Do you have the success habits of millionaires? Or the poverty habits of failure? It can make all the difference in where you end up… whether you produce wealth and the lifestyle you desire. Which of these 18 success habits of millionaires are you practicing today? And which of the 11 poverty habits?
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Do you have the success habits of millionaires? Your habits may be the missing link standing between you… and success and wealth. Because habits create outcomes, like it or not.
Good habits propel us toward success in life. Those with good habits achieve more in school and at work, make more money, are happier and healthier, and live longer. They’re the success habits of millionaires.
But bad habits point us toward failure – doing poorly in school and at work, making less money, unhappy and unhealthy, with a shorter lifespan. The un-success habits of poverty.
That’s what author Tom Corley found and documented in his 2016 book called Change Your Habits, Change Your Life. He researched a group of wealthy and poor people for five years to identify common habits each had. For the rich, he studied those earning over $160,000 a year with $3.2 million or more in net liquid assets. The poor people he studied earned less than $35,000 per year and had less than $5,000 in net liquid assets.
His research is compelling because it hits the heart of wealth and poverty causation. Corley notes the cause and effect value of habits – habits that control our lives without us even being aware of it. Our daily habits control 40% or more of all our daily activities, thinking, choices, and decisions. In other words, we’re zombie-like 40% of the time. (Otherwise your brain would feel overloaded.)
Fortunately, habits can be changed to chart a different course. You can adopt the success habits of millionaires yourself.
Rich Habits vs. Poor Habits
Rich people and self-made millionaires have certain habits. Interestingly, most of the self-made millionaires Corley studied became millionaires after age 50 – which seems to reinforce the fact that it can take time to develop the success habits of millionaires.
Studies show that most of our habits are formed by the time we’re just nine years old. Meaning your parents were your most prominent early mentors – for better or for worse. Other successful people found one or more career mentors who helped make them successful.
And then there are those like me – who learned far too many lessons through the school of hard knocks. Meaning my mentor was myself and the hard lessons I taught myself. Had I known how to seek out a mentor, I’d be much better off with half the grief.
18 Success Habits of Millionaires
Here are 18 of the best success habits of millionaires cited by Corley in Change Your Habits, Change Your Life.
1. Daily self-education reading.
Most people don’t read once they leave school. If you don’t, you’re limiting your success.
Eighty-eight percent of the wealthy devote at least 30 minutes a day to reading. Not reading for entertainment, but for self-education and self-improvement. The rich read to gain knowledge. This is one of the key success habits of millionaires. Don’t leave school without it.
The types of books most read by wealthy folks include rags to riches biographies, self-help and personal development, and history (to understand life’s triumphs and challenges).
2. Aerobic exercise.
Seventy-six percent of the rich get in 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day. Think cardio – walking, biking, running, jogging, swimming. Cardio boosts not just your body, but also your brain – feeding it certain performance boosting hormones.
3. Build relationship capital with other success-minded people.
If you want success, surround yourself with successful people. You become like the people you spend the most time with. This might mean joining formal or informal mastermind groups, volunteering for charities (where other wealthy people often volunteer), and groups like Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce. Seventy-two percent of the wealthy in his study volunteered five or more hours a month.
They also minimize contact with toxic, dream-killing, unmotivated people.
4. Obsessed with personal goals.
Eighty percent of the wealthy in Corley’s study were obsessed about pursuing personal goals. You need passion to succeed. Those who succeed love what they do for a living. There’s a caveat though…
Too many people are pursuing someone else’s dreams (their parents’), not their own. When you chase someone else’s dreams or goals, you’ll soon become disenchanted with your profession.
5. Relentlessly avoid wasting time.
Most people think of risk as financial risk, but they fail to consider time risk. You can always earn more money. But once frittered away, you can never regain the hours given to TV, YouTube videos, cruising Facebook, or other non-productive activities. It’s gone forever. Hours, days, and years of your life.
Sixty-seven percent of self-made millionaires in his study spend less than one hour a day watching TV, and 63% spent less than one hour on the Internet (recreationally). This frees them up to pursue their goals, exercise, read, learn, volunteer, and form relationships.
6. Sleep 7½ hours a day.
Self-made millionaires by and large aren’t people who work all night. Eight-nine percent slept at least seven hours per night. Sleep is essential to success because your brain relies on it to function.
Sleep-deprived people live in a brain fog that triggers car wrecks, industrial accidents, bad business and personal decisions, and failure.
7. Get up early.
Roughly half of the millionaires in his study wake up at least three hours before their official workday begins. They use these quiet hours for personal reading, reflection, exercise, and their most important business tasks of the day.
Life has a way of throwing monkey wrenches into our days, causing an out-of-control feeling. The “5 am Club” is a way to regain control over your life, helping you stay more positive. And is another key success habit of millionaires.
8. Multiple streams of income.
Self-made millionaires don’t rely on just one source of income. They develop multiple streams over time. Sixty-five percent of Corley’s study participants had at least three streams of income – before achieving their first million dollars.
Diversifying your income sources gives you a hedge against the unknown, and helps you weather life’s inevitable downturns. With multiple streams of income, if one falls apart, others can keep you afloat.
9. Avoid procrastination… it’s a poverty habit. Tackle your most important tasks early.
Procrastination stops even highly talented people from achieving success. It’s a key reason people struggle financially. Delay erodes your earning ability and damages your credibility.
One of the main drivers to procrastination is a lack of passion for what you do. That’s 87% of the world’s workforce. Very few are actively engaged in their jobs.
And make no mistake… the temptation of procrastination screams just as loudly at those who succeed in life as in those who do not. But successful people learn to overcome the temptation with to-do lists, self-imposed deadlines, accountability partners, and the practice of nagging themselves with “Do It Now” affirmations.
10. Find a success or wealth mentor.
Ninety-three percent of the study’s self-made millionaires attributed their success to a mentor. Sixty-eight percent said that mentoring was a key factor in their success. These mentors teach you what to do and what not to do, helping you avoid enrolling in the school of hard knocks.
11. Positive mindset.
In Corley’s research, positivity was a hallmark of all the self-made millionaires. Fifty-four percent said optimism was a driving force in their success; 75% said they personally were the cause of their own happy circumstances in life.
Even if you don’t have actual detractors warning that you could fail, lose money, get fired, whatever… you’ll want to find a way to stop your own brain from sabotaging you.
Millionaires overcome this by playing a “What if?” game to silence the demons in their head. They ask positive questions like:
- What if this project/side hustle/business/new job is a success?
- What if I love working on this?
- What if it helps me make more money?
- What if it builds my personal brand?
- What if it attracts investors or helps my company go public?
12. Live a scripted life.
The self-made millionaires don’t stumble into success. They didn’t just “get lucky.” They worked hard to create their own luck. It’s amazing what blood, sweat, and tears can do to “create luck.”
13. Passion for their work.
A common thread among these millionaires was a passion for what they do for a living. Every wealthy person had immense zeal for what they did.
Their passion drove their success. It showed through as passion, persistence, focus, patience, an incredible work ethic, and a desire to learn. Yet most of them never knew they had those traits till they decided to pursue a dream.
Those who have passion simply blow the socks off those who don’t. It’s an “unfair” advantage. That sense of purpose is the magic ingredient.
Self-made millionaires never quit on their dream. More than one-fourth of these self-made millionaires failed at least once in business… but picked themselves up and started over again. Persistence makes you unstoppable. It’s a key success habit of millionaires.
Self-made millionaires often show this dogged persistence despite the fact that the people closest to them are often their biggest detractors… and name all the reasons proceeding is a bad idea.
It takes seemingly superhuman effort to keep going despite the obstacles thrown in front of you by people you love. Yet successful people are successful precisely because they never quit. Some call it dogged determination.
Humans have an overwhelming tendency toward herd mentality. We want to blend in… and will do almost anything to avoid standing out in a crowd. This is scientifically documented.
To become a millionaire, you must leave the herd behind… then create your own herd, get their attention, and convince them to join you. The bigger the herd you create, the more wealth you achieve. Millionaires have big herds, and billionaires have gigantic herds.
16. Practice good etiquette.
During the social restrictions of the pandemic, it’d be easy to get the sense that good etiquette doesn’t matter. But self-made millionaires master the rules of etiquette and practice them.
They send real, physical thank-you cards for any and all gifts and favors. They properly control their speech. They know how to eat at social settings. They dress appropriately for the situation. They know how to introduce themselves. Do you?
17. Make thinking a daily habit.
Thomas Edison once famously said, “Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other 85% would rather die than think.” Self-made millionaires make thinking a daily practice – often in their early morning hours.
What do they think about? Many things – careers, money, finances, family, friends, business relationships, health, dream-setting, goal-setting, problems, charities, happiness…
18. Belief in themselves.
Beliefs are like computer programs. They direct your behavior, choices, and decisions.
If you want to change your life’s outcomes, you must align your beliefs with success. You must replace negative, limiting beliefs with wealth beliefs.
Just as there are “rich habits” that lead to success, there are also “poor habits” that lead to poverty.
Avoid These 11 “Poor Habits” Like the Plague
Give up the “get-rich quick” mentality. There is no such thing. Financial success takes time, energy, initiative, and relentless effort. There’s no shortcut. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar. The lottery is a fraud. Yet 77% of the poor in Corley’s study played the lottery every week.
Most self-made millionaires don’t gamble. Not on sports, not on the lottery. They focus on their dreams and goals instead.
2. Excessive drinking.
More than half of the poor drink more than two glasses of beer, wine, or alcohol per day. Eighty-four percent of the rich drank less than that.
3. Watching too much TV.
Seventy-seven percent of the poor in Corley’s study watched more than an hour of TV every day; 67% of the millionaires watch less than an hour per day.
Watching TV is a time-waster, a hallmark of those in poverty. Productive use of time is a hallmark of self-made millionaires. There’s a reason for the saying, “The poor have big TVs, but the rich have big libraries.” (Reread #1 above in the list of success habits of millionaires.)
Seventy-eight percent of the poor in Corley’s study had a negative mindset exemplified by statements like:
- “I can’t afford (fill in the blank).”
- “I’m not smart enough.”
- “I don’t know how to…”
- “It’s not my fault I’m poor.”
- “The reason I’m poor is those greedy rich people.”
And watch out… your children will pick up on those attitudes and carry your poverty into the next generation.
5. Not reading.
Hardly any of the poor read to learn. Those who read at all, read for entertainment.
6. Toxic relationships.
Only 4% of the poor hang out with success-oriented people. You won’t succeed unless you surround yourself with the right kind of people.
7. Only one income stream.
All their eggs are in one basket… their day job. No side hustles or second streams of income.
8. No life plan.
Ninety-five percent of the poor have no life plan. Yet a scripted life plan is your blueprint for success. Without it you’ll drift aimlessly.
9. Spend more than you make.
No matter how little you make, spending more than you make creates long-term poverty with no escape route.
10. Poor health and eating habits.
Of the poor in Corley’s study…
- 77% did not exercise
- 97% ate more than 300 calories of junk food per day
- 69% ate fast food more than 3x/week
- 86% did not floss their teeth daily
- 69% ate candy more than twice a week
- 53% slept less than 7 hours a day
- 66% were 30+ pounds overweight
11. Not motivated to work or passive about income.
This one is my own observation, not Corley’s, because I’ve known so many people like this. You suggest ways they can raise themselves from their poverty trap, and they blow off everything you suggest. No wonder they have no money.
Do You Exemplify the Success Habits of Millionaires?
The last part of Corley’s book explains why New Year’s resolutions fail, and seven ways to effect change in your own life so that you can change the future for yourself and your children.
One of his key points is habit awareness… Which habits do you currently have and which ones do you need to develop for your future success?
Corley describes the process of habit changing, which is beyond the scope of this article. I suggest you read Change Your Habits, Change Your Life for yourself, which will give you more detail, plus his rich habits checklists for every time of day.
It’s a worthy investment in you, your growth, your happiness, your bank account, and your developing the success habits of millionaires.