We’ve all heard impressive rags-to-riches stories — a drug addict who becomes a multimillionaire, for example. And there are certainly successful entrepreneurs who come from money. But what about those of us in between who aren’t from rags nor riches? There’s room for all of us to drink from the fountain of wealth; we just need to embrace these eight key ingredients.
- Delay Gratification: I watched a TED Talk about the marshmallow test: A psychology professor put 4-year-olds in a room alone with a marshmallow. The instructions: Eat the marshmallow now, or wait 15 minutes and receive two more marshmallows. Only one out of three kids waited for the extra treat; 15 years later, 100 percent of the students who waited were successful — good grades, great relationships, terrific careers. Self-discipline and the ability to delay gratification are essential ingredients for wealth.
- Start Early: There are three things you want to focus on for wealth accumulation: saving more, earning more, and investing more. Start with something that intrigues or excites you. If it doesn’t make you want to learn more and grow into it, you’re less likely to stick with it. Worried it’s too late? One of my favorite sayings is, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” You’re never too old to start cultivating and accumulating wealth.
- Develop Daily Habits: Another key ingredient to success? Building habits and being able to modify them when necessary. It’s not always easy. I tell people to try and brush their teeth with the opposite hand. It’s hard! It feels awkward, but you’re practicing and learning how to change your behavior and life outcomes. Start now with simple things — brushing your teeth with the other hand or parting your hair the other way — so you’ve got the muscles needed to sustain big changes when they really matters.
- Find Your Motivation: One question to always ask yourself: For the sake of what? On the quest to cultivating wealth, there will be bumps in the road. There will be depressing days. There will be emotional tornadoes. You need a compelling answer to that question to weather those peaks and valleys. If someone doesn’t have a compelling answer to that “Why” question, they will not make it.
- Practice Self-Discipline: Self-discipline is a muscle. No one comes out of the womb with self-discipline. It’s about doing things we don’t like, and it’s definitely about doing things we’re not comfortable with. Self-discipline is a muscle that needs constant reps. We can’t just wake up one day and say, “I have it now! I have self-discipline,” and then not exercise that every day. It doesn’t work that way. It needs to be practiced. And it’s also about doing it your way. Don’t wake up early to meditate because someone else told you it was a good idea. Find your own routine and stick with it forevermore.
- Get Financially Literate: This isn’t about knowing every intricate detail of the stock market. It’s understanding how money flows, how inflation works, and what is an asset and what is a liability. You don’t need to know stock exchange codes, but you do need to have a basic understanding of how inflation can pulverize your savings and why living in the house you own is a liability, not an asset.
- Invest Money to Make Money: Sure, you can start a business for $100. But if you want to make millions, you need to invest thousands. If you want to make billions, you need to invest millions. You have to invest money to make money, whether that means buying better software or employing talented people. You can start a business for $100, but don’t get fooled into thinking that you can grow an empire for $100.
- Find Balance: I’ve heard from my clients over and over that when they exercise, go to the spa, or go out in nature, that’s when they have their best ideas and when creativity flows. That infuses their business with so much joy and peace, and that’s how businesses succeed. I’ve also seen clients who make incomes in the multiple six-figures, but they’ve sacrificed their marriages or their health. Ask yourself the cliché question: What are the things you’ll wish you had done differently on your deathbed? Think of them now.
What’s the key to making this all happen (because it’s easier said than done)? Find someone who will call you out on your blind spots and who isn’t afraid of you or giving you a dose of tough love. We all need that person in our lives, whether it’s a partner, a coach, or a friend.
Tina Chen is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.