10 Thinking Habits of Self-Made Millionaires

“Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”
— Thomas Edison

One of the things that stood out from my Rich Habits Study was how important thinking was to self-made millionaires. I tracked ten different types of thinking habits these millionaires engaged in frequently, if not daily. From my research, it was so evident that thinking was fundamental to their success that I decided it needed to become one of the ten Keystone Rich Habits.

When self-millionaires think, they do so in isolation, closed off from the world. Most engaged in their daily thinking habits in the morning, some during their commute in their car, others in the shower, and still others at night. Morning seemed to be the most dominant time frame, however. Typically, immediately upon waking, these self-made millionaires would find a quite space and think. How long? It ranged from fifteen minutes to thirty minutes. What did they think about? Well, they thought about a lot of things and when they thought, they thought in a way that most would refer to as brainstorming. They spent time every day brainstorming with themselves about numerous things. I was able to boil down those brainstorming sessions into ten core Rich Thinking Habit categories. Here they are:

  1. Career – Some of the questions they asked themselves included: What can I do to make more money? How can I increase my value to my clients, customers or my employer? What do I need to do in order to gain more expertise? What additional skills do I need? What things should I be reading more about? Do I like what I do? What do I love to do? Can I make money doing what I love to do? Should I change careers? Should I work more hours? Should I work less hours? Do I work hard enough? Am I lazy? What am I really good at? What am I really bad at? Does my job make me happy?
  2. Finances – Do I spend too much money? Am I saving enough money? Will I have enough to retire on? How much do I need to retire on? Do I have enough set aside for college for my kids? How much do I actually spend each month? Should I create a budget? Should I revise my budget? Am I doing a good job investing our money? Is my spouse doing a good job investing our money? Am I paying too much in taxes? Do I have enough life insurance? Should I set up a trust for my kids?
  3. Family – Do I spend enough time with my family? Can I work less and spend more time with my family? Are we spoiling our kids? Are we too hard on our kids? Can I get away for a vacation this year? Are we doing enough to help our kids succeed? How can I improve my relationship with my spouse, my kids?
  4. Friends – Do I have as many friends as I should? Do I spend enough time with the friends I have? Why don’t I have many friends? How can I make more friends? Is my work interfering too much with my social life? Do I call my friends enough? How often should I stay in touch with my friends? Who haven’t I spoken with in a while? Do I have good friends? How can I end my friendship with so and so? Should I help my friends financially?
  5. Business Relationships – What can I do to improve my business relationships? Am I staying in touch enough with my key customers, clients? How can I develop a business relationship with so and so? Which business relationships should I spend more time on and which ones should I pull away from? Do my customers, clients like me? Do they think I do a good job?
  6. Health – Am I exercising enough? Should I lose more weight? Do I eat too much? Am I eating healthy? Should I get a physical? Should I take vitamins/supplements? I need to get a colonoscopy. Are my arteries clogged? Do I get enough sleep? Do I drink too much? I have to stop smoking. I have to cut back on junk food. I need to eat more vegetables.
  7. Dream-Setting and Goal-Setting – Most of the brainstorming involved their personal, financial, family and career dreams and goals. Dreams of retiring on a beach, buying a boat, expanding their business, buying vacation homes etc.
  8. Problems – Here they brainstormed primarily about finding solutions to those problems that were causing them the most stress at the moment. Most were immediate problems related to their jobs and their family. Some were longer term and related to preempting future potential problems they were anticipating down the road most often related to their careers.
  9. Charity – What other charities can I get involved in? Am I doing enough for my church, business group, synagogue, etc.? How can I best help my community? What can I do to help my grammar school, high school, college, etc? Should I start a scholarship? Should I contribute more money to my school, church etc? Who can I help?
  10. Happiness – Am I happy? What is causing me to be unhappy? How can I eliminate those things that are making me unhappy? Is my spouse happy? Are my kids happy? Are my employees or staff happy? How can I make myself happier? What is happiness? Will I ever be happy? What’s making me so happy?

That’s a lot of thinking I know. There are a lot of days in the year, however, to brainstorm with yourself. You just need to make it a daily habit. Eventually, over time you will come up with solutions to your most pressing problems. You will gain insight into what makes you tick. Daily thinking will help you find some meaning to your life. Making a daily habit of thinking is what self-made millionaires do. It’s an important piece of the success puzzle. Understanding why they do it is less important than understanding that they do do it. Every 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.
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