Successful entrepreneurs and self-made billionaires like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg all have something in common. It’s the secret sauce that has propelled them to the pinnacles of achievement and gives them their edge.

So what’s their key to success?

Habits. The most successful people cultivate good habits that support their achievements and give them the boost they need in order to succeed. Start with these 15 core habits of self-made billionaires and see how small changes can help secure your wins.

1. They plan out their day the night before.

Take 10 minutes each night to sit down and make a plan of action for the next day. Give yourself a game plan on which you can focus so you don’t get lost in the minutiae. Taking the time to think through your goals the night before will ensure that you can move forward with purpose in the morning. This helps increase productivity and keeps you looking ahead to what’s next.

2. They pursue what they love.

Nobody becomes truly successful by pursuing something they hate. We are intrinsically driven to follow our passions. If you go the fake-it-till-you-make-it route you’ll eventually flop. You’ll find that you simply won’t have the fire under you to put in the hard work for the long haul, and your goals will keep slipping away. Self-made billionaires work relentlessly for one reason: they love what they do.

3. They step outside their comfort zone.

Successful people don’t isolate themselves or stay in their comfort zone. They know that the only way to thrive is to be stretched beyond their boundaries. Once you start questioning the world around you, you will see opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. Don’t allow yourself to become complacent. Do things that scare you a little. Stand up for yourself. Push yourself in a new ways, and see how challenging yourself opens up new possibilities.

4. They find balance amid the chaos.

Life’s a balancing act. Too much of one thing can upset the established order. For instance, a workaholic lifestyle may lead to burnout before you can achieve what you set out to do. Everybody needs a way to decompress and have fun. Making time for family and a social life is the key to living a whole life, rather than a life that is wholly focused on work. Don’t let your ambitions replace the people you love and care for. They are what will get you through the rough times.

5. They prioritize.

If you have 10 things on your to-do list for the day, identify the top 2 most important tasks and work on those first. Start your day with the most urgent things so that you complete them when you are well rested and at your most alert. Beginning with these tasks will give you more time to complete what needs to get done and navigate potential roadblocks. If you are working on a project that involves multiple stages, organize by putting each smaller task into sequence and then compiling it into a checklist. Start with the first item and work your way down.

6. They read for inspiration and knowledge.

What makes reading so valuable is that it opens your mind to new worlds that you might otherwise never have known existed. Successful people never stop learning and absorbing knowledge. Self-made billionaires read voraciously to stay abreast of trends and gain insight into the world around them. Warren Buffett offers this advice: Read all you can, but don’t forget to give yourself time to think and reflect on what you have learned.

7. They make healthy choices.

While you enlighten your mind with knowledge, remember that you must also take care of your body. The effects of stress, poor eating and lack of exercise will weigh you down both physically and mentally, while healthy habits can boost your focus and mental agility.

Studies show that working out can increase your memory, concentration and mental sharpness. So keep your body refreshed by making smart choices about your diet, and getting regular exercise and a full eight hours of sleep.

8. They live below their means.

Billionaires are wealthy enough to live a life of extravagant luxury, but the most successful ones don’t. In fact, some of the world’s wealthiest people forgo an indulgent lifestyle and live well below their means. Warren Buffett still lives in the same humble five-bedroom home in Omaha, Nebraska, that he bought in 1956 for $31,500. And Mark Zuckerberg is known to drive a modest $30,000 Acura TSX entry-level sedan. A frivolous lifestyle doesn’t increase your wealth. Quite the opposite: it will slowly drain your resources and will not bring you happiness in the long run.

9. They surround themselves with smart people.

As motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Self-made billionaires such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg understand this, and surround themselves with a diverse and solid team who will be both a critical eye and a sounding board for ideas. Learn to lean on smart and objective people who can offer you real feedback. They will help you identify blind spots you might have overlooked. More importantly, they will challenge you to look at things in new ways.

10. They avoid comparing themselves to others.

It’s important to learn from others, see where they have made mistakes and try to avoid those pitfalls. But don’t waste time comparing your progress to someone else’s. That will only lead to jealousy or a devaluation of your own accomplishments. Instead of getting distracted by what other people are doing, realize that your journey is unique to you. Look to those around you for inspiration, and then harness that motivation to focus on your goals, mission and dreams.

11. They’re proactive.

Self-made billionaires are go-getters, laser focused on their goals. Without direction, even the most ambitious person will fail to make consistent progress—and that’s the key to long-term success. If you find that you are constantly avoiding a task, set a timer and commit to working on it for 15 minutes. You may find when the timer goes off that you are motivated to keep going. Or maybe you won’t. But either way you’ll have at least moved forward.

12. They greet the sunrise.

Successful entrepreneurs are up at the crack of dawn. They take advantage of the early-morning hours, when the world is still quiet and calm, to focus on tackling their to-do list or working on long-term goals. If you aren’t a morning person, you can train yourself to become one. Start getting up 15 minutes earlier each week, and before long you’ll have an extra hour every morning.

13. They take a big-picture approach.

The say the devil is in the details, but don’t forget the importance of taking in the big picture. Of course, it’s good to be fully aware of your current state of affairs so you can make adjustments and head off potential problems before the balloon. But don’t become so myopic in your day-to-day work that you forget to look up and see where you are headed. Step back and consider your long-term goals. Take time to think big.

14. They’re graciously disruptive.

Politeness is always appreciated. Showing kindness will always open doors. But that doesn’t mean you should passively accept the status quo or allow your creativity to be stifled. Ask the hard questions. Voice your ideas. Challenge conventional wisdom. Push the envelope and see what happens. Be disruptive, but do it graciously. Chose to be considerate of others, instead of being unduly harsh. Listen, but don’t back down when it’s time to make changes.

15. They’re a force to be reckoned with.

Self-made billionaires didn’t achieve their success by accepting failure or taking no for an answer. Everyone flounders at times, but successful people get back up and keep climbing. Self-made billionaires are stubborn. They are determined, but not frantic or overwrought. They find the quiet in the storm but have the energy to keep moving forward. Keep struggling to overcome whatever obstacles are in your way and you will reach your goal.


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