“The greatest reward in becoming a millionaire is not the amount of money that you earn. It is the kind of person that you have to become to become a millionaire.” — Jim Rohn
Most people wish their circumstances would magically change for them. They don’t have the desire to become better themselves so they can proactively improve their own circumstances.
Unlike most people, who simply wait and wish for luck, you can seek to become the kind of person equipped with the skills and abilities to do brilliant things.
You can become the kind of person who does highly influential work. Your work can solve pressing problems, improve people’s lives, and get noticed by important people who share your work not for your sake, but for theirs! Sharing your work makes them look good because of how great it is.
The quality of who you are as a person, and the work you do, is completely within your control. But you can’t wish for it to happen. You must become the kind of person who naturally attracts the success you seek.
1. Invest at least 10% of your income in yourself
If you don’t pay for something, you rarely pay attention.
Most people want stuff that’s free. But if you get something for free, you rarely prize that thing. You rarely take it seriously.
How much do you invest in yourself?
How committed are you to yourself?
If you aren’t investing in yourself, than you don’t have any skin in the game of your own life.
Ladders is now on SmartNews!
Download the SmartNews app and add the Ladders channel to read the latest career news and advice wherever you go.
If you aren’t invested in your business, you probably won’t do high quality work.
If you’re not invested in your relationships, you’re probably more focused on what you can get than what you can give.
When it comes to self-improvement, investing 10% of your income on yourself will yield a 100X or more return on that investment. For every dollar you spend on your education, skills, and relationships, you’ll get at least 100 dollars back in returns.
If you want to do something extremely well, you need to surround yourself with the right mentors. Anything that you’ll ever do well will be the result of high quality mentoring. If you suck at something, it’s because you haven’t received quality mentoring in that thing.
The best mentorships are the ones where you pay your mentor. Often, the more you pay the better, because you’ll take the relationship far more seriously. You won’t solely be taking in that relationship. You won’t purely be a consumer. Instead, you’ll be invested, and as such, you’ll listen more carefully. You’ll care more. You’ll be more thoughtful and engaged. There will be higher consequences for not succeeding.
I invested $3,000 to get help writing my first book proposal from a highly successful writer. That $3,000 got me maybe 4 or 5 hours of his time. But in those 4 or 5 hours, he taught me what I needed to know to create an amazing book proposal. He provided me resources that dramatically enhanced and sped up my process. With his help, I was able to get a literary agent and eventually a multi, six-figure book contract.
Had I been overly concerned about the $3,000, I’m confident that to this day, I’d still not have written a book proposal. At the very most, I’d have written a terrible one. I would not have been as motivated or invested, so I would have been far more likely to procrastinate needed action.
If you don’t have much money, surely you can afford to buy a book. How much money and time do you spend on entertainment, clothes, or food? It’s a matter of priority.
It’s only when you invest in something that you have the motivation to make it happen.
Beyond mentorships, you should invest in education programs such as online courses, books, quality products such as food and sleep.
Your level of success can generally be directly measured by your level of investment. If you’re not getting the results you want, it’s because you haven’t invested enough to get those results.
Your number 1 investment must be yourself.
Who you are determines:
- the quality of marriage you’ll have
- the quality of parent you become
- the quality of work you produce
- the level of happiness you have
Here’s what you’ll find when you financially invest yourself in something. You become very committed to that thing. Economists call this sunk cost bias. But you can leverage this to your benefit. If you want to escalate your personal commitment to something, invest heavily in that thing.
Eventually, it will become a point of no return.
You’ll become so fiercely committed that withdrawing will seem ridiculous.
Hence, you’ll need to truly know WHAT you want and WHY (see #14 below). If you don’t know these things, then over-committing could be a huge and irrational problem.
However, if you are certain about WHO you are/want to be, WHAT you want, and WHY, then you need to invest yourself.
2. Invest at least 80% of your “off” time into learning
Most people are consumers rather than creators.
They are at work to get their paycheck, not to make a difference.
When left to their own devices, most people consume their time as well. It is only by investing your time that you get a return on that time.
Nearly every second spent on social media is consumed time. You can’t have that time back. Rather than making your future better, it actually made your future worse. Just like eating bad food, every consumed moment leaves you worse off. Every invested moment leaves you better off.
Entertainment is all well and good. But only when that entertainment is an investment in your relationships or yourself. You’ll know if it was an investment if that entertainment continues to yield returns over and over in your future. That may include positive memories, transformational learning, or deepened relationships.
Even still, life isn’t purely about being entertained. Education and learning is also key. And although both are essential, education will provide far greater returns in your future.
The world’s most successful people are intense learners. They are hard readers. They know that what they know determines how well they see the world. They know that what they know determines the quality of relationships they can have and the quality of work they can do.
If you are constantly consuming junk media, how can you possibly expect to create high value work? Your input directly translates to your output. Garbage in, garbage out.
3. Don’t work for money, work to learn
“When you are young, work to learn, not to earn.” — Robert Kiyosaki
Just as a large majority of your downtime should be spent learning, so should a great deal of your “working” time.
Wealthy and happy people work to learn. Unsuccessful and unhappy people work primarily for money.
Only 20% of your energy should be spent doing your actual work. The rest should be spent learning, improving yourself, and resting.
It is by “sharpening your saw” that you’ll continue to become a better and more capable person. Thus, as you dedicate large portions of time becoming a better thinker, communicator, and better at your craft, the quality of your work will continue to increase. Eventually, you’ll be able to charge VERY VERY high fees for your work, because no one else can do it like you.
When you prioritize learning and recovery, then during the hours you are actually working, you’ll be in a deep flow state. You won’t be distracted like most people are when they work. You’re either 100% on or 100% off. While working, you can get more done in a few hours than most people get done in a number of days.
Your time is spent well because your priorities are clear, you’re well-rested, and your mind is stimulated.
4. Don’t learn for entertainment, learn to create more value
“The key secret to success is not excessive expertise, but the ability to use it. Knowledge is worthless unless it is applied.” — Max Lukominskyi
In our media and information age, there are a million things you could learn. But if you don’t put that learning into immediate practice, it becomes shallow information.
Information and knowledge are two very different things.
Knowledge and wisdom are also two very different things.
It takes wisdom to determine what you should learn, why you should learn it, and when you should learn it.
Unless you’re invested, you probably won’t learn with the intensity needed to maximize that knowledge.
Unless you understand the value of your time, you probably won’t have the discernment to ignore almost everything while learning that which will bring the highest return.
When you learn something, you should get a return on that learning. Far too many people read books now just to say they’ve read lots of books. If you’re not applying what you’re learning, your consuming and wasting your time.
5. Invest at least 10% of your income into vehicles that will generate more money
Very few people create true wealth.
Even those who have high incomes are not truly wealthy. Most people’s lifestyles match their incomes. When they make more, they consume more. In fact, most people make money solely to consume.
Very few people make money to invest that money.
It’s best to think of your business as only 1/2 of your income equation. You have your business which brings income. Then, you have your investment entity to turn your income into even more money.
Like anything, how well you manage your money is determined by how well mentored you are. If you want to become brilliant with money, invest in education and mentoring.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The best time to start investing was also in the past. If you haven’t started yet, don’t sit and wallow in regret. Tomorrow doesn’t exist for people who don’t do something today.
Start today. Get yourself educated. Create a vehicle, or several vehicles, where you put at least 10% of your income. Eventually, your investment vehicle may even start producing more profits for you than your actual business.
Compound interest is a real thing. If you put 10% of your income into your investments over a long enough period of time, you’ll be set. Unlike the majority of high earners out there, you’ll be able to STOP WORKING whenever you want, because your money is making more than enough money for you to comfortably live with.
6. Shift your motivation from getting to giving
“The world gives to the givers and takes from the takers.” — Joe Polish
Most people are only focused on what they can get out of life.
Me, me, me.
However, once you become more consciously awake to the world, your desire will shift from merely receiving to giving.
You’ll realize that it’s actually far more satisfying to give than to get.Moreover, you’ll be driven by a cause you fully believe in.
The truth is, you really only have 1 of 2 orientations towards people (and life).
Either you are in relationships as TRANSACTIONS, or as TRANSFORMATIONS.
Most people have transactional relationships. They’re focused only on what they get out of the relationship. It’s all about furthering their own agenda. It’s rooted in scarcity. It’s selfish.
This isn’t how you get far in relationships and life.
It’s also how you get stuck in your own small-mindedness.
Transformational relationships, on the other hand, are completely focused on giving and gratitude — the hallmarks of abundance. In these relationships, the whole becomes more than the sum of parts. Both parties, in vulnerability and trust, transcend their own small-mindedness and become something more.
At the core, this requires being a giver, not a taker. As Adam Grant has explained in his book, Give and Take, when two givers come together, the results are astronomical.
Here’s a pro-tip: don’t surround yourself with takers.
When your motivation is to give, you’ll often get insights about how you can improve your relationships. Random thoughts will pop into you head to send “Thank you” texts to various people.
You’ll have more ideas about how you can improve other people’s lives and businesses.
You’ll start contributing more, which will lead to far more opportunities and deeper relationships. People will come to love and trust you. Your work will be motivated by a higher cause and thus will be far more inspired and impactful.
7. Openly acknowledge how dependent you are on other people
Just because your primary motivation is to give, doesn’t mean you don’t also seek a lot of help.
Actually, you are constantly seeking and receiving help.
The truth is, everyone is highly dependent on other people to do what they do. But it takes wisdom and humility to openly acknowledge that dependence. Rather than seeing it as a weakness, realize that it’s a strength.
Beyond acknowledging your dependence, constantly express your appreciation to the people in your life. That which you appreciate, appreciates. Relationships are assets that can and should grow bigger and better over time. As the brilliant entrepreneur Michael Fishman has said, “Self-made is an illusion. There are many people who played divine roles in you having the life that you have today. Be sure to let them know how grateful you are.”
If you don’t appreciate and give to your relationships, your relationships will suffer. All relationships are like bank accounts, and if one person is constantly depositing and the other person is constantly withdrawing, eventually all of the resources become depleted.
In such relationships, 1+1=less than 2.
Conversely, in synergistic and healthy relationships, 1+1= far more than 2. When two people are continually giving and receiving, the relational bank account continues to grow and expand, providing several intended and unintended benefits.
For example, I was recently at the gym with my brother. At the beginning of the workout, he was struggling mentally. He wasn’t adding to my energy and helping my workout become better than if I was alone, but instead, he was sucking my energy and requiring me to exert more energy and effort than if I was alone.
I made him aware of what was happening, and he immediately shifted his emotional posture. He realized how dramatically his mood was impacting me. His motivation shifted from consuming an experience to creating something great.
Our shared mental state heightened, taking us into group flow. Our workout become far superior to anything I could create on my own. Not only that, but we began to engage in inspired conversation. This led to brilliant insights and connections that were relevant to the book I’m writing.
The amazing workout was the intended outcome of our synergy. The insights for my book were unintended benefits. This can only happen when both parties are actively giving and receiving from the relationship. Where both are focusing on creating rather than consuming. Where both have the primary motivation of helping the other person succeed.
8. Create win-win strategic partnerships to achieve 10x or 100x goals
“All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition.” — Peter Thiel
Most people are in a state of competition rather than collaboration.
Collaboration is a much higher level than competition.
Competition is focused on the self. It’s also very low level thinking, because what you can do on your own is very limited.
People who are competing are grinding. They’re more focused on winning than creating real solutions.
However, when your thinking becomes expanded, you realize you could do so much more with other people. Collaboration creates unique connections working by yourself never could.
You have skills and knowledge that are awesome in your field. There are other people in different fields who have skills and knowledge completely outside of your current awareness. These people also have assets you don’t have.
If you want to get 10X or 100X the results of other people in your field, you need to develop strategic “win-win” partnerships. This generally happens when you devise a plan where your skill sets and assets merge with the skill sets and assets of someone else.
What you can do well, someone else may struggle with. What you struggle with, others can do extremely well.
Who can you partner with that could speed your process?
Who has assets and resources you don’t?
How could you help these people?
What types of partnerships could you develop, that would allow you to more quickly achieve your goals and help them more quickly achieve theirs?
When you collaborate with other people, 1+1=more than 2. The whole becomes DIFFERENT from the sum of it’s parts.
This is how TRANSFORMATION occurs. Only those who engage in collaboration actually experience true transformation. People who only work well by themselves are stuck in their own narrow worldview and agendas.
When you merge with others, your ideas and goals change. They become bigger and better. They become DIFFERENT from what you could ever create on your own.
The only way to have these types of partnerships is to think long-term. You must be invested and have skin in the game. It can’t be transactional. It’s can’t be this for that. It must be about something a lot deeper. When it is, you’ll have far more integrity in the work you do. You’ll express greater appreciation. You’ll consistently do the right thing, even if that right thing is difficult and uncomfortable.
Don’t seek transactional relationships. Only seek long-term TRANSFORMATIONAL relationships.
9. Set 10x goals and face your fears
Look at your current goals.
Why is that your metric for “success”?
Why is that your target?
What would happen if, in all seriousness, you 10X’d that target?
What if rather than earning $3,000/month, you pursued $30,000/month?
Is that even possible?
Of course it’s possible. There’s several people doing it.
The only difference between them and you is their education, relationships, and strategy.
When you set a 10X goal, you’re required to think very differently about your daily behaviors. You’re required to be more serious in all aspects of your life. You’re required to eliminate limiting thinking and consumptive distractions.
Setting a 10X goal will be one of the best things you’ve ever done for yourself. This goal should be created while you are in a peak state. You get into a peak state by doing something powerful, whether that be exercising, learning, or being in a unique environment, such as a foreign country. You can even get into a peak state by being around certain types of people, the ones who inspire you to be the best version of yourself.
Only you know what gets you into a peak and passionate state. So, do whatever it is that gets you there, and then write down your goals. Declare what you’re going to do. Then write that goal down and visualize it’s achievement every single day until it becomes your reality.
When you think about this goal, don’t deviate from the natural flow of ideas that follow.
You can’t 10X your results by engaging in the same thinking and behaviors you’re currently performing. Consequently, while thinking about your goal, you’ll also get ideas about what you need to do, realistically, to achieve that goal.
Chances are, you don’t know what you don’t know. So you’ll need to start really educating yourself about how you could conceivably achieve your goal.You’ll need to get bolder about the work you’re doing. You’ll need to create more, and fail more. Over and over, in fact. Quantity is often the fastest path to quality.
Not only that, but when you think about your 10X goal, you’ll probably have ideas that scare you. When you do work that scares you, you cross a boundary that most people never cross. Scary work is often highly profitable and valuable work.
10. Get really really good at marketing
Marketing is nothing more than applied psychology.
It’s about connecting with people, persuading them, and helping them.
Many people think marketing is a nasty or immoral thing.
Many “artists” don’t learn marketing because they don’t want to “sell out.” They want their work to be pure.
Academics are not better. Their work is not accessible to the common man.
Marketing is nothing more than making your work easier and better to find and use.
People aren’t magically going to appear and buy your stuff.
People aren’t going to magically appear and read your stuff.
Even right now: How did you land on this page? Look at the title of this article. I could have just as easily called it, “Advice for becoming successful.”
But would you have clicked on that article?
But you clicked on this one.
Why did you click on this one?
How did you get this far down?
Think about the experience.
Marketing is the “HOW” to whatever it is you do.
The reason most people aren’t successful is because they either fear or avoid marketing. For the same reason, most people are bad teachers. They’re more focused on content than the delivery and design of that content.
But the delivery — the HOW — is just as important IF NOT MORE IMPORTANT than WHAT you’re doing or WHY you’re doing it.
You could have the cure for cancer. But if you don’t market it well, you’ll never get your cure out there.
You could have the world’s most important message, or greatest story, but no one will see it if you don’t promote and package it intelligently.
11. Don’t focus on time and effort, focus on results instead
Founder of the exclusive entrepreneurial coaching platform, Strategic Coach, Dan Sullivan distinguishes between those who are in the “Time-and-Effort Economy” with those who are in the “Results Economy.”
If you’re in the time and effort economy, you are focused on being busy. You actually believe the amount of time and energy you put into something merits praise. Conversely, when you are in the results economy, you are only focused on achieving a specific result.
The bottom line is what matters, and thus, it becomes very important to find the most effective way to get there. This is a key difference between entrepreneurs and employees. As Sullivan says:
Entrepreneurs have crossed “the risk line” from the “Time-and-Effort Economy” to the “Results Economy.” For them, there’s no guaranteed income, no one writing them a paycheck every two weeks. They live by their ability to generate opportunity by creating value for their clientele. Sometimes, they — and you — will put in a lot of time and effort and get no result. Other times, they don’t put in much time and effort and get a big result. The focus for entrepreneurs always has to be on results or there’s no revenue coming in. If you work for an entrepreneur, guess what! This is true for you, too. Though you probably have a guaranteed income, it’s important to understand that the business you work in exists inside The Results Economy, even if you’re sheltered somewhat from seeing that. I say this not to make you feel insecure, but to show you how to succeed in this environment: by maximizing your results while minimizing the time and effort it takes to get them.
Most people don’t think in terms of results because their security is in a paycheck. However, when you shift your focus from how little you can do to how much you can do, you change how you work.
You start learning ways to accomplish more faster. You take on greater responsibility. You change your environment. And you also realize just how important sleep and rest are to achieving the highest possible results. Hence, you begin to take more and more time off and rest.
When you dedicate 80 percent of your energy to rest and self-improvement, then you have a lot of fodder and a very sharp saw to use during the time you’re actually working.
You’re thinking 10X bigger than everyone else. You’re operating under short timelines and high pressure. You can tax yourself to extremes while you work because you spend lots and lots of time resting and preparing.
12. Shift your environments regularly
The environments you work in should reflect the work you’re doing.
Doing several types of work in the same environment is ineffective. But people do it all the time. They sit in the same seat and mentally shift from one task to another.
A far better approach is to BATCH your activities and to do those activities in a relevant environment.
For example, when I write a blog post, I work in a quiet library where I have no distractions. Because my environment facilitates quality writing, and because I knew I’d be writing that day, I write a lot. It’s easier to write 2–5 blog posts in one sitting than to try writing one post at a time.
Ari Meisel, author and entrepreneur, batches his activities and alternates his environments to match the work he’s doing. On days he is recording podcasts, he goes to a studio and records about 5 podcast episodes in a single session.
On other days, he spends his whole day in meetings or on calls. He does this work at his friend’s apartment because it’s a much more engaging environment.
He also does a lot of writing, and does that at the SOHO HOUSE in New York City, because it’s a quiet environment with poor internet connection. The lack of connection stops him from surfing the web and even using his phone, because he has bad reception.
13. Define “wealth” and “success” for yourself
Success and wealth are not all about money.
There are a lot of people who have money and have little “capital” in the other key areas of their lives.
Money, obviously, is very important. It solves a lot of problems. It’s speeds processes.
But money is a tool. It’s a means to an end. For those engaging in work they truly believe in, money is simply a tool for doing more work.
14. Know and operate from your deepest “why”
What is your WHY for what you’re doing or pursuing?
How could you possibly know your why?
More importantly, how could you know your REAL WHY?
It’s actually quite simple.
But it takes some radical honestly.
There’s an exercise I’ll walk you through to get to your WHY. And more importantly, once you know your deepest WHY for what you’re doing, you should operate FROM THAT STATE, not from your lower and base-level reasons.
When trying to understand why you do something, it’s better to ask “What” questions then “Why” questions, because “Why” questions tend to put people on the defensive.
Here’s a solid question you could ask yourself to understand your WHY.
What about ______________ is important to you?
Let’s say you want to start a business, or get a new cellphone, or go to the gym …
It could be big or small.
But put that thing in there.
What about “going to the gym” is important to you?
Then, you just write the first thing that comes to your mind: because I like feeling good.
Then you take your answer, and put it in the same question: What about ______________ is important to you?
So, given the previous answer: What about “feeling good” is important to you?
A simple way to structure this exercise is shown in the images just below.
So, you want to try to go 7-layers deep. Once you get to layers 5, 6, and 7, you’re going to have to be really honest with yourself.
Usually, you can answer layers 1–4 with your head. However, if you’re being really honest with yourself, and I mean REALLY HONEST, you’ll need to come from your heart to answer layers 5–7.
It’s at the deepest levels that you’ll discover your TRUE WHY for what you’re doing. Even if that something is as simple as getting a new cellphone or going to the gym.
But you want to remind yourself of your DEEPEST WHY when you’re doing something. And you want to operate from THAT LEVEL, because at your deepest level, you’ll be operating from your heart, not your head. Thus, your performance will be much deeper, more authentic, and powerful.
The stakes will be higher.
Suddenly, you’re not just going to the gym to “feel good,” but because you have a higher calling to perform and need to be as healthy as possible to make it happen (or whatever your deepest WHY is).
Your DEEPEST why will almost always expose something very personal about you, and about your fundamental beliefs about life.
You want to be aware of these things, and how/why they drive you to do what you’re doing.
If you truly go through this exercise in a genuine way, you should get some mental and emotional breakthroughs.
You should discover something about yourself, and why you are the way you are, and why you’re pursuing the specific things you are.
Know your why.
Then act from the DEEPEST and most powerful WHY you have.
You’ll be far more brilliant at what you do.
15. Have a firm stand, it becomes your brand
In order to be successful, you must believe in something.
You must have a stand.
All successful people and brands have a clear WHY. As Simon Sinek explains in his book, Start With Why, people don’t buy what you sell, they buy why you sell it.
Apple is a great example. In all of their marketing, they don’t explain the technicalities of their products, they define and share their core values. They believe technology should be both easy to use and cool.
If you want to be compelling and interesting, you must truly believe in something. You must have a clear stand. That stand becomes your brand. It becomes your trademark. It becomes how you distinguish yourself from others.
When you have a clear stand and brand, you stand out. You are no longer neutral. You believe in something, and are fighting to make a specific change.
As a result, people will either love you or hate you. That’s what you want. Lukewarm means you have nothing to say. Lukewarm means you’re trying to appeal to everyone.
The riches are in the niches. Your niche is your audience. They are a small group of people who agree with the stand you’re trying to make. They are your evangelists.
If you try to appeal to everyone, your message, marketing, and products will be terrible. You won’t be clear on your why, and neither will anyone else. Thus, you’ll be average like everyone else and your work won’t stand out.
Only people with firm stands get really really good at marketing. They care enough about their message to get it out there. They realize that the HOW is just as important as the WHAT and WHY.
Are you doing these 15 things?
How aggressively are you doing them?
Do you want to become a multi-millionaire?
Are you ready to think and act bigger?
You’ve got this.
This article originally appeared on Medium.