When I was 21, I was ready to take my life to the next level, but I felt stuck—I still lived at my parents’ house, I was making $8 an hour at a side job, and I was enrolled in a never-ending MBA program. Deep down inside, I knew I had to escape. But unlike I was used to doing, I wasn’t going to run away from myself.
This time I was determined to make a change—I wanted so bad to become successful, except I didn’t know what to do or where to start. What I firmly believed, though, was that if I changed my habits, my habits would change me. So instead of fooling around with miscellaneous activities like sports and TV, I started reading books and giving speeches.
And I saw positive results. Professionally, I became more competent. Personally, I became more confident. This realization, that competence breeds confidence, was the pivotal point that changed my life. It enabled me to reach the summit of success, to create wealth and inspiration for so many people.
The habits I created are what made me who I am today—they are what took me from $8 an hour at 21 to a self-made millionaire at 24. And they can change your life, too.
1. Simplify your words.
How well do you spread your message? Millionaires know how to share their message in simplest terms. They use their words with precision and possess deep meaning in what they say. Personally, I peruse the dictionary every day, but I would never attempt to use every word I know. By speaking pompously, many people exterminate their opportunities. In short, never drown people in the sea of verbosity.
To learn to speak with ease, join your local Toastmasters club to brush up on your communication skills. Unfortunately, too many people get lazy with their communication and subtly conform to the habits of others. But millionaires diligently work on improving what they say and how they say it.
2. Abandon the old.
Before you are able to face the new, you must relinquish the old. If you want a new car or house, then bless the old one and search for a new one. When you want to achieve a positive mindset, you must get rid of the negative one first. To abandon your negative habits, you must replace them with positive ones.
I realized this one day as I was feasting on a couple cheap burgers at McDonald’s. I decided to venture out to find the finest steak houses in the area to seek a new and delectable experience with my meals. Instead of indulging in $1 burgers several times a week, I was happier to splurge my money on a robust steak once or twice a month.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Therefore, excellence is not an act, but a habit.” —Aristotle
3. Set goals—daily.
Every day, I set my goals on paper. This is an inspiring habit that I promise to keep for the rest of my life. Whether you’re writing your financial projections, planning your weekly tasks or scheming new ways to build your empire, you’ll want to create a daily goal-setting habit that will give you momentum—on a daily basis.
When you set your goals every day, it helps you prioritize and keep “first things first.” Prioritization is first doing what matters most. Instead of pursuing $100 actions, this habit will promote you to embody $1,000 activities. Once you accumulate more profitable activities in your day, you’ll add money to the bank.
4. Be congruent.
You must do what you say you’re going to do. There will be many times in your life where you’ll be asked to sacrifice your personal values to reach professional goals. Don’t do it. There’s nothing more valuable than remaining congruent in your personal and professional lives—it allows you to mix “business with pleasure.”
Many people will tell you that you can’t mix business with pleasure, but they’re wrong. When you’re doing what you love, business is pleasure. When you’re living a life that is based on integrity, your reputation will grow, enriching yourself and many others in the process. Never put your reputation in jeopardy by failing to remain congruent with your highest values and ideals.3
5. Make decisions.
The more decisions you make, the more successful you will be. While one person could make a dozen decisions in a day, another one can make hundreds. The person who makes the most decisions will win, even if their decisions lead to failure. Just imagine, if you were going the opposite way on a one-way street, you’d learn to quickly make adjustments!
But most people are afraid to make crucial decisions because they are conquered by fears, which leaves them paralyzed. Being paralyzed prevents them from making decisions, forcing them to forfeit opportunities. Always make a decision, even if you don’t know where it will lead. Soon enough, you’ll find the answers you need.
6. Ask questions.
Most people assume that they know answers. Their assumptions actually hold them back from knowing the truth. You should want to ask questions to gain clarity about the direction you are heading, but the fact is that many people don’t ask any questions—they habitually guess their way. Why? Many people don’t want to ask questions because it exposes them to confront the reality of their circumstance, which may scare them, or asking questions forces them into the laborious task of thinking, which is why they fail to do it.
To become a millionaire, don’t answer your questions, but question your answers. When you need to know the facts, you must inquire—don’t just make assumptions.
“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” —Voltaire
7. Become a master.
One time, a fine pianist performed at a party. After she was done, a woman from the party said to the virtuoso, “I’d give anything to play as you do.” As the master pianist sipped her coffee in slow motion, she took a brief pause and said, “Oh no you wouldn’t.” Soon, a great hush filled the room as they were baffled in astonishment and massive confusion.
She continued, “You’d give anything to play as I do, except time. You wouldn’t sit and practice, hour after hour, day after day, year after years.” Then she flashed a warm smile while repositioning her coffee cup. “Please understand, I’m not criticizing,” she said. “I’m just telling you that when you say you’d give anything to play as I do, you don’t really mean it. You really don’t mean it at all.”
“Every master was once a disaster.” —T. Harv Eker
Good habits are as addictive as bad habits. Once you’ve adopted a good habit, keep gaining new ones. An average person develops up to 10 new habits a year, which also means that they are dropping that many old habits. Regardless, think about your daily habits and how they affect you.
And remember, you make your habits in the beginning—then your habits make you!