7 Habits that can lead to future prosperity

Wealth is like physical fitness. To build it, you need to cultivate the kind of daily habits that produce long-term results. It's not like your physical best friend doesn't enjoy a beer with a burger and fries one and one time. It's that he probably doesn't have a high-fat fryer and a bowl of mini candy bars on his kitchen counter, right next to his unused health club membership card.

The same goes for money: your wealthiest friend didn't necessarily earn an MBA at the prestigious Wharton School of Business, inherit money, or join the staff of a hot startup before it went public and blew the roof off the stock market. (Although in terms of building wealth, these life events are certainly not too shabby.) However, it's likely that the wealthiest people in your circle are committed to habitual actions that not only build wealth, but grow and protect it over the long term. Here are some ways to do just that.

Evaluate your habits

Many of our financial habits are deeply rooted in childhood. This is fortunate for some of us, unfortunate for many. The same kid who got up early every morning during summer vacation to run his own lawn mowing business will likely find it easier to successfully manage a profitable entrepreneurial opportunity later in life. This is because habits eventually become second nature to us.

Think critically

To hack a life problem or change a habit, you must first distance yourself from the problem and think critically, not reactively.

Habit-like buying a daily $5 latte or paying off your credit card on the last possible day that can make you more likely to forget it and thus accumulate late charges-experts suggest critically analyzing habit structure. What is the cue and what is the reward? In the case of the expensive latte, which can be more than $150 per month, your cue is likely your morning fatigue and the reward is both the taste and the ingestion of caffeine.

To understand the motivations behind this particular habit, you might instead embrace a morning jog that delivers a similar wake-up call. When you experience the cue, your new habit won't be racing to Starbucks, it will be lacing up your running shoes. The reward? Runner's high lasts longer than a caffeine buzz, and it's free.

Surround yourself with smart people

Judging by most reality TV, the way many people hope to get rich is to surround themselves with wealthy people. However, your financial decisions benefit more from receiving intelligent feedback and informed perspectives than an invitation to a ski chalet in Vail.

Save … and save some more

The math is simple: to save money, you need to save and invest more than you spend. But strategic saving requires more than just saving what's left over from your spending. Financial experts recommend that you prioritize investing in your financial goals before paying your bills and the balance. While this may be a reversal of your status quo habits, it means keeping your financial goals at the forefront of your cash flow.

Even small amounts of savings add up, and they'll make it too You'll likely save more in the future. Once again, the power of habit cannot be underestimated.

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Simplify your possessions

Simplifying your life sounds lofty, so how do successful people actually implement this? First, don't buy what you don't need: you'll avoid credit card debt and the stress that comes with it. Marie Kondo's recent bestseller, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, asks readers to throw away any object that doesn't "trigger joy". If something isn't necessary, helpful or inspiring to you, it's likely to drag you down (and can consume maintenance, repair and energy costs). Throw it. Simplify.

Take risks, be happy

An experienced whitewater kayaker will tell you to steer in the direction you want to go, rather than trying to avoid the rocks. The same goes for wealth: orient yourself to opportunities (be it an exciting new job opportunity, a degree, or a promising investment) rather than focusing on damage control.

As far as risks are concerned, hockey star Wayne Gretzky is perhaps at his best: "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

Get up early

Research shows that people who wake up early are not only more productive, but also more proactive. Two outstanding examples: Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook and Virgin America Inc. Founder Richard Branson, who reportedly start their workdays before 6 a.m.