The word “wealth” is highly subjective. For some, wealth is a comfortable living without worrying about money. For others, it brings to mind mansions and private jets. But have you ever stopped to think what being “wealthy” means to you? To take it a step further, consider this: Is being wealthy the same thing as being rich?
As I’ve mentioned before, I think that the two terms are quite different. For me, trying to be rich means being concerned with a number, while trying to be wealthy means being concerned with time. Sure, you might make a million dollars a year, but if you don’t have financial freedom or time, then that doesn’t constitute true wealth in my book.
I’m obsessed with the idea of financial freedom (as you may have gathered), and that concept ties directly into my definition of being wealthy. So, I’ve been reading quite a bit about people who have achieved “true” wealth. Who are they? What did it take for them to get there? Of course, there is no set roadmap to wealth. However, I do believe that many wealthy people do share certain behaviors and common mindsets. If we can adopt these behaviors, then we, too, can find ourselves on the road to wealth.
7 Behaviors of the Wealthy
Wealthy People Make the Most of Their Limited Time
In The Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod uses many examples to show that most of the successful people in the world tend to have a set morning routine, and accomplish quite a bit before the rest of us are even awake. How you set your morning determines how the rest of your day goes. Do you attack your day or let it come to you passively?
Additionally, wealthy people tend to not waste much time. They know that time is the most precious thing in life. This doesn’t mean you can never enjoy yourself or watch Netflix, it simply means that you're extremely intentional and spend your time on the things that you enjoy the most. Then you’re extremely productive with the rest of your time.
I’m always trying to be more efficient with my time, and it can be tough. I'm sure you feel the same. I try to juggle the responsibilities of a physician, husband, and father while also running multiple businesses and vetting any possible passive income opportunities. I am not the most organized person (I'm working on it), so I believe that if I can do it, anyone can.
Wealthy People Think Positive
When it comes to new and interesting opportunities, most physicians truly are their own worst enemies. We doubt our ability to succeed outside of medicine, since that’s all we know. But I believe the opposite is true. It took tremendous drive, intelligence, and competence to get where you're at. Be proud of it. If we focus our efforts on other things, why would you think that we couldn’t be just as successful?
Don’t analyze every opportunity to death and find yourself in “analysis paralysis,” be bold. If it’s not meant to be, it won’t work out. But at least you’ll never have to wonder whether that opportunity might have been a good one. The cost of inaction is what you should fear the most. Where will you be in five or ten years if you don’t take any chances? And more importantly, are you okay with the status quo?
Wealthy People Surround Themselves with Successful People
As the saying goes, “You are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time.” I absolutely agree with this. Have you ever noticed that when you’re around motivated individuals, you find yourself motivated? This is the whole point of finding mentors or creating mastermind groups. It’s best to learn from people who have reached the goals you hope to achieve or are at least striving for it. If you keep the company of people who aren’t happy in what they do and take no action, you can get dragged down.
How do you find these like-minded people? Do what I did: ask colleagues around the hospital. I started in the operating room, asking questions like, “What kind of things are you investing in?” and “Do you have any side hustles?” Just from doing this, I found a good group of physicians who were investing in real estate or wanted to learn more. We started meeting to teach each other what we knew and motivate each other.
Find like-minded people and get to know them on a deeper level. Go to conferences that feature subjects related to things you're interested, and not just having to do with medicine. I had my first discussions about joining the White Coat Investor Network at a conference completely unrelated to medicine (called FinCon). Now that I’ve surrounded myself with people like PoF and WCI, it pushes and motivates me to be better. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I’ve got a lot to learn and can always improve.
Wealthy People Set Definitive Goals
As you all know, the more specific you make your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them. For example, in my opinion, your goal shouldn’t be to be financially independent (someday). It should be something more like, “I want to be financially free from medicine by age 50.” That was my original goal, and I pushed hard for it. It just so happens I hit it by 40, but I don’t think I would’ve gotten here so quickly if I hadn’t set that goal 4-5 years ago. It made me take steps and not put off taking action. This goal was specific, attainable, and time-bound, and it made for a much more effective motivator.
Of course, since then I’ve created new goals. My next financial goal is to have five 6-figure income streams by the end of 2018. I'm a big believer in multiple income streams and so why not push for it?
Wealthy People Track Their Net Worth
I’ve gone into this at length, but keeping your eye on the score helps you achieve tangible goals. Course correction is part of the game. It’s extremely unlikely that anyone’s path to wealth follows a straight line, and simply knowing where you are on the path can be very beneficial.
There are successes and possibly some failures along the way, but if you keep your eye on the prize and just keep heading in that direction no matter what happens, you will get there. I track my net worth monthly and use Personal Capital, but some people love doing it the old-fashioned way on Excel.
Wealthy People Are Continually Educating Themselves
Can you name the last non-medical book that you’ve read? Or a step further: what’s the last financial book you’ve read? My goal is to read one financial-related book every month (here are some of my favorites).
When do I find time to read? Well, I’ll often read instead of watching television, or when I’m on a flight. I also have the books on my phone and Kindle, so I can read a chapter or two instead of surfing the web. Don’t get me wrong though, I always have to check ESPN at some point during the day, and I do occasionally enjoy a YouTube death-spiral.
Other ways to educate yourself include taking courses like the WCI course, reading blogs, watching webinars, and listening to podcasts. There is an endless supply of resources that can be absorbed in many different mediums. You just have to figure out what works for you.
Wealthy People Are Smart with Their Money
They pay themselves first. This means that they make sure to invest in and build a healthy financial future first and foremost.
Wealthy people tend to understand the difference between value and price. They’re often selectively frugal. They spend money on things that bring value to their lives. I’ve found I enjoy “spending” on things that create more money for me and ultimately free up more time. Investing, for example, is much more exciting to me than shopping, because I know that smart investments will impact the way my family and I live in the future.
Wealthy people know the value of delayed gratification. Sometimes it’s better to forego a temporary pleasure in order to receive a future payoff. Sure, I like nice things like everyone else, but I try to not let that be my main focus or at least try to wait for it a bit.
Also, don’t be afraid to invest in yourself. It’s not a waste of money or time to focus on personal development or educating yourself as mentioned above. Time spent learning can pay huge dividends down the road.
Is There an Easy Roadmap to Wealth?
Life would be so much easier if there was a simple roadmap to follow. Most people would love to just have a detailed manual on how to achieve true wealth. However, when it comes to things like businesses or investments, even though there are hundreds of thousands of books on these subjects, it’s unlikely that any particular one can show you the guaranteed road to success. Instead, I usually suggest that you focus first on the mindset of success. Get your attitude in the right place and I believe that success will follow.
For me, it helps to think of this whole thing as a journey, and everyone has to figure out what the endpoint is for them personally. I have a financial number goal, but that number is of no use unless it also comes with time freedom. That’s the most important thing for me.
Because of this, most of the books that I read help me to make sure my head is in the right place to achieve the things I want to achieve. I want to live life on my terms and spend it with the most important people in my life. Ultimately, my goal is to be wealthy, not rich.