Not too long ago I was reading the post 20 Things The Rich Do Every Day That The Poor Don’t over on the RichHabits blog. To be honest, a lot of what was in there did not surprise me. For example, there were multiple habits that revolve around what psychologists call an internal locus of control. People with this trait believe that they can affect their future with their own action. Writing down goals, believing that good habits create luck, seeing education as a key to success; all these are characteristics of someone who believes that with hard, intentional effort, you can make yourself successful, despite the “lot that life has handed you.”
Don’t believe that? Read the stories of self made people, like Chris Gardner, John Rockefeller, or even J.K. Rowling (hey, there’s even hope for writers!). None of these folks came from money, and some faced incredibly dark times before becoming successful. If you want to watch a movie practically guaranteed to make you cry, try The Pursuit Of Happiness, which tells Gardner’s story of homelessness and despair, before finally getting his chance.
As someone who’s struggled with bad habits in periods of my life, I am an absolute believer that the patterns in our lives can have a tremendous effect on the path it takes. Seeing this list only reinforced that belief.
I would stop short, however, of saying that all poor people are simply poor because of bad habits. I think that is far too simplistic an explanation, which ignores factors like the incredibly skewed distribution of wealth. Circumstances and societal factors absolutely play a role in either increasing or decreasing poverty. Coming from a background in science, I also understand that corrolation does not imply causation; that is, just because the rich happen to be good goal setters doesn’t automatically mean that setting goals will make you wealthy.
That doesn’t mean that the habits listed are not valuable. Quite the opposite, I would say. These skills build upon an overall trait that I consider paramount to success in life: resiliency. Having a large network, for example (habit number 12), would come in very handy when you unexpectedly lose your job. Believing that good habits lead to success (habit number 17) means you are more likely to be motivated to maintain those habits, even when things get rough. All these add up to someone being more able to hit back when life gets them with a roundhouse punch.
We cannot control the cards life deal us. But we can absolutely put ourselves in the best place to run with the hand we are given. I think that is why this list is something anyone wishing for success, financial or otherwise, should read.