Everyone wants to reach their full financial potential. After all, that’s why you work, why you invest, why you do it all – to live the life you want. But unfortunately, most people practice bad habits that limit their potential.
I’ve been there. I made those choices that seemed insignificant at the time, but that later compounded and became the heavy weights that held me down. That’s the tricky part – sometimes you don’t realize you have bad habits until much later. I let myself get in my own head, I blamed others around me, and nothing changed much in my life.
Then I had my day of reckoning. I decided that if I wanted to radically change my life, if I wanted to create an environment that furthered my most important goals, rather than being a product of my environment, that was on ME. I had to make that happen.
And it all started with overcoming my bad habits.
Overcoming Your Inner Beach Bum
I would dare to say that no one is born doomed to fail – you weren’t. We’re all born with the same potential for success and failure. To reference Jeff Olson who said it best in his book The Slight Edge, “We all have the potential to be a beach bum and a millionaire within us.”
You see, something I’ve learned over the years is that secret to success is found in your daily routine. And you’ll never change your life, you’ll never reach your full financial potential, until you change what you do daily. Until you change your habits. I didn’t – until the day the secret to success hit me like a ton of bricks.
The secret to success is simple – successful people have good habits, and unsuccessful people have bad habits.
Now, I won’t lie to you and tell you that changing your habits is easy. It sure wasn’t an easy, overnight process for me. Heck, it’s much easier to be a beach bum than it is to be a millionaire. It took years of coaching seminars, reading books, and learning from my successful peers for my day of reckoning to occur. For the realization that my own bad habits were holding me back to take root and bloom. But once it did, my life changed for the better in every way possible.
15 Bad Habits Holding You Back from Reaching Your Full Financial Potential
You shouldn’t short-change yourself when it comes to your quest for personal development. I encourage you to take advantage of every resource you can get your hands on. And this quick list is the perfect one to get you started.
Here are 15 bad habits that are holding you back from reaching your full financial potential:
1. Sleeping in as late as possible. Not everyone is a morning person – then again, not everyone is financially successful. Every successful person I know starts their day before the sun comes up. This time should be used to focus on you – organize your day, enjoy a cup of coffee while you watch the news, exercise, prioritize your goals for the day. You get the point. Being an early riser can make you a much more productive person. And higher productivity means a higher likelihood of success.
2. Not paying yourself first. I’m about to share one of the easiest, most boring get-rich secrets with you – pay yourself first. This is one of THE most important ingredients in reaching your full financial potential. You should focus on saving 15%-20% of your income annually. If you can’t do this, everything else has to work that much harder to pick up the slack. You have no safety net, and it puts additional pressure on other areas of your financial life.
3. Neglecting your physical health. You may not think your physical health has anything to do with reaching your full financial potential, but it does. Again, successful people make their health a priority. When you’re unhealthy, you tend to be more tired and less productive. In fact, on days when I don’t work out, I can see a difference in my energy throughout the day. Exercise is one of the best, natural ways to boost energy, relieve stress, and sharpen your mental focus.
4. Neglecting your mental health. Be sure that you don’t overlook your mental health, either. This is just as important as your physical health. Every day, you should spend some quiet time inside your mind. You can use this time however it will most benefit you. Maybe it’s reflecting on the things you’re grateful for, or visualizing your day ahead and how you can make it successful.
5. Racking up bad debt carelessly. Bad debt is equivalent to short-term, high interest debt. Credit cards are a great example. I would recommend living by the following saying most of the time – if you can’t pay for it in cash, you probably can’t afford it. Now, of course there are special exceptions, but this is generally a good rule of thumb. Carelessly racking up credit card to live a lifestyle you can’t afford – and not saving your money – is a recipe for disaster. And a sure way to never reach your full financial potential.
6. Neglecting your own personal development. Successful people take the time to improve themselves. And one of the best ways to do this is by reading. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and the like all have one thing in common – they’re voracious readers. Expanding your knowledge pushes you to dream bigger – to never give up, even when you’ve reached one success milestone. Your bank account and your personal development are correlated. If your net worth doesn’t match your personal development, it will shrink back down to where your potential limits it. Spending just 15 minutes a day reading a good book can do wonders.
7. Overlooking your true cost of living. In other words, not paying attention to what the “small” things are really costing you. For example, say you buy a $5 coffee every morning. This means you’re spending $960 a year on coffee. But what it’s really costing you is what could have done with that money instead. What if you’d invested that money annually instead? Earning 8% growth, that would produce a gross value in 10 years of $15,020. Now, I’m not saying you have to sacrifice your morning Starbucks routine. But you do need to be aware of your true cost of living. You have to implement strategies to offset your lost opportunity costs.
8. Not accepting responsibility. A lot of people struggle with the concept of responsibility. Maybe that’s because we say it in ways that can sound negative – you know, “grow up and take responsibility for your actions.” But responsibility isn’t a form of blame or something you should avoid. Accepting responsibility means that you’re the cause of everything that happens in your life. It means that no one is responsible for your success or failure but yourself. Until this sinks in, you’ll struggle to find the motivation necessary to reach your full financial potential.
9. Speculating and gambling with your money. Or engaging in bad investor behavior period. Timing the market, stock picking, listening to market forecasters, and making emotionally charged investment decisions are all bad habits. Sure, there’s an opportunity for success if you engage in these behaviors. But there’s an even greater opportunity for failure. You get one shot at your financial journey – ONE. And failure is not an option.
10. Thinking with a scarcity mindset. Success starts with your mindset – your mindset creates your attitude, creates your behavior, creates your results, creates your life. A scarcity mindset traps you in thinking you can’t afford to practice good habits, your past dictates the future, and you’ll never have enough while others have plenty. It traps you in thinking “I can’t do that.” And you’ll settle for what is rather than breaking through to what could be – to living the life you want.
11. Hanging out with the wrong people. You’ve probably heard that you’re the average of your five closest friends. Well, it’s true. If you hang out with people who aren’t goal-oriented, striving for something better, challenging themselves, or working toward financial independence, you probably won’t either.
12. Not setting goals. You have to set financial goals for yourself. How else do you measure your progress? How else do you have something to look forward to? You need to write your goals down on paper, and monitor your progress regularly. But make sure that you’re capable of accomplishing them. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up for failure. A good way to do this is to make sure your goals are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based.
13. Searching for the instant button. You’ll never reach your full financial potential if you’re always searching for the instant button. Success isn’t instant. You’re not going to see the results from your hard work in five days, five weeks, or even five months. It’s not until the summation of all those good habits overtime produce an end result that the drastic difference is realized.
14. Procrastination. “There’s always tomorrow.” This justification should not be part of your philosophy. What if you were to die today? what would your tombstone say? Would it be complete, or would there be much left unsaid? Now, if we could extend your life, what would you change? What more could you accomplish? What would be the culmination of your life that people would remember? It’s one thing to say you want to reach your full financial potential. It’s another thing to do it. But you have to stop talking and thinking, and start doing.
15. Neglecting to define your “why.” Before you can reach your full financial potential, you have to define your “why” for money. What is it that money truly enables you to do? What purpose does it serve in your life? What are your most important values? Are your financial behaviors furthering them? Only then can clearly define your “why” – the thing that drives everything you do. Until you define your why, you don’t have anything to fight for.