Our habits tend to define who we are. If you make it a point to drive recklessly every day, nobody will be surprised when you eventually get into a traffic accident. This seems obvious to us. Yet the financial equivalent of this principle, tolerating bad monetary habits on a regular basis until you're driven into poverty, seems less obvious.
For the most part, the richest people in the world didn't get to their position overnight. They didn't stumble into money, and it wasn't given to them as a gift. They accumulated it, and continue to maintain it, as a direct result of their daily habits and their underlying philosophies.
These are seven things you'll never catch the world's richest people doing:
1. Playing the lottery. The lottery comes with a bold promise: a chance to win more money than you'd ever know what to do with. But the odds of winning are astronomically low, and logically, you have a far better chance of creating your own wealth than getting lucky and winning someone else's. The world's wealthiest people had no interest in taking chances; instead, they chose to forge their own paths, and as a result, they worked harder, and saw more tangible results. Plus, remember that instant wealth means nothing if you don't know how to manage it--countless lottery winners found themselves bankrupt shortly after winning because they splurged or managed it poorly.
2. Hoping for better outcomes. There's nothing inherently wrong with hope; it's a positive emotion that leads us to more optimistic lives. But for the world's richest people, hope isn't nearly enough. Hope doesn't solve problems. It doesn't create opportunities. It doesn't change anything. If you want to move past a certain chapter of your life, or achieve a certain outcome, you have to move beyond hoping and start taking action. Only through initiated, meaningful changes will you be able to make any difference. The next time you find yourself in a bad situation and hoping for something better, stop hoping and make a better situation for yourself.
3. Abandoning their goals. Goals are crucial for success; they keep you focused, they help you prioritize, and they lead you to bigger, better things. By some estimates, 80 percent of the world's richest people make and follow goals regularly. Compare that to only 12 percent of the poor. But it isn't enough to merely create goals--it's the process of sticking with them, no matter what, that separates the strong-willed from the weak-willed. If you set your goals sufficiently high, you won't be able to hit all of them all the time. But instead of giving up when you fail to meet a goal, it's better to transform or reimagine that goal. Keep making progress.
4. Forgoing self-improvement. Self-improvement is a crucial step in accumulating wealth. People tend to make money based on how valuable they are, and their monetary value stems from their experience, their skills, their expertise, and their familiarity with their respective industries. All these qualities can be meaningfully enhanced through simple, gradual exercises, such as reading the news every day or going out of your way to challenge yourself and build up your skillset. In the words of Richard Branson, "I see life almost like one long university education that I never had–every day I’m learning something new."
5. Living above their means. When most people fall into debt or find themselves unable to pay the bills, it comes down to one critical mistake; living a lifestyle that requires a greater income than you're actually receiving. Imagine for a moment you make $2,500 a month, and you pay $1,500 in rent and about $950 in other regular expenses. That only leaves you $50 leftover--if rent goes up or you have an emergency, you'll immediately start accumulating debt, which becomes more and more difficult to pay off. The world's richest people got to where they are and continue to stay there because they live below their means. If they made $2,500 a month, they'd make sure their expenses never went above, for instance, $1,800, leaving an ample $700 a month for unanticipated expenses, saving, and investment.
6. Settling for less. Rich people started out with their minds made up. At some point, they decided they were going to be rich someday. They convinced themselves that they deserved to be rich, and they started seeing their lives in different terms because of it. While not necessarily demanding, rich people never settle for less when they know they deserve more. They negotiate. They seek higher salaries. They look for better opportunities. They don't just accept things and move on; they're always looking for the best of all possible scenarios.
7. Letting their money sit idle. Last but not least, you'll never catch one of the world's wealthiest people keeping money in an idle bank account. You need to make your money work for you by investing it in something--it could be stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, or anything with a proven track record of success. Investing lets your money earn you passive income, which if reinvested creates a powerful system of compounding interest. Otherwise, inflation will continue to rise and your money will actually lose value.
Eliminate these bad habits and reckless decisions from your daily life, and eventually, you'll find yourself in a much better financial position. Again, there are no shortcuts, so understanding these concepts won't help you get rich overnight, but they will help you set a long-term course for a much brighter future.