Our habits tend to define who we are. If you make it a point to drive recklessly every day, nobody will be surprised when you eventually get into a traffic accident. This seems obvious to us. Yet the financial equivalent of this principle, tolerating bad monetary habits on a regular basis until you're driven into poverty, seems less obvious.
For the most part, the richest people in the world didn't get to their position overnight. They didn't stumble into money, and it wasn't given to them as a gift. They accumulated it, and continue to maintain it, as a direct result of their daily habits and their underlying philosophies.
These are seven things you'll never catch the world's richest people doing:
1. Playing the lottery. The lottery comes with a bold promise: a chance to win more money than you'd ever know what to do with. But the odds of winning are astronomically low, and logically, you have a far better chance of creating your own wealth than getting lucky and winning someone else's. The world's wealthiest people had no interest in taking chances; instead, they chose to forge their own paths, and as a result, they worked harder, and saw more tangible results. Plus, remember that instant wealth means nothing if you don't know how to manage it--countless lottery winners found themselves bankrupt shortly after winning because they splurged or managed it poorly.
2. Hoping for better outcomes. There's nothing inherently wrong with hope; it's a positive emotion that leads us to more optimistic lives. But for the world's richest people, hope isn't nearly enough. Hope doesn't solve problems. It doesn't create opportunities. It doesn't change anything. If you want to move past a certain chapter of your life, or achieve a certain outcome, you have to move beyond hoping and start taking action. Only through initiated, meaningful changes will you be able to make any difference. The next time you find yourself in a bad situation and hoping for something better, stop hoping and make a better situation for yourself.
3. Abandoning their goals. Goals are crucial for success; they keep you focused, they help you prioritize, and they lead you to bigger, better things. By some estimates, 80 percent of the world's richest people make and follow goals regularly. Compare that to only 12 percent of the poor. But it isn't enough to merely create goals--it's the process of sticking with them, no matter what, that separates the strong-willed from the weak-willed. If you set your goals sufficiently high, you won't be able to hit all of them all the time. But instead of giving up when you fail to meet a goal, it's better to transform or reimagine that goal. Keep making progress.
4. Forgoing self-improvement. Self-improvement is a crucial step in accumulating wealth. People tend to make money based on how valuable they are, and their monetary value stems from their experience, their skills, their expertise, and their familiarity with their respective industries. All these qualities can be meaningfully enhanced through simple, gradual exercises, such as reading the news every day or going out of your way to challenge yourself and build up your skillset. In the words of Richard Branson, "I see life almost like one long university education that I never had–every day I’m learning something new."
What if people in your age and income brackets put an average of 8 percent of their salaries into their 401(k) plans, and the top 10 percent squirreled away 15 percent—and you could see it all on your plan's website?