Success Requires Change and Change is a 7 Step Process

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Change is easier said than done.

Success in life is really about change. In order to get from where you are to where you want to be, you must change.

But, change, I learned, is a process.

From my Rich Habits research, specifically my research on how self-made millionaires transformed their lives from ordinary to extraordinary, I’ve identified seven steps that are part of this change process:

  1. Clarity – In order to know what change is required in your life, you must first gain clarity as to what exactly you want to change into. What is your vision of your desired life. More specifically, who do you want to be and when do you want to be who you want to be? Knowing your desired destination, creates clarity.
  2. Awareness – What are you currently doing every day that has created the life you have? Becoming aware means understanding which behaviors are holding you back from realizing success. For the most part, these will be daily habits that need to be changed.
  3. Desire to Change – Will you do what needs to be done? This is a stop sign for most people. The desire to change needs to be strong enough before you are able to move on to the next step.
  4. Taking Action – Action creates motivation. Action stirs the passions deep within. But until you take action, motivation and passion will be hard to find.
  5. Tracking – Change is a trial and error process because the actions you take may not be moving you forward. But you’ll never know if you are making progress unless you track that progress from the very beginning. Tracking helps you identify what works and what does not work. It tees you up for the next step.
  6. Pivoting – Heuristics is the process of experimentation through trial and error. Only by taking action and tracking your progress will you learn what works and what doesn’t work. Once you have an idea what doesn’t work, it’s time to pivot. Pivoting involves experimenting with different activities until you stumble upon an activity that, thanks to tracking, separates what doesn’t work from what does work. You know what works because you will experience little blips of success. Those little blips of success are life’s way of telling you, you are on the right track.
  7. Create Time-Tested Habits – Once you figure out what works by pivoting, the next step is to convert what works into daily habits. These daily habits will then put you on autopilot for success. Depending on the type of habit, it can take as long as eight months for a daily behavior to become a habit. So, stick to what works for eight months and it will become a daily habit.

Finding Your Inner Greatness

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Most of the self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits study never saw themselves as anything but ordinary.

Most weren’t very good students growing up. Only 14% were A students. The remaining 86% were either B, C or D students.

Most came from either poverty (41%) or the middle-class (59%), so their parents had few, if any, rich, influential friends who could open up doors for their children. And, since most of their friends were either poor or middle-class, those friends couldn’t open up any doors for them either.

Only 61% of my self-made millionaires went to college. For the rest, the 39%, college was an expensive luxury they just couldn’t afford.

So, how did they break free from poverty or the middle-class then?

A more targeted, better question would be: What unique traits did they posses that elevated them above their socioeconomic peers?

I discovered that every self-made millionaire had six common traits that were responsible for helping them climb out of poverty or the middle-class.

I cover these in detail in my two most recent books – Change Your Habits Change Your Life and Rich Habits Poor Habits, but I’ll share them with you here, in the order of importance:

  1. Intense Passion
  2. A Desire to Learn
  3. Relentless Practice
  4. Laser-Like Focus
  5. Hard Work Ethic and
  6. Patience and Persistence

The great irony is that my self-made millionaires didn’t even know they possessed these traits until some passion deep inside of them stimulated them to take action.

Once they began pursuing that passion, it’s like all hell broke loose.

Their desire to learn more about the thing they were passionate about became an obsession that morphed into a daily habit.

Their love for what they were doing kept them doing it, practicing it, every day until they become proficient, then good, then virtuosos in what they were doing. even when nothing was going right and everything seemed difficult.

Their intense desire to learn and overcome every obstacle forced them to focus like a laser at different times, so they could figure out what to do and what not to do.

An outsider looking in would see my self-made millionaires tirelessly pursuing their passion and conclude that they possessed some unique, manic work ethic.

Because mastery and success took so long, an average of twelve years or more, they forged two co-traits: patience and persistence.

The #1 thing I took away from my very ordinary self-made millionaires is that everyone is born with these success traits hardwired into their DNA and just waiting to be sprung loose.

Unfortunately, they remain dormant until you unleash them. And you unleash them by pursuing things you are passionate about; activities that make your heart sing.

Passion creates the desire to learn.

Passion provides the emotional energy to practice every day for many years.

Passion allows you to focus like a laser in solving problems and overcoming obstacles.

Passion allows you to work long hours for many years, forging a manic work ethic daily habit.

And Passion enables you to take a long view, as you patiently persist in pushing the ball up the hill.

You have really one thing to do in order to succeed in life:

Find something that makes your heart sing and take action on it!

The rest of what you need to succeed, will follow.

Here’s Why the Rich Have Multiple Streams of Income

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Self-Made Millionaires Build Their Financial Empire One Revenue Stream at a Time

In my study of the daily habits of the rich and poor, I learned that most self-made millionaires generated their income from multiple sources:

  • 65% had three streams of income
  • 45% had four streams of income and
  • 29% had five or more streams of income.

Having multiple income streams makes a lot of sense.

When one stream is negatively affected, for whatever reasons, the other streams can come to the rescue and help you survive the downturn, without dramatically affecting your lifestyle.

Some famous examples of this multiple income stream principle at work include:

  • Ashton Kutcher invested some of his Hollywood cash on Skype in 2009 when it was valued at just $2.75 billion. Microsoft purchased Skype for more than $8 billion, making Ashton enormously wealthy. (Source: Computer Business Review)
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger gets most of his current income from real estate investments he made prior to becoming a famous film star.(Source: Book – Tools of Titans)
  • Warren Buffet – Through Berkshire Hathaway, Buffet is invested in 63 companies. That’s a lot of baskets kicking off a lot of income streams. (Source: Berkshire Hathaway)
  • Sir Richard Branson has over 200 businesses that kick off streams of income for him. (Source: Autobiography – Finding My Virginity)
  • Elon Musk has seven businesses that generate various revenue streams: SpaceX, Tesla, SolarCity, The Boring Company, Hyperloop, OpenAI and Neuralink.(Source: Wired)
  • Mark Zuckerberg, through Facebook, owns 69 other businesses that generate various revenue streams.(Source: Wikipedia.org)

Most people have one stream of income – their job. If you do not save and invest your savings in assets that generate additional streams of income, and you lose your job, you could find yourself living with a relative.

Putting all of your eggs in one basket by being dependent on one stream of income is risky. If that basket breaks, what do you do?

Many of the 177 self-made millionaires in my study built their businesses while employed full time. If they can do it, so can you.

How do you create multiple streams of income? In our book, Rich Habits Poor Habits, co-author and self-made millionaire Michael Yardney explains exactly how he helped hundreds of ordinary individuals become self-made millionaires by creating multiple streams of income. Here’s a list of some of Michael’s top tips:

  1. Save, Save, Save – Save 10 – 20% of your net income every year.
  2. Learn, Learn, Learn – Develop new skills that you can eventually turn into a side business. Acquire knowledge that you can use to start up a side business or that can help you intelligently invest your money in assets that generate passive income. Passive investments include: residential rental properties, commercial rental properties, TICS, triple net leases, seasonal rentals (beach areas, ski resort areas, lake front areas), equity investments (stocks, bonds, mutual funds), annuities, permanent life insurance, royalty-generating property (timber, oil and gas), boat rentals etc.
  3. Invest, Invest, Invest – Invest part of your savings in a side business that will one day generate an additional stream of income.
  4. Reinvest, Reinvest, Reinvest – Once your side gigs begin generating cash flow, reinvest that cash flow to either grow the business or invest that cash flow in other side businesses or assets that generate passive income.

If you can’t do it on your own, partner with others and keep building your side businesses or passive investments. That’s what self-made millionaires do. Very few do it on their own.

Three streams of income seems to be the magic number for the self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits Study, but the more income streams you can create in life, the more secure your financial house will be and the more wealth you will create.

Never Make a Decision Driven by Fear

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In 1993 I was offered a high paying job as a Principal at one of the largest CPA firms in the world. I was 32 years old at the time, with a wife and three very young children I absolutely adored.

After great deliberation, I decided to turn down the job. I was concerned that the job would take me away from my family too much. Family, I rationalized, was more important than money. I actually felt noble and proud of myself for making the “right” decision.

I did not think much about that decision until more than a decade later, when I began interviewing the 361 rich and poor people who were part of my Rich Habits Study.

I learned from that five-year exercise that rich people do not let fear guide their decision-making.

Don’t get me wrong, rich people do not ignore their fears. But they do deal with fear differently than the poor people in my study did.

The millionaires had a Rich Habit when it came to decision-making that incorporated two elements:

  1. Confront Your Fears – They would make a list of all of the things that could go wrong with any big life decision.
  2. Plan for the Worst – They would create contingency plans to deal with each worst-case scenario.

If one of those worst cases did happen, they were not caught off guard – they had anticipated it far in advance and had a plan to deal with it, already in place.

The poor people in my study, however, had a Poor Habit of focusing on their fears and making decisions that were fear-based.

It was not long after finishing my study that I realized my 1993 big life decision was anything but noble – it had actually been dictated by fear.

So, eleven years later, I did just what the rich people in my study did – I confronted the fears behind my 1993 decision:

  1. I was afraid I would not see my children grow up.
  2. I was afraid I might hate the job.
  3. I was afraid of not meeting my new company’s expectations and that they would fire me.
  4. I was afraid I would not like the people I worked with.

Four fears dictated my decision-making. And it came at a cost – we struggled financially for many years thereafter and I was forced to secure a second part-time job to help bring in more money, which ironically meant I did not see my kids as much as I wanted to.

Never make big life decisions that are driven by fear. When faced with a big decision forge the habit of confronting your fears, create contingency plans for each worst-case scenario, put all of your fears on the bookshelf (ignore your fears) and then make a decision.

Decisions made out of fear, almost always turn out to be the wrong decisions.

The Easiest Sure-Fire Way to Become Rich

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Everyone has a financial plan – that includes you, whether or not you know it.

As I’ve learned from my extensive research of the rich and poor, some financial plans can make you rich or make you poor.

For Non-Savers, their financial plan is to spend every dollar they make. This financial plan will force you to work well into your retirement years in order to support your standard of living.

For Want Spenders, their financial plan is to spend more than they make and fund that excess with debt. This financial plan eventually forces you to make drastic changes in your life, when your credit runs dry. It can also lead to dependency, relying on the financial support of your children or loved ones.

For Dreamers, their financial plan is to invest all of their time and money, often even debt, in a dream and pursue that dream for many years, hoping it will make them wealthy one day down the road. Pursuing a dream is a very hard thing to do. Dreams typically require an enormous investment in time and money. And dreams are very risky – there is no guarantee that the time, money and debt you invest will result in success. Failure is commonplace among dreamers.

For Virtuosos, their financial plan is to invest all of their time and money, and often debt, in becoming a Virtuoso in some field. Becoming a Virtuoso requires that you develop mad skills or knowledge. Acquiring that skill/knowledge takes many years. Often, it requires formal schooling  – graduate school, medical school, law school, get a PhD, etc. It may even require obtaining hard to get licenses, practice many hours a day for many years, study many hours a day for many years, etc.

Saver-Investors, however, choose a very different financial plan. One I like to think of as the easy way to riches. Their plan is simple – spend 80% or less than they make, no matter what, and invest that excess money prudently over many years. The drawback about pursing wealth as a Saver-Investor is that it demands discipline and sacrifice to live below your means.

In our instant gratification, consumerist society, being a Saver-Investor makes you an outlier – the nonconformist who eschews spending money so they can save and invest.

But, the upside is that becoming rich, or at least financially independent, is virtually guaranteed, so long as you develop the Rich Habit of prudently investing your savings.

No need to spend years developing mad skills in order to become a Virtuoso.

No need to take significant risk in time and money in pursuit of a dream.

Your entire focus is limited to two things – living below your means and investing your savings carefully.

 

Living to 100

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According to researchers at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, living a healthy lifestyle:

  • Reduces cardiovascular disease by 82%.
  • Reduces the incidence of cancer by 65% and
  • Increases your lifespan ten years or more.

Over a thirty-year period, the researchers studied 78,865 women and 44,354 men, all over the age of 27. In their study, they concluded that there were specific healthy lifestyle habits that produced good health and a long life expectancy:

  1. Eating Healthy Food – Examples include vegetables, tree nuts, high fiber foods, whole grains, fish, seafood, fruits, berries, eggs, lean beef, chicken, lamb, sourdough bread, Ezekiel bread, legumes, yogurt, potatoes and dark chocolate.
  2. Daily Exercise of 30 minutes – Exercise includes aerobic and anaerobic (strength exercises like weight lifting, core exercises, etc.).
  3. Maintain Healthy Body Weight – Maintaining an optimum body weight through healthy eating and a low calorie diet. According to my research, a low calorie diet is between 1,800 – 2,200 calories for men (average) and 1,500 – 1,800 calories for women (average).
  4. Moderate Bad Behavior – Bad includes smoking, alcohol, unhealthy food (i.e. junk food, fast food, soda, coffee, drug use, sugar, salt).
  5. Adequate Sleep – Between 6.5 hours to 8 hours of sleep a night. The key is getting five sleep cycles in every night. Every person is different. Each sleep cycle can range from between 65 minutes to 90 minutes.

Good health is a Rich Habit.

Become a Happiness Farmer

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How many farmers plant weeds?

Most weeds are not a food source and many actually inhibit the growth of crops, destroy crops or spread rapidly. They can also host crop pests such as aphids, fungal rots and viruses.

Any farmer who decides to plant weeds, would, therefore, soon find themselves out of business and financially destitute.

Our lives are a mirror of how we treat others.

When you criticize, condemn or complain – when you treat others poorly – you are planting weeds. And like the weed farmer, you will reap that which you sow – you will be surrounded by toxic, negative relationships.

Success, in large part, depends on forging relationships with other upbeat, optimistic, success-minded individuals. According to my Rich Habits Study, these Rich Relationships spread positivity, happiness, love and joy wherever they go.

As a result, people like associating with upbeat, optimistic, happy people, like doing business with them, like referring business to them, like loaning them money and like investing time and money in their dreams and goals.

Make a habit of planting happiness wherever you go. Complement others every chance you get. Look for reasons to praise your employees and subordinates. Appreciate your spouse for doing their “job” around the house.

Everywhere you go, everyone you see, make it a daily habit to drip a little happiness on them. The better you treat people, the better people will treat you.

Become a Happiness Farmer and you will reap what you sow.

Not Every Thought Needs to Come Out of Your Mouth

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My Aunt Peg was famous for speaking her mind. She told you exactly how she felt. You knew exactly where you stood with my Aunt Peg because she let you know. And, she was very proud of this character trait.

Now, many reading this might be shaking their heads in agreement. In fact, you might believe that speaking your mind is an admirable trait.

The problem is, it isn’t. In fact it’s a Poor Habit.

When my Aunt Peg died, I noticed there were only a handful of non-family members at the funeral. That made me sad because I loved my Aunt Peg.

The sad truth is that my Aunt Peg’s habit had alienated many people over the years.

Building friendships and relationships is a hard thing to do period. But speaking your mind makes it virtually impossible.

According to my five-year study on the daily habits of the rich and poor, 69% of the poor acknowledged that they “spoke their mind”.

Conversely, 94% of the wealthy forged the habit of choosing their words very carefully – they did not speak their mind.

Why such a disparity?

Becoming a self-made millionaire requires building strong and powerful relationships with others. It can take years of careful, deliberate effort to cultivate important relationships. Those who are able to rise from poverty or the middle-class to become very wealthy do so, in large part, because of the relationships they’ve built over many years.

As I’ve often said, relationships are the currency of the wealthy.

One thoughtless word, however, can undermine all of those years of relationship-building. Millionaires, therefore, forge the Rich Habit of carefully choosing the words they use with others. This way they avoid insulting or angering others.

Saying what’s on your mind will negatively affect relationships, your business and ultimately cost you money. If you want to be successful in life, you need to choose, very carefully, the words that come out of your mouth.

Not every thought needs to come out of your mouth. Not every thought needs to be spoken.

Sleep Creates Mastery

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Many people have heard of Francis Crick. In 1983, Crick received a Nobel prize for his discovery of the helical structure (snake-like structure) of DNA.

But Crick also spent 30 years studying sleep. Specifically, how sleep affects memory and skills. Crick’s theories remained just that, theories, until Matthew Walker (Why We Sleep) came along and conducted various experiments that helped confirm many of Crick’s sleep theories.

One such theory was that learning, followed by sleep, strengthened the retention of facts and also helped to boost skill memory.

In various experiments, Walker had participants learn new facts or new skills. One group was then permitted to sleep while the other control group did not sleep. The group that slept experienced a 20-35% increase in retention and accuracy – they were able to retain more facts or perform their new skills better.

The results of Walker’s experiments showed that offline learning occurs during deep sleep. Put another way, practice does not make perfect – practice, followed by a night of sleep, is what leads to mastery.

For those of you pursuing a dream or success, Walker’s insights are critical to your journey.

The pursuit of a dream or success forces you to gain knowledge or skills you didn’t otherwise possess. Those who forge good sleep habits, increase the chances for success by boosting the retention of new facts and perfecting the new skills acquired in the pursuit of a dream or success.

In short, learn or practice and then follow that learning/practice by a good night’s sleep. The offline process of deep sleep will help solidify what you learn and will improve your skills, increasing your chances of success.

The Incredible Powers of Optimism

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Tom Corley boats - cropAccording to the latest science, pessimism inhibits brain performance and your ability to think clearly becomes impaired.

The famous 1998 and 2001 Broaden and Build Studies by B.L. Frederickson concluded that positivity and optimism increase your ability to focus by broadening the capacity of your brain to focus and solve problems.

Conversely, Frederickson found that pessimism narrowed your ability to focus by partially shutting down the functioning of the prefrontal cortex, you executive command and control center and the seat of creativity.

In short, optimism supercharges your brain and opens your entire brain up to creativity and problem solving, while pessimism suppresses brain performance and creativity.

  • When you are optimistic, your risk tolerance levels increase – You are less afraid to take risks.
  • When you are optimistic, you become more social and outgoing – You forge more meaningful relationships with others.
  • When you are optimistic, you are more creative.
  • When you are optimistic, solutions to problems come easier.
  • When you are optimistic, your cognitive abilities increase – You become smarter.
  • When you are optimistic, you feel more enthusiastic about everything you do.
  • When you are optimistic, you feel happy about life.
  • When you are optimistic, your confidence is high.
  • When you are optimistic, fear no longer holds you back from taking action.
  • When you are optimistic, your imagination runs wild.
  • When you are optimistic, you are more apt to pursue your dreams and goals.
  • When you are optimistic, obstacles and impediments are easier to overcome.
  • When you are optimistic, you become more persistent – Challenges, fears and obstacles no longer stop you in your tracks.

But how do you flip the switch on your mental outlook from pessimism to optimism?

The short answer is, you have to feed optimism the right kind of food every day:

  • Exercise – Forge the daily habit of exercising aerobically (i.e. walking, jogging, biking) and anaerobically (i.e. weight training, core workouts, strength training). Exercise increases SNF2H and BDNF, nerve growth factors which improve brain cells or create new brain cells.
  • Dream-Set – Create a script or vision of your ideal, perfect, future life. Read your script every day for 30 days. This will feed your subconscious with new directives. Intuition will speak to you – telling you which goals to pursue.
  • Develop some new skill – This forces the brain to re-wire itself. The brain loves growing synapses and will reward you by boosting dopamine, a happiness neurochemical, every time you engage in that new skill.
  • Practice – Improve existing skills through daily repetition.
  • Self-Educate – Increase your knowledge by reading, listening and watching content that is educational or related to your career/vocation.
  • Sleep 7 to 8 hours a day.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Experiment – Do novel things. The brain loves novelty and will reward you with a boost in norepinephrine, another happiness neurochemical.
  • Forge new relationships with other optimistic people. This boosts serotonin levels, Serotonin is another happiness neurochemical.

These daily habits naturally boost happiness neurochemicals (Dopamine, Serotonin and Norepinephrine), making you feel upbeat, optimistic and happy. They also require your brain and improve brain cell health and efficiency.