — instead of worrying about not having money, focus instead on how you can make money. That starts with learning how to spend money and save it as well. If you start building healthy financial habits, like saving a part of your paycheck automatically, you’re more likely to be financially empowered.