Author Thomas C. Corley spent five years studying the lives of both rich people (defined as having an annual income of $160,000 or more and a liquid net worth of $3.2 million or more) and poor people (defined as having an annual income of $35,000 or less and a liquid net worth of $5,000 or less).
He then differentiated what he calls “rich habits” and “poverty habits” – essentially, the tendencies of both groups – which he details in his new book, “Change Your Habits, Change Your Life.”
“From my research, I discovered that daily habits dictate how successful or unsuccessful you will be in life,” Corley writes.
No predictions of the future or guarantees of riches here. But if you want to be successful and build wealth, it won’t hurt to start by nixing these 11 common, yet costly, habits:
- Reuters/Siu Chiu
“There is no such thing as getting rich quick,” Corley writes. “Financial success takes time, takes initiative, and requires relentless effort. Those who gamble are deluded into thinking there is a shortcut to success.”
In his study, 52% of poor people gambled on sports at least once a week and 77% played the lottery every week. Conversely, 84% of rich people did not bet on sports and 94% did not play the lottery.
“Self-made millionaires don’t pursue any get-rich quick schemes. Instead, they make a habit of pursuing their dreams and their goals.”
2. Eating an unhealthy diet
- Matt Cardy/Getty Images
“Poor health habits create detrimental luck,” Corley writes.
In his study, 97% of poor people ate over three hundred junk food calories each day, 69% ate fast food three or more times a week, 69% ate candy more than twice a week, and 66% were overweight by at least 30 pounds.
Wealthy people value their health, says Corley. In addition to eating healthy, they exercise consistently, sleep seven or more hours every night, and make a daily habit out of flossing.
3. Drinking too much alcohol
While the occasional glass of wine or beer is fine, drinking too much could impede your chances of financial success.
“Fifty-four percent of the poor in my study drank more than two glasses of beer, wine, or alcohol each day,” Corley reports. “Eighty-four percent of the self-made millionaires in my study drank less than that.”
Drinking too much could affect your memory and ability to think clearly, Corley explains. Plus, it’s a lot of extra calories and isn’t part of a healthy diet.
4. Hanging out with toxic people
Eighty-six percent of the rich people in Corley’s study made a habit out of associating with other success-minded individuals. “They also make a point to limit their exposure to toxic, negative people,” he explains.
On the flip side, “Only four percent of the poor in my study associated with success-minded individuals. Ninety-six percent associated with negative, toxic individuals. You are only going to succeed in life if you surround yourself with the right type of people.”
5. Watching too much TV
- Flickr / Keirsten Marie
“Seventy-seven percent of the poor in my study watched more than an hour of TV every day,” Corley writes. “Sixty-seven percent of the self-made millionaires in my study watched less than an hour of TV every day.”
The rich would rather be educated than entertained. They replace TV time with reading, thinking, exercising, or any other form of self-education.
“Making productive use of time is a hallmark of self-made millionaires,” Corley says. “Wasting time is a hallmark of poor people.”
6. Negative thinking
- Getty/Dennis Grombkowski
“Long-term success is only possible when you have a positive mental outlook,” Corley states.
The problem for most people is that they’re completely unaware of their thoughts, positive or negative, he explains: “If you stop to listen to your thoughts, to be aware of them, you’d find most of them are negative. But you only realize you are having these negative thoughts when you force yourself to be aware of them. Awareness is the key.”
Procrastination “prevents even the most talented individuals from realizing success in life,” Corley writes.
This goes hand-in-hand with author Napoleon Hill’s assertion that the wealthiest people are also the most decisive people.
“Whether you realize it or not, procrastination is a big reason why you are struggling financially in life. It damages your credibility with employers and fellow colleagues at work. It also affects the quality of your work and this affects the business you or your employer receives from customers, clients, and business relationships.”
8. Avoiding feedback
“Fear of criticism is the reason we do not seek feedback from others,” Corley writes. “But feedback is essential to learning what is working and what isn’t working. Feedback helps you understand if you are on the right track. Seeking criticism, good or bad, is a crucial element for learning and growth.”
Additionally, it allows you to change course and experiment with a new career or business. As Corley says, “Feedback provides you with the information you will need in order to succeed in any venture.”
- Getty Images
Spending more than you make is a surefire road to financial stress.
“Ninety-five percent of the poor in my study did not save and most accumulated debt to subsidize their standard of living,” Corley reports. “Consequently, they have no money for retirement, for their kids’ college, or for pursuing opportunities that present themselves.”
Spending more than you make and putting saving on the back burner “creates long-term poverty, with no hope of escape,” he writes.
10. Keeping a job you hate
- Allan Rotgers/flickr
Toiling away at a job you hate will not only leave you stressed out and dissatisfied with life, it could affect your chances at getting rich.
The wealthiest, most successful people pursue their passions. Passion trumps education, intelligence, skills, and “any other advantage those who lack passion might have in life,” Corley emphasizes.
“Passion makes work fun. Passion gives you the energy, persistence, and focus needed to overcome failures, mistakes, and rejection. It infuses you with a fanatical tenacity that makes it possible to overcome obstacles and pitfalls that block your path.”
11. Sticking to your comfort zone
- Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty
“We so desire to blend in, to acclimate to society, to be a part of the herd, that we will do almost anything to avoid standing out in a crowd,” Corley writes. Yet “failure to separate yourself from the herd is why most people never achieve success.”
While the average person finds peace of mind in familiarity, and hesitates to leave their comfort zone, rich people find comfort in uncertainty.
“The pursuit of wealth requires that you take risks. Most don’t, and that’s why most are not wealthy.”