3 Surprising Habits of Wealthy People

These habits are simple, cost nothing, and could pay back big. 

How do seemingly ordinary people get rich? What makes the wealthy different from us? It’s easy to write off the differences and assume that wealthy people were born with a silver spoon or got lucky, or bought Amazon stock when it first went public. But there are some common life habits that wealthy people share—and you can get in on, too. Here are three things you can learn from the super-successful and start doing today.

They stay healthy and fit.

Here’s something pretty scary: Less than three percent of Americans meet the basic qualifications of a healthy lifestyle, including optimal diet, daily habits, fitness, and body fat levels.

Thomas J. Stanley, author of The Millionaire Next Door found that self-made millionaires had plenty of healthy habits in common. They sleep an average of 7-1/2 hours a night, rise early (most by 6 a.m.), and exercise an average of 3-1/2 hours per week.

Research supports a correlation between health and wealth: A June 2012 issue of Journal of Labor Research showed that regular exercisers earned 9 percent more than their colleagues. Unfortunately, that rules out most of us—nearly 80 percent of Americans aren’t getting enough exercise for optimal health.

While feeling your best is an obvious performance boost, sports and fitness also cultivate habits that correlate to success. Participating in competitive sports, training for a triathlon, or even simply staying physically fit requires discipline and perseverance. It also cultivates goal setting, creates a coachable mindset, and helps people work with teammates or accountability partners to grow interpersonal skills.

They read. A lot.

Berkshire Hathaway founder Warren Buffett is famous for his mega-fortune, but also well known as a voracious reader. In his younger days, he used to read between 600 and 1000 pages every day.

Buff now spends about 80 percent of his time reading daily. He says, “I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.”

Self-made millionaire Steve Siebold interviewed 1,200 of the world’s wealthiest people to find commonalities, and one trait nearly all of them had in common was extensive reading. And not just stuffy leadership tomes or the Wall Street Journal—they read everything from self-improvement books to autobiographies and beyond. When Elon Musk was asked how he learned to build rockets, he reportedly answered, “I read books.” His recent recommendation? Ignition!: An informal history of liquid rocket propellants by John D. Clark.

Countless studies show that not only does reading imparts knowledge, but it expands your vocabulary, enhances emotional intelligence and empathy, and keeps you mentally sharp—all qualities that help build the qualities and habits supportive of success.

They carve out time to be quiet.

Remember Warren Buffet’s “time to think” requirement? That’s another habit the wealthy cultivate, whether it’s time to walk and ponder, or sit in meditation, or simply be still.

When people are asked why they don’t do the things they know they should (like reading or getting fit), the typical answer is “not enough time.” But the average American adult watches four or more hours of TV every day—plenty of time to train for a marathon AND bag a few chapters of a book (or a whole book). Another one of those “would love to/can’t” seems to be meditation, and yet some of the busiest, most successful people in the world swear by it.

“Meditation, more than anything in my life, was the biggest ingredient of whatever success I’ve had,” Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, told The Huffington Post.

Oprah Winfrey meditates or sits in stillness for 20 minutes twice a day. “Knowing for sure that even in the daily craziness that bombards us from every direction, there is still the constancy of stillness,” Oprah wrote on her website. “Only from that space can you create your best work and best life.”

Other super-successful meditators include David Lynch, Jerry Seinfeld, and Michael Jordan.

Growing wealth isn’t always about being born with a silver spoon, landing a killer job, or getting lucky in the stock market. Using discipline, setting goals, and working with a financial professional to cultivate habits that promote a future-focused life can be game-changing for any of us. To speak with a financial planner about your dreams and financial wellbeing, connect with us at Aspen Wealth Strategies.

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