A timeless 6-step guide to getting rich, according to a 79-year-old personal finance classic

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Nearly a century ago, journalist Napoleon Hill set out to uncover the key to wealth. He studied more than 500 self-made millionaires over a span of 20 years, and his research culminated in what would become a timeless personal finance classic: “Think and Grow Rich.”

He boiled down 13 steps anyone can take to get rich, the first, most important step being desire. As Hill wrote, “All achievement, no matter what may be its nature or its purpose, must begin with an intense, burning desire for something definite.”

In one passage, he sums up six “definite, practical steps” to turning a desire for wealth into “its financial equivalent.”

Lucky for you, “The steps call for no ‘hard labor,'” Hill emphasizes. “But the successful application of these six steps does call for sufficient imagination to enable one to see and to understand that the accumulation of money cannot be left to chance, good fortune, and luck.”

Here is Hill’s 6-step guide, in his words and ours:


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Establish precise wealth goals

“First. Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire,” Hill writes. “It is not sufficient merely to say ‘I want plenty of money.’ Be definite as to the amount.”

Action step: The first step to achieving anything is to figure out exactly what it is you’re after. Visualize a savings goal with a specific price tag. It could be a vacation home, more wealth, graduate school, or being able to travel.


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“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas Edison
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Commit to pursuing your goals relentlessly

“Second. Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the money you desire,” Hill writes. “There is no such reality as ‘something for nothing.'”

Action step: As Hill emphasizes, “Wishing will not bring riches.” You have to commit to attaining wealth, which takes precise goals, sacrifice, a lot of effort, and persistence in the face of failure.

“Thomas Edison dreamed of a lamp that could be operated by electricity,” Hill points out. “And despite more than ten thousand failures, he stood by that dream until he made it a physical reality. Practical dreamers do not quit!”


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Set a time frame to achieve your goals

“Third. Establish a definite date when you intend to possess the money you desire,” Hill writes.

Action step: Come up with a finish line for your wealth and money goals. Be realistic when setting a time frame to attain these goals, but at the same time, think big and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself, encourages self-made millionaire T. Harv Eker.


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Come up with an organized plan and take action

“Fourth. Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action,” writes Hill.

Action step: Do you know your net worth? Do you know what your assets, liabilities, and expenses are? What about your investments, or to whom you owe money?

Start by addressing those questions. Next, form a financial plan and determine exactly where you want your money to go.

Finally, get started on achieving your goals immediately – within 48 hours, financial adviser David Bach says in his book, “Smart Couples Finish Rich: “By taking this sort of specific immediate action, my goal becomes even more real to me and thus even more exciting.”


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Write everything down

“Fifth. Write out a clear, concise statement of the amount of money you intend to acquire, name the time limit for its acquisition, state what you intend to give in return for the money, and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it,” Hill writes.

Action step: Write down your goals and financial plan in a notebook. If you’re not a pen-to-paper kind of person, you can always type them up and print them out. Put them somewhere accessible, where you’ll see and be reminded of them each day.

“People who write down their financial goals get rich. It’s a fact,” David Bach writes in “Smart Couples Finish Rich. “Study after study has shown that writing down your goals makes it much more likely that you’ll achieve them.”


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Use affirmations to reach your goal

“Sixth. Read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once just before retiring at night, and once after arising in the morning,” Hill writes. “As you read, see and feel and believe yourself already in possession of the money.”

Action step: You have to repeat out loud what it is that you want, and how you plan to get it, so you become obsessed with your purpose, Hill explains.

For example, if you aim to save $1 million for retirement by putting away money every week, you would repeat, “I will set aside (however many) dollars this week to have $1 million in retirement savings by my 60th birthday,” as many times as possible each day.

If you’re aiming to repeat your statement twice daily, establish two, set times – one in the morning and one at night – so it becomes an ingrained habit.