Power of habits: Secretary left $18-million to children’s hospital
What separates the ordinary from the extraordinary? I believe consistently doing the best with what you have with daily choices and actions. In a word: habits!
When you use the power of choice and habit, outside forces play a secondary role. It doesn’t matter how educated you are, what occupation you choose, how much you earn or who you know. What does matter is what you do with what you have today.
Habits Make the Difference
For instance, take Gladys Holm who, as a secretary, earned no more than $15,000 a year throughout her life. Yet she left $18 million dollars to a hospital for heart disease research when she passed away! Gladys had the opportunity to invest in her employers’ stock over her career and she did. She also had the opportunity to invest in other stocks (like all of us do) and she did. She had the opportunity to participate in her employer’s stock option plan and did. Notice the trend… she had many opportunities and took advantage of each one to the degree she could with her modest salary. She became known for driving her fire-engine red Cadillac and delivering teddy bears to children at a local hospital in her Chicago neighborhood.
The world has many people like Gladys Holm who do the best with what they have and quietly achieve financial freedom. As identified by authors Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. and William D. Danko, Ph.D. in The Millionaire Next Door, millionaires most likely do not resemble the glitzy people depicted in “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Rather, they often live comfortably within their means and go out of their way to avoid flaunting what they have.
Unfortunately, the world has many more people who do not do the best with what they have. People who spend and borrow instead of save and invest, or people waiting for the big break while doing the very things that will make them broke.
Your task is to get in touch with your personal power to influence your financial results, and identify the habits you can use to get there.
Evaluating Patterns in Your Life
An effective way of getting in touch with your personal power is to review how your past patterns have influenced your life. It is difficult to see how your daily actions affect you, but stepping back and noticing the consequences of patterns over longer periods of time actually illustrates your tremendous personal power. Take a moment to reflect on the following questions.
Over the last five years what has been your pattern of…
- Saving? Is it reflected in your net worth today?
- Spending? Has this behavior influenced your present financial condition?
- Using credit cards or other debt? How has it influenced where you are today financially?
- Investing? Has this pattern helped or hurt you compared to investment trends over the same period?
- Building your career?
- Taking advantage of opportunities vs responding to adversities?
Seeing how the accumulation of your actions and inactions has influenced your life over the years can be enormously liberating. Regardless of whether your pattern of behavior produced the results you wanted, recognizing your influence will help you see yourself as the source of what is going on in your life, and you can begin to shape your financial outcomes with greater confidence and purpose. As we enter into 2018, it’s a great time to reflect on patterns in your life you want to continue on with, those you want to interrupt and stop and new patterns (habits) you want to add to the mix. Go for it!