Success does not happen by luck, and wealth does not happen by accident--those who have built wealth and success have deliberate habits that make them more productive and effective. To emulate these habits, we must train ourselves and be focused; we must take our bad habits and replace them with new ones.
Here are 12 powerful habits that can help you build success and wealth. How many do you already have in place, and which ones do you need to pick up?
1. Be an early riser. Research shows that 44 percent of wealthy people wake up three hours before going to work, compared with just 3 percent of those who are not wealthy. Just the simple act of getting up early adds an hour a day to their lives. Imagine how much productive work you can get done early in the morning, with no interruptions or distractions. Or use this extra time to work on setting goals and exploring opportunities.
2. Network. Research says that 79 percent of wealthy people spend at least five hours a month networking--going to conferences, meeting new clients, attending webinars, meeting for coffee--while only 16 percent of the nonwealthy do. Spending time with like-minded people allows you to align yourself with others and learn from them. Whom you hang out with determines what you talk about and what you do about it; you can change your career outcome by being with successful people who will teach you, lift you, and support you.
3. Scratch the itch. The most successful people are those who felt an itch and began to scratch it--and from there, they became focused as a laser on what they wanted to achieve until they made it their reality. Follow their determination; ignore the noise and keep your FOCUS: Follow One Course Until Success.
4. Read to learn. According to research, 86 percent of wealthy people love to read, as opposed to 26 percent of those who are not wealthy. When you read, make sure you read to learn. Those who achieve wealth and success are constantly in a state of self-improvement; they read to learn and grow. As Dr. Seuss said so well, "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."
5. Make a list. To achieve an overarching goal, you need to list what you want to accomplish. The majority of wealthy people create daily to-do lists--81 percent of them, in fact, compared with 19 percent of those who are not wealthy. What's more, 67 percent of wealthy folks actually complete 70 percent or more of their to-do items every day. They have goals they focus on, and they work hard to achieve them.
6. Get off the couch. It's an hour or less of daily TV for 67 percent of wealthy people, while only 23 percent of the rest limit their TV intake. When it comes to reality shows, only 6 percent of the wealthy watch them, compared with 78 percent of the nonwealthy. Wealthy people choose more productive and meaningful activities.
7. Treat time as a precious resource. Wealthy people avoid wasting time on unimportant matters or distractions. They don't sit for hours at their computer on social media, because they know that time is a nonrenewable resource. Time wasted is not time you can get back.
8. Take intentional risks. Wealthy people understand that risks lead to rewards. As a result, they're more willing to take risks--not reckless risks but calculated ones. The very successful know what they stand to lose if a risk fails and they don't get the reward they are seeking. Most have a plan B in place to minimize the failure, and move forward with a new plan. If the current risk doesn't go your way, there's always another solution.
9. Work smarter, not harder. A smart approach to work, including taking breaks, makes people more productive. Hard work is critical, but that doesn't mean they can never enjoy personal time for relaxation and self-improvement. They have a good balance of work, personal tasks, and pleasure so they can be more creative and more productive--which, in turn, makes them more effective. Work hard, and then take a break. When you come back, you'll be refreshed and more productive.
10. Invest in your health. Wealthy people understand the importance of eating right and working out to stay healthy. Studies show that 76 percent of wealthy folks do aerobic exercise at least four days a week, compared with 23 percent of people who are not wealthy; 57 percent of wealthy people count calories every day, as opposed to 5 percent of the nonwealthy. Even more interesting, 70 percent of rich people eat fewer than 300 calories of junk food a day. Wealthy and successful people know the correlation between healthful eating and working out and their ability to accomplish the things they want to do.
11. Foster your emotional intelligence. Wealthy people know that having good relationships is crucial to success. They are tuned in to their own emotions, which also means they're perceptive at reading the emotions of others. Warren Buffett has stated that emotional intelligence, more than IQ or expertise, accounts for 85 to 90 percent of success. IQ is a threshold competence--you need it, but it does not make you a star. But emotional intelligence can.
12. Pay it forward. To be truly wealthy, you need to understand the importance of paying it forward. As Albert Einstein said, "Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile." What you have, you share. Help someone, because along the way someone helped you. And the truth is, life is always about giving what you get.
Wealth is not something that can solve our problems, and it doesn't always come to those who deserve it.
But it can be an indication that you have worked hard, stayed focused, and prioritized on what is important. Ultimately, though, wealth is not measured by how much you have but by how many hearts you have touched.