7 'rich habits' of highly successful people, from a man who studied them for 25 years

Self-made billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates
Bloomberg | Getty Images

Socio-economist Randall Bell, Ph.D., has been studying success for 25 years, analyzing the core characteristics that all great achievers have in common.

Part of his research included surveying more than 5,000 people across the world, including professionals, students, retirees, the unemployed and multi-millionaires. "We studied dozens of rituals ranging from writing thank-you notes to eating together as a family," he writes in his new book, "Me We Do Be." "We then statistically correlated various habits with different measures of success."

It turns out that what you do every day matters. The most successful people follow specific daily rituals and routines, or what he calls "rich habits."

Here are seven of them:

They exercise

"Those who exercised, even for 15 minutes a day, dominated statistically in every single measure of success," writes Bell.

Take self-made billionaire Richard Branson, who wakes up around 5 a.m. to work out before starting his day. "I definitely can achieve twice as much by keeping fit," he tells FourHourBodyPress. "It keeps the brain functioning well."

Branson is far from the only successful individual who prioritizes fitness. Dozens of today's top business leaders, from Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg to media guru Oprah Winfrey, make time in their busy schedules for exercise.

Sir Richard Branson
Julian Finney | Getty Images

They make their bed

"Those who do their chores and keep their living space tidier tend to make more money," writes Bell. "For example, those who make their bed in the morning are up to 206.8 percent more likely to be millionaires." It puts your mind into a productive mindset, he explains.

Author Charles Duhigg calls it a "keystone habit" in his bestseller, "The Power of Habit": "Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget."

How rich people save
How rich people save

They read

"Reading dramatically correlates with higher education and income, as well as overall happiness," writes Bell. "Those who read seven or more books per year are more than 122 percent more likely to be millionaires as opposed to those who never read or only read one to three [books]."

Take the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, who reads 50 books a year, or Warren Buffett, who spends as much as 80% of his day reading.

Break your snooze habit with this 5-step strategy
Break your snooze habit with this 5-step strategy

They wake up early

Bell's not the only one to find that successful people start the day before the average person.

In a five-year study of 177 self-made millionaires, author Thomas C. Corley found that nearly 50 percent of them woke up at least three hours before their work day actually began.

It's a strategy to deal with inevitable daily disruptions, such as a meeting that went too long, and still have time to accomplish everything you set out to do that day, Corley writes in his book, "Change Your Habits, Change Your Life." "Getting up at five in the morning to tackle the top three things you want to accomplish in your day allows you to regain control of your life," he explains.
"It gives you a sense of confidence that you, indeed, direct your life."

This is why Tim Cook and other successful leaders wake up around 4:00 AM
This is why Tim Cook and other successful leaders wake up around 4:00 AM

They have good etiquette

Bell found that remembering the little things, such as wishing people happy birthday or sending thank you notes, correlates with success.

Corley found a similar thing in his research. "Self-made millionaires have mastered certain rules of etiquette principles you have to master if you want to be a success," he writes in his book. These include acknowledging important life events such as birthdays and weddings, having good table manners, and dressing appropriately depending on the social setting.

They prioritize their relationships

"Putting an effort into romance has benefits," Bell writes. "Those who are in satisfying romantic relationships are far more likely to be happy overall and make more money."

Simply making time for family dinner can go a long way, Bell explains in a TED talk: "Those who had regular dinner together as a family are 41% more likely to be happy and 43% more likely to earn over $100,000 a year."

Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg at the White House on September 25, 2015.

They plan out the day and write things down

"Those who maintain both a calendar and to-do list are 289 percent more likely to be millionaires, as compared with those who have no real set schedule," writes Bell. He also found that successful people "document insights."

Case in point: Self-made billionaires Bill Gates and Richard Branson are devoted note-takers. "When inspiration calls, you've got to capture it," says Branson.

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