Last week, as I prepared for my daily three-mile run, a friend shook his head and sighed, “I wish I had your discipline.”
I told him: “It’s not discipline. It’s just a habit.”
Thomas Corley, president of Cerefice & Company Accounting in Rahway, studied both millionaires and the poor for over five years. The result is his book: Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals,
Not surprisingly, Mr. Corley found that millionaires are different than average people. What might surprise you, however, is the traits that set millionaires apart have little to do with money. In fact, the most common things many millionaires share are simple daily rituals which, over time, lead to improved productivity, health, relationships, knowledge and—consequently—wealth.
Here are eight daily rituals many millionaires share, and how you can easily adopt them in your own life.
Millionaires have a daily must-do list
When Corley asked about to-do lists, 81 percent of rich people said they kept to-do lists, compared to 19 percent of those in poverty. Two-thirds of wealthy listers complete 70 percent or more of their daily tasks.
Need help making the most of your to-do list? Before you go to bed, try writing down between three and six (no more) of the most important things you need to do tomorrow. Prioritize them, then start with number one and don’t stop until it’s complete.
Millionaires don’t watch TV
This action item (or non-action item) has more to it than “Judge Judy” reruns being hazardous to your mental health. It’s about productive use of time, Corley says.
Only 23 percent of millionaires watch more than an hour of TV a day, compared with 77 percent of everybody else. That leaves time for wealthy folks to do other things that broaden their financial horizons.
We’re not saying you have to cancel your Netflix subscription, but if you watch on the regular and you’ve ever claimed you don’t have enough time to do something, well, you have your answer.
Millionaires read The Financial Times
Go ahead, make fun of those sissy, salmon-colored newsprint pages; the FT crowd is laughing all the way to the bank. Last year, Harvard’s Neiman Foundation ran an article on the Financial Times’ supposed struggles.
But it appears some folks are counting the wrong numbers. The piece also cites FT’s own stats, which estimate average subscriber income at $250,000—while 13 percent of readers are millionaires.
Now, The Financial Times may not be for everybody, but reading a global business publication—especially one that might challenge you to learn new things about business and finance—is a good habit. The Wall Street Journal and The Economist are others to consider.
Millionaires are healthy eaters
It’s hard to get your moneymaking brain in high gear if you feed it Twinkies and Cheetos all day long. And the sad news is that diets of low-income people are getting worse, while those of high-income people are improving, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Internal Medicine.
This problem is undoubtedly complex: less-affluent consumers may have a harder time accessing healthier foods due to income and geography, but successful people are also more focused on their diet and overall health and more willing to seek out (and spend more on) healthy foods.
If you want to change your eating habits, skip fad diets. Instead, start treating your food like the fuel it is. Eat just enough of the right foods to power through your workday or your workout. Save junky meals and snacks for special occasions when you can enjoy them guilt-free.
Millionaires never stop learning
Audio books. Podcasts. Real books. TED Talks on YouTube.
Whatever the forum, wealthy folks are absorbing more knowledge, Corley says. His research shows 63 percent of the wealthy listen to audio books during a commute to work.
Try downloading a business or self-improvement podcast for your next 30-minute drive or treadmill session. Alternately, check out one of these essential personal finance books.
Millionaires rise early
The early bird gets more than the worm, it seems. Murray Newlands, a startup advisor, investor and entrepreneur, writes the following:
“Take 100 millionaires from across the world and I’ll bet you not one of them sleeps in. The majority of these individuals are up at six or seven a.m., slaving away while the rest of us are still eating pancakes.”
If you love the snooze button, this one’s tricky, I know. Start small by waking up five minutes earlier than usual. If you’re really serious about becoming an early riser, check out Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning. It’s a program that helps you gradually incorporate things you love to do into the first minutes or hour of your day so, eventually, you can’t wait to leap out of bed instead of hiding from the world under the covers.
Millionaires prioritize self-improvement
It’s one thing to say you want to get better at something, it’s another thing to make it a priority and actually do it.
New York Times bestselling author Brendon Burchard—who hangs out with the likes of Bill Gates and Richard Branson—consistently blocks out time to create. He calls it a habit of the super successful.
Want to make it work for you? Choose one thing that you want to do more of, be it exercising, learning a new skill, or creating, and block out time each day or each week to work on it. Treat the appointment like any other and commit to showing up.
Okay, not every wealthy person does—we all know the fat cat stereotype.
But Psychology Today study showed that being physically active positively influenced 15-year income. The physically active men in the study earned between 14 and 17 percent more than their less active twins.
You know you need it. Just do it!
What’s interesting about these daily rituals of millionaires? I think the main takeaway is that building wealth doesn’t necessarily equate with just sound investment strategy or working extra to make extra money.
Note how many items on this list revolve around general self-improvement—“sharpening the saw,” as the late Stephen Covey once put it. Better brain power, better nutrition, and better screen habits create needed room to embrace financial success—or any other kind, for that matter.