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I’m a millionaire. Go on…say it out loud to yourself. Feels good, doesn’t it? Most people worship the millionaire status even if they aren’t money-oriented; there is still an attraction to being one. But it’s worth understanding the notion of what being a millionaire is actually like, before embarking upon a journey towards that life. So here are five lessons learned from self-made millionaires.
Before we get going, let me say that some of these lessons are my own. By mid-twenties, I had already built and lost two multi-million dollar fortunes. Things got very bleak and very dark for me at one stage. Suffice it to say, I’ve been through the mill and come out the other side. But, I have since rebuilt my fortunes on much sturdier ground. I am a millionaire, but I have achieved that as a consequence rather than an aim.
Anyway, enough about me. Let’s have a look at these five lessons learned from self-made millionaires.
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1. Having a million dollars in the bank doesn’t automatically make you an abundant person
This is a huge rule for many people. A million dollars is a line in the sand. It’s a rubicon to cross, and on the other side lies happiness and stability, right? The problem with this approach is it doesn’t give any thought to your character with that money. If you don’t work on yourself, having a million dollars will not magically change your charisma, character traits and personality.
Millionaires can be just as stingy with their finances as the rest of us. So if you’re attracted to the freedom and joy that a million dollars would bring you, make that your aim. Not the money.
2. Money is not the root of all evil.
I don’t know if you’re like me, but I grew up in a Christian and conservative household. My parents immigrated to the United Kingdom from Zimbabwe before having kids, bringing their anti-consumerist values along.
Now in some sense, they were right. Money is not going to solve you. You have to solve you. But a million dollars will also not turn you into some mustache-twirling, evil genius. Our western society has latched onto the belief that a millionaire is a modern-day boogeyman. But, at the same time, our society also worships millionaires.
Money itself has no moral compass. It is merely a facilitator. It will amplify who you are, so I suggest you get that in check first.
Related: 6 Money Management Tips for First-Time Entrepreneurs
3. Time is more valuable than money
This may sound like a tone-deaf proposition if you’re someone with a lot of stress around money because you don’t have enough or have to work hard to obtain it.
But it’s true. A significant factor in people becoming a millionaire is achieving the lifestyle they actually wanted. They just assumed they needed to be a millionaire to experience it. Then they realize that they don’t want to sacrifice any more of their time.
Ask any millionaire what they pay the most for personally, and you’ll probably find it a time-saving good or service. Personally: I pay for first-class travel. Yes, because I like the luxurious nature of it, but more than that, the ability to skip queues and get more work done on a flight saves me a tremendous amount of time. I have a maid and a nanny and pay others to help run my day-to-day operations. This allows me to operate efficiently and stops me from taking my time with administrative tasks.
I (and my clients) value my time. It would help if you were mindful of that in any business. You will need support from others. There are not enough hours in the day to do it all yourself (which makes a mockery of the whole “self-made” thing).
Related: The 5 Qualities of Superior Entrepreneurs
4. Find a mentor
This can not be overstated. To reiterate the last point: your time is precious. It’s the one commodity they aren’t making any more of. Having a mentor helps you skip a lot of trial & error.
Nobody is really “self-made.” We all stand on the shoulders of giants in one way or another, so make sure you’re standing on the shoulders of the tallest giant you can find! You’ll make more progress towards your financial and business goals in one phone call or lunch meeting than in a decade of trying to figure it out yourself. Trust me.
5. Practice gratitude
Gratitude is such a massive practice. It’s one of the most effective ways to change your experience and costs nothing! Your subconscious is hardwired to look for things that support the status quo and ultimately keep you safe. To that end, the reticular activating system filters out irrelevant information. This is how you’re able to hunt and run from danger.
Or, to give that a modern context: when you go into a Starbucks, you’re consumed by the menu boards and not what the guy in the corner is wearing. Your subconscious simply seeks to maintain the status quo: it hasn’t killed you. That’s how basic the programming is, but bearing in mind this is the oldest part of your brain, it’s running on ‘pre-intellect software.’
This doesn’t mean that it can not be re-programmed, however. You must learn to code in its language, also known as emotional energy. If you can start to drip feed evidence to it, that a new situation is not only safe but also desirable. It will begin to help you look for more of it. Gratitude is one of the most incredible hacks for this.
By practicing gratitude (i.e., actively looking for things to be grateful for in every scenario, no matter how small), you’re essentially hacking your subconscious. You’re polluting your environment with gratitude, which will begin to snowball into success. This will help you in your growth journey because you’ll realize (as I and many others before me have) that a million dollars can’t give you a life to be grateful for.
Only you can do that.