There are myriad of factors that influence the achievement of success and wealth. Some are directly within our control, some are not.
By virtue of circumstances, some people lack certain advantages and as such might not be able to maximize certain opportunities. Nevertheless, they can make up for this through effort, discipline and persistence.
For real, life is not fair. Resources, talents, wealth, economic conditions are not evenly distributed.
My focus in all my speech, writing and coaching remains this – to get people to shift their perspectives from the things they have little control over (Their circle of concern – family history, past, circumstances) to the things they have full control over (their circle of influence – habits and mindset).
Your habits and your mindsets are definitely in your circle of control.
I remember Ralph Waldo Emerson words, “Watch your thoughts for they become words, watch your words for they become actions, watch your actions, for they become habits, watch your habits for they become your character, watch your character for it becomes your destiny.”
What this mental shift does is to help you take responsibility for change and to avoid a victim’s mindset.
Life doesn’t always give you lemonades as they say. What you do with your lemons is up to you.
Through study, I have identified 45 habits and mindset that when practiced can put you on the side of the angels in your pursuit of success, achievement, wealth and fulfilment.
Even if success and wealth doesn’t appeal to you, cultivating these habits will definitely improve the quality of your life.
1. Prioritize the cultivation of your inner life
Read and meditate in wisdom books such as The Bible, As a man thinketh. Develop the habit of prayer and thanksgiving. Don’t live thoughtlessly without a definite life philosophy or value system. I mention this first because it is easy to forget that we are spiritual beings on an earthly journey.
2. Use a to-do list
Use a to-do list on a daily basis and work to complete at 70% of your daily task, starting with your most important task. This will help you maximize your work days and deal with the procrastination that comes from an unordered mind.
3. Set Goals
Set yearly, monthly and weekly goals. Put them in writing. Do something every day, every week that builds momentum for the realization of your goals. In accordance, develop your life plan.
Ensure your goals in the near future are aligned with the long term realities you desire in your life. Don’t climb a ladder of success or achievement that is leaning on the wrong wall.
4. Prioritize mastery over money
I recognize some of us have circumstances in which survival is priority and it’s fine. But don’t stay in that phase for long where you show up only because it pays the bills. Work to get to that space where you do your work simply because you want to be the best at it and to develop your potential.
5. Do what you love
It follows from the above that you can’t be a master at something that do not stoke the fire of your passion and commitment. Do you dread going to work? It is might be your own lack of drive, a wrong career choice or working with less than suitable employer.
Though idealistic, I can’t agree more with what Confucius, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” On the other hand, even if you don’t love what you do, you are not excused from giving everyday your best.
6. Read self-improvement books everyday
Read books that challenge you to grow, to be better and to be your best. Read books that fuels the fire of greatness in you. Read at least 30 minutes every day. Read something inspirational, career-building stuff.
Acquire knowledge daily about your chosen career. Keep abreast of relevant information that can boost your productivity and relevance.
7. Cut down on TV and excessive social media use
I’m amazed how people find it easy to make excuses for their inconsistent reading habits and yet make time for Hours of TV. In addition, social media can a distraction especially when used aimlessly. Time is life.
8. Value time
F. Schiller said, “We have failed to recognize our greatest asset: time. A conscientious use of it could make us into something quite amazing.”
You must understand the value of time and make the best use of it. Avoid waiting for perfect conditions to get things done. Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Make the moment perfect.
9. Practice early rising
It is good to have a regulated sleep time. Get as much sleep time as you can get depending on your body needs and the demands of your job and responsibilities.
Rising up early at least 3 hours before you start your day’s work is a habit that champions cultivate. That 3 hours space can be used to power your productivity and prime you for peak performance.
Suitable activities include prayer, meditation, reading inspiring literature, exercising, planning your day, having a light breakfast etc.
10. Do more than you are paid for
Jim Rohn said “My father taught me to always do more than you can get paid for as an investment into your future.” I also believe that you should never take from people in money more than you are willing to offer in value.
Stop praying for a bountiful harvest while investing minimal effort. Stop getting by.
11. Take informed risk
Never play lottery with your money. Never Gamble. Do not be risk-averse either. Don’t allow fears rob you of the pursuit of your dreams. In order to acquire wealth, you must develop an appetite for risk.
However do not confuse reckless investment or pursuit of a get-rich-quick scheme with informed risk. T.S Eliot said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly know how far they can go.” As a balance, Warren buffet’s perspective is necessary, “Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing.”
12. Pay attention to your health.
Stop eating junk. Pay attention to your waistline. Don’t spend your health pursuing your wealth and then later using your wealth to pursue health. Develop the habit of daily exercise. Eat right.
13. Be an incurable optimist
Optimism is not a cure-all or panacea for all of life’s ills but it does prevent them from getting worse through our tendency to make mountains out of mole hills. The best thing about optimism is that it is a learned habit of the mind just as pessimism.
You can make a lot of progress when you give empowering interpretations to your circumstances. You should also understand as Norman Vincent Peale that Attitude is more important than the facts.
14. Value relationships
I have observed that 80% of your success in life, business or personal is dependent on your ability to build empowering and beneficial relationships with people. It also means that you understand that people matters.
Always touch people’s hearts before you ask for their hands. Practice the high road principle – treat people better than they treat you.
15. Maintain a Can-do spirit
Henry Ford said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you are right”. Never let your first response be impossible. Be quick to consider possibilities.
In the words of Norman Vincent Peale, “Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seems to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities – always see them, for they are always there.”
I strongly believe that When you are passionate and belief in the what, the how gets clearer.
16. Network actively
Successful people value their network as much as they value their net worth. They understand the importance of meeting with and clustering around like minded people. They are go-givers, always taking the initiative to be helpful. They tend to get the help they need, when they need it because they give as much as they receive from others and even more.
17. Maximize commuting time with audio books
Brian Tracy always encourages to turn your automobile into a mobile classroom, a university on wheels. This is because successful people don’t waste their commuting time on mind numbing entertainment. They use commuting time to their advantage. They listen to educational audio books.
For those of us who engage in long commutes, the long dreary hours in traffic can be used to our advantage. Fill your iPod and smart phones with great audio books. Most successful people I have researched are maximizing their learning experience through podcasts and audio books.
18. Develop the habit of saving no matter how little
Any education on financial independence that doesn’t teach you to the habit of saving is incomplete and grossly deficient. The discipline of saving as I have found out is the minimum requirement for financial independence. Everything else builds on it.
W. Clement Stone always challenge my excuses and inconsistency in this area when he said, “If you cannot save money, the seeds of greatness are not in you.”
19. Believe in abundance instead of scarcity
Believe there is enough to go around. Stop thinking scarcity. The scarcity mindset makes you seek an advantage for yourself at the expense of others. It keeps you in quagmire of consumerism and self-centered living. Believe in abundance. Be free.
20. Don’t overrate intelligence and downplay creativity
One of the bane of intelligent people can be their over-reliance on their IQ. Most successful people are never impressed with themselves or their intelligence. This gives room for creative ideas to find expression.
It is not the intelligent people who are changing the world, but creative people who stretch the realm of possibility.
21. Develop a bias for action
We will never become famous, loved, remembered or respected for what we intend to do. It is what we do, what we make happen that counts. Develop a reputation for delivering the goods not just talking about it. I suggest you read, Do The Work by Steven Pressfield and Seth Godin.
22. Fail forward
I advise that you should never use your past mistakes or failures as a concrete to build your future. Winston Churchill considered success as the ability to go from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.
Always say to yourself when you are tempted to take your failures too personal, “Failure is an event not a person.” Face the reality – you will never be able to completely avoid failure. Failure is only a good human experience when it provides us with lessons and feedbacks.
This corroborates Henry Ford’s insight that “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
23. Always be closing your skill gap
The space existing between you and your next level of income is a skill gap. To earn more you must close the gap. You must develop new skills especially in a fast changing knowledge economy. You must hone your skills. Never be satisfied with average performance or ability.
You must also close your knowledge gap. Tiny difference in knowledge can produce significant competitive advantage for you or your business. Warren Buffet and Bill gates invest more time in thinking and reading, thereby building their capacity to make quality decisions, anticipate the future and sustain the billion dollar earnings they are famous for.
24. Understand that good habits create luck
We don’t always determine our future no matter our good intentions. We determine our habits and our habits determine our future. Our habits are either setting us up for the future we desire or they are mocking our dreams.
It reminds me about Solomon’s wise saying, “The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labour.” That implies that hard work and discipline are not his habits which explains his end – futility of desire. The lesson is that we create our luck by our habits.
25. Good old hard work still works
Hard work still works. Stop wishing you won the lottery. Stop dreaming of a big break that will ease all your financial burdens. Get to work and keep at it. Don’t say you have no advantage when you have the ability to work. Work is a blessing because through it you can add value to others, earn income that enables you to meet your own needs and the needs of others.
Stop day dreaming. Get to work. Do the work. Successful and wealthy people are the most hardworking people you can ever find around.
26. Be known for Integrity and frank talk
People only respect people they trust. One of the ways to earn trust is to say what you mean and mean what you say. Let your words hold water. Put away lying, hypocritical and ass-kissing speeches.
Don’t be ambiguous or keep people guessing. Be an open book. Ask yourself – Do the people around me take my words with a pinch of salt? If yes, you need to build the social capital of trust and integrity.
27. Marry and be faithful to a great spouse
The choice of your spouse has been repeatedly shown through history to influence the quality of life you live. Ensure you marry someone who is loving, caring and supportive. Don’t forget that it works both ways. Be a greater spouse. Be faithful too.
I can’t agree more with Brian Tracy that “Your ability to enter into a long term loving relationship is an important measure of your character and personality.” I hope you will make it a priority to succeed in this area.
28. Engage in other meaningful life enriching activities
We do not just exist to earn income, we also exist to make a contribution. It is wise to create time to engage in other life enriching activities. If you participate in organized religion, don’t warm the pews. Be a contributing member. Help teenagers deal with the challenges of their transition through mentoring and coaching. Volunteer. Join an advocacy group.
Be found in the company of those who want to change the world and are taking action on their desires.
29. Live below your means
This is one practical advice my big uncle always drum in my ears and one of the most enabling advice that young people need but will gladly ignore. Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. Stop burning a hole in your pocket trying to impress people who don’t really care.
Recognize that it’s not how much you earn but how much you keep that makes you wealthy. Avoid the law that income always rises to meet expenditure. Until your sources of income and investments generate profit in excess of your needs, trim your taste. Invest your surplus.
30. Practice generosity
One of the habits that will help your pursuit of prosperity and deliver your heart from selfishness is tithing. If you are a person of faith always pay your tithe to the church. If you are not, then tithe still. Give the tithe to charity.
Truly successful and wealthy people have a heart for philanthropy. They understand that they are stewards of their wealth and knowledge and they gladly share it with others especially those in need.
31. Understand that soul prosperity influences material prosperity
As within so without. James Allen wrote, “You can’t travel within and stand still without.” As you pursue success, wealth and achievement, do so in such a way that preserves the sanctity of your soul. Your life is way more than what you own.
Ensure you are always at peace with the man that looks at you in the mirror. The enlargement of your heart and the maturity of your soul is one kind of prosperity and the best there is.
32. Your biggest limitations are in your mind not your circumstances
Alexander Bell said, “A man as a general rule, owes very little to what he is born with – a man is what he makes of himself.” Your greatest limitation is not your circumstances but your own mind.
Not all successful and wealthy came from privileged background. Matter of fact, most of the world’s billionaires are self-made, first generation billionaires. They just believed in the power of their dreams and their ideas more than they did their circumstances.
This is one key trait of successful and wealthy people – their ability to rise above the limitations of their circumstances and abilities.
33. A major portion of success in life is showing up
You can never win a race you didn’t attempt. Success often begins with just showing up whether you feel like it or not, whether you are ready or not. Often the baby steps are what matters most in creating an inspiring life.
Don’t delay your life dreams simply because you don’t yet have all you need or you don’t you feel capable of taking that bold step. Do what you can with what you have where you are. Just show up.
34. Prioritize your customer’s trust over their money
Earning your customers trust will earn you their money in the long run. Trying to get their money can only get you so far. When your customer trust you and are satisfied with what you do, they will refer you to others.
Referrals from satisfied and trusting customers are the best form of marketing. Your customers here are many. They also include your boss and your colleague because what you do create or subtract value from them.
Always be known for adding value way more than people can pay for. Take every project and make it WOW.
35. Be selective in the relationships you hold dear
Be careful who you give your ear time. Be careful who you spend your time with. Your life is going to be profoundly shaped by your closest association. Charlie ‘Tremendous’ Jones always said, “You are the same today as you will be in five years except for the people you meet and the books you read.”
Even the books and the blogs you read are forms of cultivating a relationship with the author. You can associate with great men through their thoughts in books.
More importantly, spend time with winners, people smarter and better than you. Never forget that iron sharpens iron. What are you made of?
36. Live one day at a time
One of the greatest dangers and temptations of today is the attitude of waiting to live. Like someone said, we are a generation that is so focused on the future that it forgets to live well in the present. The wisdom here to understand that the past is gone, tomorrow doesn’t exist and the now is all you have.
This is a sober reality – none of us is guaranteed tomorrow yet we live as if we have all the time on earth. Make every day count. You might never get a chance to make your unique difference if you don’t start today.
37. Maintain a commitment to excellence
If you ever desire to look back on your life someday and smile, then remember these words by Charles Dickens, “My meaning simply is that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself completely; that in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest.”
You won’t be happy in the long run if your life is filled with half-hearted efforts and uncompleted projects.
38. Harness the power of routine
The secret of your success is in your daily routine. Learn to harness the power of a good routine. Have a routine for practice, for performance. Routine is not always stifling. It is necessary if you desire mastery in life.
Routine guarantees that you won’t act in a whimsical manner, that your results can be predictable, and that your success is not left to chance. Mike Murdock said, “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.”
39. Have a healthy attitude towards selling
I believe strongly with Daniel Pink that to sell is human. The game of selling has changed. We are all marketing something with the hope of making a sale, whether it’s an idea, your skills at a job interview, your opinions.
We all need some element of sales skills. This is one thing that successful and wealthy people have in common. They understand that nothing happen except something has been sold, whether it’s a vision, an idea, a product, service or personality. The reality is that we are all in sales now.
40. Get good mentors
Isaac Newton understood the power of mentors when he said, “If I have seen further than others, It is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”
Mentors are giants who have capacity to raise your view, to broaden your horizon and to share the perspective of hindsight. They are people who have been where you want to be, done what you want to do and can share invaluable lessons to help you navigate the murky terrains.
Do not walk alone. Engage mentors and coaches in your life pursuits. The journey is better with good mentors.
41. Develop a pleasing personality
The development of a pleasing personality is equally as important as the development as your intellect. What is the use of being so smart, attractive but hard to work with or get along with. People are subjective and eventually do business continually with people they like.
A pleasing personality doesn’t imply you have to be a people pleaser or to kiss asses. But it does mean having a positive mental attitude, being considerate of other people and their opinion, being cooperative, sincere, humble, courteous, tolerant, inspiring, humorous, calm and unruffled.
42. Value Character above your gifts
Your gifts or talents are given to you, you didn’t earn them or deserve them. This is contrary to character, it is developed. Like trust, it often needs to be earned.
The hardest work you will ever do is the development of your character. This is because there can be no holiday in the development of character. Your character is not cast in concrete. It needs careful watch, constant improvement and refining.
Never become overly impressed with your gifts at the expense of your character. The landscape of history is replete with the carcass of gifted people who ignored this advice to their own peril. The result? They were not able to sustain their greatness.
43. Pride sucks
I found no better way to express this than in Solomon’s thoughts. He wrote, “A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honour.” Pride is above all a secret sin with the capacity to make the heart ugly both to God and man.
44. Develop self-discipline
Discipline is foundational to whatever success you hope to achieve in any area of life. Feelings, inspiration, muse can only carry you so far. Discipline is what produces reliability and consistency of purpose.
What began by inspiration will usually need discipline to bring it to completion.
Self-discipline is a very important trait to develop. It helps you succeed with yourself first, giving you the necessary confidence to succeed with others. It is hard to sustain any form of outward success if your house is not in order.
Exercise restraints over your passion, appetites and desires. Learn to finish what you start. Be known for ruthless execution.
45. Practice the golden rule
According to The Message translation of Matthew 7:12, “Here is a simple rule-of-thumb guide for behaviour: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them….”
To the extent that we practice this rule can we hope for genuine change in the world, for the healing of relationships, the sanity of commerce and the restoration of nations.
Let’s have a conversation
Tough one right? How can anyone possibly master these habits and mindset? True! But your life is a marathon not a sprint. You have a life time to develop your character. You don’t have to feel overwhelmed at how much you don’t measure up.
Personally, I don’t measure up in all 45 areas. In some, I have a long way to go but the joy is in the process, the daily striving to become a better person.
I want you to be successful and wealthy. I believe the cultivation of good habits and mindsets will go a long way in making it happen. I share your hopes, enthusiasm, pains and struggles as you seek to become the best possible YOU.
Let these habits and mindsets serve as your sign posts on the road to success. Even when you fail, don’t quit. Always try again. This is the path to maturity of the soul – an unending pursuit of virtue.
I believe in you.