The #1 Factor That Makes Poor People Rich


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It’s easy to fix the blame for poverty on society or the government or tax policy or Wall Street or, well, you fill in the blank.

What’s not easy is to look in the mirror at the real cause.

Sometimes we need a dose of reality to shake us from our excuses.

If no poor person on the face of the earth ever rose from poverty to wealth, you might have a case that it’s impossible to become rich if you were born and raised poor.

But, reality paints a very different picture. There are thousands of poor people every day who become rich. According to Forbes Magazine, just in America, there are approximately 1,700 working class people a day who become millionaires.

And, according to my own Rich Habits study, 41% of the 177 self-made millionaires I studied were born and raised in poverty.

What was the #1 factor that helped them shake off the chains of poverty and become wealthy?

Changing their daily habits.

Changing your habits can be hard, especially if you don’t know how. If you read my book Change Your Habits Change Your Life, you know the shortcuts to habit change.

Here are some of those short-cuts, straight out of my book:

Habit Merging

Think of an existing habit (existing neural pathway) as a train on a track, except it’s inside your brain. If you add your new habit to that same train, as if it were a new passenger, the brain won’t put up a fight because you’re not trying to take control of the train or the track. You’re just taking a ride. When an old habit does not perceive a new habit as a threat, it does not wage war against the formation of the new habit.

Here’s how it works: Let’s say you want to add a new Rich Habit of reading 30 minutes every day for self-education and let’s say you have an old habit of exercising aerobically on the stair master 30 minutes every day. If you were to put a book on the stair master and read that book while you’re exercising, you will, almost immediately, form a new joint habit that sticks. The trigger for the habit will be the book on your stair master. Here’s another example: If you have an old habit of drinking coffee every day and you want to add a new Rich Habit of drinking a glass of water every day, you will put your coffee cup on a water cooler or in your sink or in your refrigerator, next to the water bottle. When your brain tells you it’s time to drink coffee, you will, initially, search for your coffee cup. That coffee cup will then become a trigger, reminding you to drink a cup of water. That new joint habit will only take a few days to stick.

Law of Association

Old habits can be triggered by the individuals you associate with. If you are trying to get rid of some old, bad habits you need to limit the time you spend associating with those individuals who act as a trigger for those bad habits and begin associating with individuals who possess the new good habits you are trying to adopt. You can find these new individuals in network groups, non-profit groups, trade groups or any group that is focused on pursuing similar goals. For example, if one of your new goals is to read more, you can join a reading group that meets periodically to discuss books the group reads. Another example would be finding individuals who run, jog or exercise and begin jogging, running or exercising with them. Once you open your eyes to habit change, you will begin to see that there are many individuals who have those same habits. They are all around you. You only begin to notice them after you make a decision to change your daily habits.

Changes in Your Environment

It is much easier to abandon old habits and form new habits when your environment changes. New home, new neighbors, new friends, new job, new colleagues, new cities, etc., all offer an opportunity to forge new habits. When your environment changes, you are forced to think your way through each day. Spoons, knives and forks are no longer where they used to be, so you have to think. Your commute to work is different, so you have to think. Your new responsibilities at work are different, so you have to think. Eventually your brain will force you to develop habits in your new environment in order to make the brain’s job easier.

Start Small

It is far easier to change your habits if you start with small habits. Small habit change involves adding habits that require very little effort. Examples include drinking more water during the day, taking vitamin supplements or listening to audio books while you commute to work. Small habit change also includes cutting back on existing bad habits. Examples include reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke, reduce T.V. watching by thirty minutes each day or reducing Facebook or Internet use to less than an hour a day. The smaller, easier the habit change, the higher the probability that it will stick. Small habit change gives you momentum and increased confidence. This allows you to take on bigger, more complex habit changes in the future.

Schedule Your New Habits

Sixty-seven percent of self-made millionaires in my study maintained a to-do list. To-do lists are a way of processing success into your life. One of the tricks self-made millionaires use is to incorporate certain good daily habits onto their to-do list. These specific daily habits show up automatically, every day, on their to-do lists. This forces accountability. Every day you must be accountable for the new daily habits you are trying to form. If they are simple daily habits, after a few weeks, you won’t need to include them on your to-do list – they will have become habits. You can then move on to other, new daily habits using this to-do list habit process.

Firewall Your Bad Habits

One trick to habit change is to make it harder for you to engage in a bad habit by creating some type of firewall between you and the bad habit. For example, let’s say you eat junk food late at night while watching T.V. You eat that junk food because it’s in your pantry. If it wasn’t in your pantry you wouldn’t be able to eat it. The way to make this bad habit harder to engage in, would be to stop stocking your pantry with junk food and instead stock your pantry with healthy snacks. The habit isn’t eating junk food; the habit is snacking while you watch T.V. Eliminating junk food may stop you from snacking, but more likely, when you sit to watch T.V., the cue, you will default into your routine of seeking a snack. This time, however, the reward will be a different snack, ideally a healthy one or at least a low calorie substitute.

Another bad habit might be spending hours on Facebook at night, after dinner. One way to make this habit harder to engage in would be to turn off your computer, or moving your computer into the basement or disconnecting it from the router. Because it requires exerting some effort to engage in the bad habit, you won’t, if your willpower is weak. And willpower is usually at its weakest at the end of the day.

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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
Email Tom
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  1. Matthias Böhmelt says:

    It’s a recommended book, you have written. Especially the new one „change your habits, change your life. Strategies that transformed 177 average people into self-made millionaires“. On your introduction you write that everyone need three necessary things to master the habit-change strategies: daily growth in skills and knowledge; focus and persistence. Yes, it’s not merely a daytrip.
    With love and confidence of an openminded mother, father or mentor and coach we can grow up the best. Sometimes it’s hard training to leave the comfort zone because of fear and less courage. It’s worthwhile if there is someone you trust, who can take you into his arms, if you make a failure, you feel desperately or hopeless, someone who believes in your growth. Together is better.

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