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One of the things that stood out from my Rich Habits Study was how important thinking was to self-made millionaires. I tracked 10 different types of thinking habits these millionaires engaged in frequently, if not daily. From my research, it was so evident that thinking was fundamental to their success that I decided it needed to become one of what I call the 10 Keystone Rich Habits.

When self-millionaires think, they do so in isolation, closed off from the world. Most engaged in their daily thinking habits in the morning, some during their commute in their car, others in the shower, and still others at night. Morning seemed to be the most dominant time frame, however. Typically, immediately upon waking, these self-made millionaires would find a quiet space and think for about 15 to 30 minutes.

What did they think about? Well, they thought about a lot of things and when they thought, they thought in a way that most would refer to as brainstorming. They spent time every day brainstorming with themselves about numerous things. I was able to boil down those brainstorming sessions into 10 core Rich Thinking Habit categories. Here they are, and the corresponding 83 questions the rich ask themselves.

1. Career

Some of the questions they asked themselves included:

  • What can I do to make more money?
  • How can I increase my value to my clients, customers or my employer?
  • What do I need to do in order to gain more expertise?
  • What additional skills do I need?
  • What things should I be reading more about?
  • Do I like what I do?
  • What do I love to do?
  • Can I make money doing what I love to do?
  • Should I change careers?
  • Should I work more – or fewer — hours?
  • Do I work hard enough?
  • Am I lazy?
  • What am I really good at?
  • What am I really bad at?
  • Does my job make me happy?

2. Finances

When it comes to their money, here are some of the questions they contemplated:

  • Do I spend too much money?
  • Am I saving enough money?
  • Will I have enough to retire on?
  • How much will I need to retire on?
  • Do I have enough set aside for college for my kids?
  • How much do I actually spend each month?
  • Should I create a budget?
  • Should I revise my budget?
  • Am I doing a good job investing our money?
  • Is my spouse doing a good job investing our money?
  • Am I paying too much in taxes?
  • Do I have enough life insurance?
  • Should I set up a trust for my kids?

3. Family

They also asked themselves:

  • Do I spend enough time with my family?
  • Can I work less and spend more time with my family?
  • Are we spoiling our kids?
  • Are we too hard on our kids?
  • Can I get away for a family vacation this year?
  • Are we doing enough to help our kids succeed?
  • How can I improve my relationship with my spouse, my kids?

4. Friends

Social life is also an important part of the equation, and among the things they considered:

  • Do I have as many friends as I should?
  • Do I spend enough time with the friends I have?
  • Why don’t I have many friends?
  • How can I make more friends?
  • Is my work interfering too much with my social life?
  • Do I call my friends enough?
  • How often should I stay in touch with my friends?
  • Who haven’t I spoken with in a while?
  • Do I have good friends?
  • How can I end my friendship with so-and-so?
  • Should I help my friends financially?

5. Business Relationships

Of course, business is also a prominent concern, and they continued to ask themselves the following:

  • What can I do to improve my business relationships?
  • Am I staying in touch enough with my key customers, clients?
  • How can I develop a business relationship with so-and-so?
  • Which business relationships should I spend more time on and which ones should I pull away from?
  • Do my customers/clients like me?
  • Do they think I do a good job?

6. Health

They also focused on health issues, asking:

  • Am I exercising enough?
  • Should I lose more weight?
  • Do I eat too much?
  • Am I eating healthfully?
  • Should I get a physical?
  • Should I take vitamins/supplements?
  • Should I schedule a colonoscopy?
  • Are my arteries clogged?
  • Do I get enough sleep?
  • Do I drink too much?
  • What can I do to stop smoking?
  • How can I cut back on junk food and eat more vegetables?

7. Dream-Setting & Goal-Setting

Most of the brainstorming involved their personal, financial, family and career dreams and goals, including dreams of retiring on a beach, buying a boat, expanding their business, buying vacation homes, etc.

  • What are my dreams and goals for the future?
  • What do I need to do to get there?

8. Problems

Here they brainstormed primarily about finding solutions to those problems that were causing them the most stress at the moment. Most were immediate problems related to their jobs and family. Some were longer-term and related to preempting future potential problems they were anticipating down the road most often related to their careers.

9. Charity

They also try to make sure they’re giving back to their community, so they asked themselves:

  • What other charities can I get involved in?
  • Am I doing enough for my church, business group, synagogue, etc.?
  • How can I best help my community?
  • What can I do to help my grammar school, high school, college, etc.?
  • Should I start a scholarship?
  • Should I contribute more money to my school or church?
  • Who can I help?

10. Happiness

Finally… the ever-important happiness factor. They checked in with these questions:

  • Am I happy?
  • What is causing me to be unhappy?
  • How can I eliminate those things that are making me unhappy?
  • Is my spouse happy?
  • Are my kids happy?
  • Are my employees or staff happy?
  • How can I make myself happier?
  • What is happiness?
  • Will I ever be happy?
  • What’s making me so happy?

That’s a lot of thinking, I know. There are a lot of days in the year, however, to brainstorm with yourself. You just need to make it a daily habit. Eventually, over time you will come up with solutions to your most pressing problems. You will gain insight into what makes you tick. Planned daily thinking will help you find some meaning to your life.

Making a daily habit of thinking is what self-made millionaires do. It’s an important piece of the success puzzle. Understanding why they do it is less important than understanding that they do do it. Every day.

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.

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