One of the common refrains in the many emails I receive from those who have read one of my Rich Habits books is that people simply don't have enough time to pursue their personal dreams and goals. I even had one reader tell me that, besides her job, her kids and all of the myriad responsibilities of managing the household, she also served as the primary caretaker for an elderly family member.
Work, family and life just seem to get in the way of our dreams.
If you feel this way, you're not alone. Even self-made millionaires have struggled. In my Rich Habits Study, 233 self-made millionaires shared with me details about their very difficult climb up the mountain of success, and 38 of those 233 self-made millionaires, or 16 percent, spent years pursuing their dream part-time because they already held a full-time job and had to care for and support a family.
But necessity is the mother of invention, and those 38 self-made millionaires figured out how to pursue their dream, despite having very little available time.
How did they do it? Time-blocking.
They blocked off a set amount of time at the same time every day to pursue their dream. For most, this was in the early morning.
This consistent, daily time-blocking strategy generally did not involve more than an hour a day over the course of many years. But during that hour, the millionaires focused like a laser on pursuing the goals behind their dreams.
Their success inspired me. In 2008-2009, I was running two companies: a CPA firm and a financial planning firm. I also had three kids and a wife at home. And I became obsessed with the desire to write a book. I had never written a book before, so I had a lot to learn.
So, using the time-blocking strategy I learned from those 38 self-made millionaires in my study, I blocked off time early in the morning from 5-8 a.m. and, in 18 months, my book "Rich Habits" was published.
Here was my time-blocking morning routine back then:
- Wake at 5 a.m. each day, though 25 percent of the time I woke up at 4 a.m. and 25 percent of the time I woke up at 5:30 a.m.
- Review my Word List for 15 minutes. My Word List is a list of new words I am currently committing to memory.
- Review my Facts Summary or Study Summary for 15 minutes. My Facts Summary are important facts I feel are important to know. My Study Summary is a summary of the thousands of studies I've poured through over the years that make their way into media articles and my books.
- Read to learn for 30-45 minutes. Reading material included studies, specifically selected articles, the latest non-fiction book, etc.
- Write for 30 – 45 minutes.
- Review previous day's writing for 30 minutes.
- Exercise 30 to 60 minutes every day, thirty minutes if it was a run-only day and sixty minutes if it was a run-and-lift-weights day.
I still follow this morning routine every day. And, thanks to this time-blocking strategy, I have been able to maintain my CPA business, grow my CFP business, write five books and hundreds of articles for the media, prepare for my speaking engagements and, most importantly, stay fit and healthy.
Consistency is a prerequisite for success and good health. It is, therefore, a rich habit. Without consistency, dreams and goals can never be realized or achieved. This time-blocking strategy will, over time (about 90 days), become a habit, one that will pay dividends and help you to create the life of your dreams.
Tom Corley is an accountant, financial planner and the author of "Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life."
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