If you’ve Googled “how to become a millionaire,” even in half jest, you’re one of tens of millions who dream of becoming financially independent, yet may not be sure where to start or whether you have the capacity.
I was in that place, doubting my ability to break through the mental barriers that kept me from my goals. In the early days of becoming financially independent, one of the things I had to work hardest at was creating a better mindset—quieting that negative voice in my head (or the voices of those around me) that injected doubt.
The simple and happy truth is that we are all capable of becoming rich in our own way, and it’s not as daunting a task as many are raised to believe. But first, it’s vital to develop the mindset of a millionaire and to start thinking about financial independence as something already created — all that’s needed is the time and focus required to get there. Here are a few tips to help you train your brain to that end.
Think about “future you”: The majority of people live in the now. World-changing traumas such as the pandemic added fuel to this outlook as billions shifted into survival mode, but if you want to become wealthy, it’s vital to consider where you need to be five, ten, or 30 years from now.
A 2017 Institute for the Future survey found that a staggering 53% of respondents didn’t think at all about what would happen to them in 30 years and that 60% thought only about the near future (within the next month). Such an approach makes building wealth virtually impossible.
Shake off society’s thoughts: — There are a number of assumed prerequisites to becoming wealthy, including that the process must feature a formal education (a Ph.D. or Masters in Business, say). But a significant percentage of the world’s richest people taught themselves how to earn money without the assistance of a textbook or via avenues that had nothing to do with prior schooling.
Jeff Bezos has degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, but he started an online retail business in his garage and grew it into the largest in the world, making him the richest person in the world. Steve Jobs, meanwhile, was a university dropout who often said that leaving higher education was one of the best decisions he ever made.
If you want to learn more about business or investing, you don’t need to go to school for it. Buy books, take online courses, and otherwise teach yourself the skills needed to succeed, so there’s no time spent learning things you’re never going to apply.
Adopt an investment lifestyle: A small percentage of students are taught how to invest as part of their high school or college curriculum, but one thing we’re certainly shown is how to spend. In North America, everyone lives a consumerist lifestyle, which keeps pushing the idea that having more is a sign of being rich. If you can save up to buy a Tesla, then you must be wealthy, right?
Actually, if you want to be financially independent, it’s critical to resist the temptation to spend money on materialistic things at the expense of savings and investments. A corollary of that mindset is investing any spare cash in stocks, property, etc.—anything that will pay you in the future. On average, the stock market provides about a 10% return each year.
Even a buy-in as modest as $500 or $1,000 a month can quickly turn into significant returns, but remember to choose stocks that will pay out in the long term, and don’t be afraid to take a little risk. If you choose to invest money you would have spent at McDonald’s on a volatile stock without the fear of losing it, you’re likely to see bigger returns.
Write down your ideas.
Buy a notebook and keep it with you at all times. Grab that little notebook and write down your ideas when you’re on the bus, at lunch, or anywhere else. (If you decide to do it later, you’ll probably forget about it.) Then, think about how you could use each idea to make money. One way could be to start a side business that makes enough money to invest, like online tutoring, freelance graphic design, writing, or photography.
A side job like this earns about $200 a month on average, but you can easily make $500 or more if you work hard and give it time. This trains your mind to think like an entrepreneur.
Regard big numbers as achievable:
If you think $500 million is a lot, chances are you’ll also think $1 million is a lot. Both are big numbers, but if we think it’s impossible to get $500 million, it’s much more likely that we’ll think it’s also impossible to get $1 million.
Then, these obstacles in our minds could stop us from making even $200,000 Trust me, once you break through any invisible limits you’ve put on yourself, things will start to change. If you never thought it was possible to make $100,000, but then you did and saw it sitting in your bank account, $200,000 doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Soon, you’ll have millions of dollars, and you’ll wonder how much more you could have made when you didn’t think you could.
Most of the world’s richest people don’t have a special set of skills that helped them get where they are today. Most likely, they will say that it had more to do with how they thought and what they chose to value. They saw something that most people don’t: that you can get rich by doing what you love.
You don’t have to stick to a 9-to-5 job that you don’t mind in order to be financially independent. In fact, that’s one of the worst ways, because you can’t go above and beyond unless someone in a higher position lets you.
It’s time to take charge of your money and start seeing yourself as someone who is ready and able. It’s time to get rid of the idea that only a small number of people can get rich.