By adjusting small habits and behaviors every day, we’re one step closer to financial wellness—so why wait for tomorrow?
In today’s society, everyone wants to have the financial know-how to develop an actionable plan that helps them work toward financial wellness.
One of the best ways to do that is to examine the wealthy themselves—what everyday routines do they participate in? How can you use similar strategies to develop your own financial literacy, and ultimately take control of your life?
If you read the recent article on habit stacking, then you know it makes sense that forming multiple habits helps build a solid foundation when making good financial choices. So, let’s take a look at some of the most common lifestyle habits of those who have achieved financial wellness themselves—the answers may surprise you.
They set clear goals.
If you don’t identify your goals, you won’t have a clear picture of what you’re attempting to achieve and how to get there. That’s not to say, however, that making a ton of goals is necessarily the best usage of time and energy.
The billionaire businessman Warren Buffett once asked his pilot to make a list of his top 25 goals, and circle the five he deemed most important to him. He then advised the man to avoid working on any of the goals not circled at all costs, and to focus every effort on achieving just those five things.
Try making a “not-to-do” list of your own, by isolating the five most crucial goals or milestones (i.e. paying off a credit card or buying a house) and outline what steps you’ll need to take to get there by what time.
They wake up early.
Most people have heard the saying “the early bird gets the worm”. It’s certainly true of business leaders like Tim Cook, Richard Branson, and Bob Iger. These CEOs and entrepreneurs are up oftentimes at 5 a.m. or earlier, reading, meditating, or exercising. Getting a head start on the day means that you can be better prepared to field emails, eat breakfast, deal with problems, and just generally feel more productive and proactive than those around you.
You definitely don’t have to get up at 3 a.m. like The Rock, but try to gradually adjust your sleep cycle to allow you more time in the day before work or obligations start. Forming the habit will help empower you to take on your day to day life on your own terms.
They make healthy choices.
Eating right and pursuing fitness can be made easier by carving out more time in the day, like in the tip above, but healthy habits in general are also indicative of success in other areas. Exercise helps with schedule and goal setting, strengthens cognitive ability and self-esteem, and inspires healthy competition.
Many Fortune 500 companies have on-site exercise facilities for these reasons—regular physical activity makes for a driven, energized, and ambitious workforce. Even if there’s no gym on site, a lot of companies provide some sort of fitness based incentive, and you can even save paying for a membership of your own by downloading a workout app to use at home or outdoors.
Food also has a direct impact on cognitive performance. The Harvard Business Review writes that because everything we eat is converted into glucose, or the energy our brains need to stay sharp, we often make poor eating decisions prior to lunch. This leads to eating foods high in fats, carbs, or sugar that keep us full in the short term, but take a ton of energy to process, leaving us drained and unfocused.
It’s better to make a habit of making your eating decisions before you actually get hungry. Think ahead by packing a balanced lunch, bringing fresh produce to work, and spread out eating throughout the day to avoid the highs and lows that lead to poor performance.
They stay two steps ahead.
The late Steve Jobs was quoted as having said “I think if you do something pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long, just figure out what’s next”. Those who are successful in life know that part of the game is continuing that success, constantly being able to innovate and iterate on an idea. Staying present is important to keep your goals on track, but being able to see ahead and know where you’re going is also key.
Don’t be afraid to bet on your success. Use your aspirations, skills, and potential that you have right now and project that into the future. Where do you want to be two years from now? Ten years from now?
They know the difference between “needs” and “wants”.
Of course, it’s no fun, but learning to say no to short term gratification is something financially successful people learn pretty early on. The longer you live hand-over-fist, the harder it becomes to break that cycle. Take a long, critical look at your current lifestyle. This will help you figure out what changes you can make to start saving up for milestone purchases or life events, like retirement. Small changes in a spending routine, like cutting back on the nights out, can add up to a lot of money saved away for future endeavors.
It’s clear that healthy behaviors have a direct correlation to financial literacy and empowerment. In a time where young people are feeling increasingly overwhelmed by the burdens of debt, savings, and future life planning, getting “on track” has become perceptively more elusive. By adjusting small habits and behaviors every day, we’re one step closer to financial wellness—so why wait for tomorrow?
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While Society of Grownups hopes the information is useful, it’s only intended to provide general education. It’s not legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation. If you need recommendations geared to your personal financial situation, schedule time with a financial planner.