Millionaires are a different breed. They operate on a different level than the rest of us. For as long as I can remember, I’ve studied millionaires looking for a nugget of wisdom. What I’ve realized is one very simple truth: they’re the same as us, they just do more than the rest of us.
That’s right. The difference between you and a millionaire, is they make things happen, while you talk about them.
I’m sorry if this is true. I awoke to this very same realization about myself a few years ago, and it changed my life. I woke up, and began getting things done, and saw an immediate positive reaction to my career and entrepreneurial ventures.
But surely, there has to be more than them just working harder – right? There is. Today I’m going to discuss 5 of the common habits of millionaires that seem to be nearly universal. This doesn’t mean that if you do these things alone, you’ll be a millionaire, but I like to say – ‘Fake it till you make it.’ If you do as the successful do, you’ll become successful with enough perseverance, strategy, hard work, and yes, a little luck.
Habit #1: Perseverance.
Google. Facebook. Apple. Starbucks. The first three took 5+ years to become profitable, while Starbucks took 16 years to make its mark outside of Seattle.
Rovio made 51 games that more or less flopped. You might know them by their 52nd game: it’s called Angry Birds.
Henry Ford formed an automobile company before the Ford we know and love – and it failed miserably.
Kentucky Fried Chicken’s founder, known as Colonel Sanders, started multiple businesses which failed. He famously shopped his famous chicken recipe (which is still guarded today) around and received 1,000 rejections before hearing a yes.
Entrepreneurs all face hardship, dips in their business, and failure. Sometimes their business just doesn’t go anywhere for a while. The key differentiator between them and the masses, is they keep going when they believe in what they’re doing.
Seth Godin has labeled this period between ‘startup and mastery’ as ‘The Dip” in his book, The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit – It’s a kickass book that teaches you when to quit, and when to stick it out. If you haven’t read it, and you’re an ambitious person looking to do more than the 9-5 grind, go buy it now.
Habit #2: Reflect often.
We’re all busy. We wake up, we get the kids ready for school, we leave for work. While at work, we go non-stop, or we use what little spare time we have to talk shop with our coworkers. After fighting traffic home, we spend time with our families. Exhausted from a busy day, we retire to bed after some mind-numbing activities (Netflix, Candy Crush, Angry Birds- anyone?).
When you don’t take time to think about things, you don’t think about them. Sounds simple, right? If you don’t think about things, you are stuck in a reactive mode, where all you’re doing is treading water. You’re not being strategic, and you’re not working toward the bigger goal. You’re the sailboat captain reacting to the changes in the wind, but you’re not keeping your destination in mind, which means you might be completely off course.
Successful people spend time reflecting each day. They take 15-30 minutes (or more) to evaluate their business, relationships, tasks for the day – everything. Doing this allows them to remain focused on what’s important, and zero in on what is, or isn’t working.
Habit #3: Plan.
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.
It’s a totally overused phrase, and it’s 110% true. Every successful entrepreneur on the planet has planned their success, and worked hard to achieve it. I’m not suggesting they planned to land a massive sale (I’m sure they dreamed it!), but they planned all of the tasks that built up to their success.
They planned to build a website.
They planned to sell a product or service.
They planned to make calls, send emails, knock on doors.
Then they did it.
Yes, their success was entirely orchestrated. It’s not easy, but it is simple. I thought I was good at planning because I made lists. I was the king of making to-do lists. Here was one of my lists a year ago:
Write a book.
Start a new business.
This isn’t planning. It’s a wish list. As a result, I did none of it…that is, until I changed my list. It was changed to this:
Write a chapter one outline for my book.
Think of a business name.
Purchase a domain name.
See the difference? I broke down these larger goals into small tasks that I can easily knock out. Then I revise and add to the list once those are done. Rinse and repeat.
One of the hallmarks of millionaires is the ability to get things done. It all starts with planning effectively so that you can consume the smaller chunks.
Habit #4: Minimize distractions.
It’s no coincidence that the most successful entrepreneurs are also into productivity hacks that seek to minimize distractions. I strongly feel that the ability to minimize these distractions is an extremely understated skill of the rich. Software like Focus, and Anti-social, promise to keep you more productive by blocking all of the time-wasting sites that you use, while you’re working at least.
My distraction is plain and simple: my iPhone. If I’m bored, I’ll pick it up, turn on music, download a new Podcast, or check the weather – all things that could wait until another time. My solution is much less exciting than software. I keep my phone somewhere other than the room I’m working in. Since I use a Mac, inbound calls and text messages will show up on my laptop anyway, but I don’t have my phone to play with apps anymore. I’ve found that this practice alone has significantly boosted my productivity. It works wonders for me – give it a try.
Habit #5: They sleep less.
While you sleep, your competition is gaining on you.
There’s one trend which is painfully obvious: rich people sleep less than the rest of us. I’m not talking about 30 minutes less. It’s much, much less. Many of the biggest names: Donald Trump, Tesla, Richard Branson, Benjamin Franklin, and Jack Dorsey, sleep up to a few hours less than the average person. On the high end, they sleep/slept 6 hours per night. On the low end, 2-3 hours per night. While I’m not advocating for sleeping only 3 hours per night, there’s a simple truth here: you can do more work if you get less sleep.
Marissa Mayer, the Yahoo! CEO, gets 4-6 hours of sleep per night.
Donald Trump sleeps 3 hours per night. Barack Obama sleeps 6 hours.
Elon Musk sleeps 6 hours.
After studying many of the most famous millionaires, the average seems to be about 7 hours of sleep per night.
In my case, I’ve actually put this one to use. I love sleep. It’s pretty much my favorite thing on this earth. When I began working on side projects (such as writing my book) – the only time I had free was late at night. I began staying up late to work on my book, and I got a lot done. I realized a couple of things early on, however. First, I couldn’t maintain an extreme lack of sleep for long, but I could adjust to getting slightly less sleep each day. I was conditioned to getting about 7 to 8.5 hours of sleep, and some nights I now get 6 to 7 hours. That extra 1 to 2 hours of work in a single day is a big deal.
If you’re a skeptic, try this: Sacrifice one hour of sleep per day, for only 3 days a week, for a couple weeks. Set a goal, and use that extra time to work toward it. If you’re a morning person, get the work done early. If you’re not, get your work in late. Either way, make sure you put that extra time to use. You’ll be amazed at how much you get done in a short period of time.
I’m fully convinced that if you give this an honest shot – you’ll stick with it and actually find that you have a lot of time to work on your side hustles.