Every day we are challenged to make decisions that either serve our goals or work against them. We want to do the right thing, but often our impulses get the best of us and we make a decision that doesn’t serve us. The challenge is that we allow ourselves to choose everyday instead of putting choices on autopilot or eliminating the decision factor. This is where habits come in. Habits make it easier for us to do the right thing and they take away decision overload.
Thomas Corley, a CPA, CFP from New Jersey, knows this to be a fact more than most. He invested years of his life to interview roughly 300 rich ($5 million +Net worth) and 200 poor people (under $25,000 Net Worth) to understand what set them apart. What he found was that it wasn’t necessarily their backgrounds, education or experience that made the difference, it was their ongoing habits and choices that resulted in huge economic differences between the groups.
Additionally, Thomas found that most poor people blamed their status on being “unlucky.” They felt that they had been dealt a bad hand and never given the chance to be successful. Indeed, many had been doled out “random bad luck,” such as illnesses and accidents, but more often than not what they lacked was “opportunity luck.”
Thomas defined opportunity luck as the byproduct of good daily habits. What successful people did differently, was to do the things that are necessary over the long term in order for opportunity luck to occur in their lives. They were continually planting seeds of success that eventually sprouted in uncommon moments, appearing as though they had been the beneficiaries on “random luck.”
Given that we know habits are the key to success, what do we do to get started on creating better ones? We take time to assess our daily patterns of living and how they create certain results in our life. “Understanding that our own daily habits are preventing us from becoming successful represents the most significant step on the path toward financial success.”-Corley.
I assessed my current habits and found that I had several good habits that corresponded with Tom’s Rich Habits and a few that worked against me. In reading through these habits, think about your own daily rituals and how they work for or against you.
The first rich habit that Tom shared, which I incorporate into my daily life is: set goals for the day, month, year and long term. How do I do this? Every Sunday I brainstorm what I want to accomplish that week, I then add a to-do to my work calendar, follow through and then recap my month and determine what gaps I still have in accomplishing my annual goals. I continually make course corrections to get back on track and achieve my goals.
The second rich habit I have is engaging in self-improvement every day. What this means is becoming a student of your industry and your own mindset. As your knowledge base grows, you continually open yourself to new ways of thinking and connecting with others. Moreover, as you understand your own mindset and how to improve it through tactics you learn, you enable yourself to take more inspired action and follow through on your commitments.
The third habit I have is to devote part of each day to forming lifelong relationships. Relationships are the building blocks of fulfilling lives as well as successful businesses. “Successful people employ a system in managing their relationships.” -Corley. No matter what systems you use, it’s important to develop a cadence of regularly checking in with people. Even if it’s only on their birthday or to invite them to an annual special event—remember to connect with them regularly to maintain the relationship you have invested into.
The one habit I don’t regularly have is controlling my thoughts and emotions each day. On one hand, I don’t think it’s realistic to always be a robot and on the other, if you allow your mind to run with negative thoughts and emotions, you will quickly find the wind falling out of your sail. Engaging in productive activities and positive emotions enables rich people to save themselves from the pool of depression that often captivates their poorer counterparts. Taking time to process your emotions and evaluate the best reactions, allows you to preserve your composure and reduce bad decisions.
My hope is that this article, inspired by Thomas Corley’s Rich Habits, helps you identify what habits you have that are either serving or working against you. If you would like to find out more about all the rich habits, click here.