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Becoming rich takes time, but with the proper mindset and right strategies, you can become a millionaire in 10 years or less. And the earlier you start, the sooner you can actually become one.
With that said, how can someone who is now in their 20s achieve wealth within a decade?
If you’re a 20-year-old young urban professional, then here are fourteen pieces of advice for you. It’s a list of things you need to learn, skills and habits you must develop, and mistakes to avoid if you want to be rich in your 30s.
1. Work to learn, not just to earn.
Your office is not just a place to work for income. It’s also a place where learning opportunities can be found. Nurture a growth mindset and expand your skills and knowledge there.
There’s a special training being organized by the HR Department? Sign up and attend. Going out to lunch with your boss? Discuss ideas with them, or maybe ask for career and life advice.
Some of the things you will learn may seem trivial, but it can become handy later. For example, I learned how to use Excel functions during my corporate years, which later helped me in doing feasibility analysis for my business.
2. Make boredom your friend.
The truth is, there will be a lot of boring and mechanical days ahead as you work towards becoming rich. Just stay focused and be patient through these repetitive days.
It’s during these times when unhealthy distractions will tempt you. It’s when you can get hooked on watching television, or become addicted to shopping, or start spending impulsively on wants.
When you find yourself bored in your daily routine, consciously lead yourself towards doing something productive — such as reading a book, learning a new skill, or pursuing a potentially profitable hobby.
3. Develop the habit of reading.
Before bedtime, instead of watching television, pick up a book instead. Save yourself from boredom while waiting at the bank by bringing a book to read with you. Or maybe set aside at least an hour during the weekend for reading.
Read regularly and soon, your vocabulary will increase and your communication skills will improve. Alternate between fiction and non-fiction books, to nurture your imagination and learn new things, respectively.
4. Learn productivity tools and strategies.
As a student, the only productivity tool I knew was creating and following a To-Do List. Little did I know that there are many other tools out there that could have made my life easier.
Now, I prefer doing a Personal Kanban instead of a To-Do List. I follow the Pomodoro Technique when working. And I use a few more strategies to help me manage my days and increase my output.
There are many productivity tools out there. Find those that suit your personality. And more importantly, find ways to automate tasks, and ultimately learn how to outsource or delegate your work.
Remember that wealth is not just about having money, but also having free time to do the things you love.
5. Go on a solo travel.
Being young, there’s always the allure of traveling. And it’s an activity we often enjoy with friends and family. Plus, saving up for a trip is a good way to learn how to budget.
Doing a solo travel is not something many consider, but I recommend it for many reasons. Among them, it’s a great way to develop self-awareness and encourage self-discovery.
Many of my friends who went through quarter-life crisis realized their passion during a solo travel. When you’re sitting alone in a plane or enduring a 6-hour bus ride, you’ll have time to reflect and be reacquainted with yourself.
This is important to avoid drifting through life, and then later realizing that you’ve wasted a lot of years doing nothing but work and pursuing temporary pleasures.
6. Focus and master one profitable skill.
It’s good to dabble on different things when you’re still on the journey to self-discovery. But once you stumble upon a skill or talent that you can excel in, then nurture it and focus on mastering it.
Ask most people who their professional idol or role model is, and you’ll hear the name of a person who became well-known for one specific skill or talent.
Many of my colleagues admire Warren Buffet for his investing skills. Most friends who like singing look up to Lea Salonga. Meanwhile, I’ve met a lot of young entrepreneurs who try to emulate the business acumen of Injap Sia.
7. Create multiple streams of income.
It will be hard to become rich if your only source of income is your job. And it’s been said that millionaires typically have at least 7 income streams.
Do a side hustle or pursue some freelance work. You can also start investing on paper assets. These will immediately translate to 2 or 3 additional sources of income for you.
Just like in your job, prioritize learning over earning at first. But after a while, start to scale and build. In time, you’ll surely have cash flow coming in from businesses, rentals, royalties, and investments.
8. Expand your network.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of creating meaningful connections when you’re young. A lot of the opportunities I have today where born out of my courage to network several years ago.
Extend yourself and build bridges. Conversely, offer your doors to those who will reach out to you. In this age of collaboration and “coopetition” — your network can influence and help increase your net worth.
9. Start something.
If you want to get out of your comfort zone, the easiest thing to do is to start something — a personal project, preferably a creative pursuit. Do something you’ve never done before.
Grow your Instagram account. Start a video blog on YouTube. Learn typography. Write a book. Create a board game. The possibilities are endless, and you’ll see that there’s more to life than hours of mindless scrolling on Facebook.
10. Develop tolerance towards rejections.
The earlier you accept that you can’t please everybody, the better you will be in managing relationships. Be it in love, friendship, or in business — there will be times when you will be rejected, and that’s okay.
Not everyone will be able to see your side of the story. Not everyone will be open to what you have to offer, even if you think it will be good for them. Such is life, and you must learn to accept and move on.
11. Mind your cashflow.
Finally, let’s talk about your finances. I’m sure you’ve read or watched videos telling the success stories of wealthy and famous personalities. They’re inspirational and give us lessons on how to pursue our own wealth.
However, what most of these tales lack is the emphasis on proper money management. It’s all about the big break or the profitable ideas, but never about monitoring cashflow and following a budget.
Above all else, make sure to spend less than what you earn. It is the foundation of wealth, the ground upon which you will build your financial future.
12. Learn how to leverage debts.
While it is possible to live a healthy financial life without going into debt. You will be missing out on one of the best tools that has helped millionaires create their wealth.
Start by learning how to use your credit card wisely. Study how it works. Be acquainted with its terms, interest rates, payment cycles, and other features. Knowing these things will help you find ways to properly leverage debt.
I remember a friend who started a milk tea store with no startup cash, and using only his credit cards to buy supplies and equipment. A year after, he’s able to resign from his job and run the business full-time.
If he had waited to save enough to start the business, it would have taken him at least a year. And eventually missed catching the start of a trend. His business was profitable because he was among the first milk tea stores in his area.
13. Envision your future.
When you don’t know where you’re going, any place becomes a destination. And we don’t want you to end up somewhere that you don’t like 10 years from now — probably in the same, messy, office cubicle.
Design how you want your life to be after a decade. Are you hoping to finally go into business? Then what business it that? Start pursuing work in that industry to help you get closer to that goal.
Do you see yourself becoming CEO of a company? Then learn the necessary skills to get promoted. Devour books on management and acquire the certifications to climb up the corporate ladder.
Deciding on a long-term goal will help you make better decisions today. When faced with options in your career or personal life, you can simply ask which path will take you closer to where you want to go.
I know that ten years is a long time, and a lot can happen and change, including your goal itself. But following a path is always better than walking aimlessly and hoping that your feet leads you to somewhere you like.
14. Invest for your retirement.
When you’re in your 20s, retirement is something you don’t think about. Mainly because we are led to believe that people should retire at the age of 60.
But what if I tell you that you can retire at the age of 40 if you start now? I’ve actually met a handful of people who successfully retired early, way before 60, and you can too.
The key is to start now. Invest on paper assets such as stocks and pooled funds. Create passive income through businesses or rental properties. A little money invested today can grow significantly given enough time.
Lastly, never think about retirement as the time when you don’t have to work anymore. You will still work, but not because you have to, but because you want to.
Dismiss the old idea of what retirement is. Instead, think of it as the time when you have enough passive income to cover your daily expenses. So you can now work on things that give you self-fulfillment.
You can be running your dream business, or pursuing a meaningful profession. You can be working on a personal advocacy, or even starting a new career and reinventing yourself.
Retirement offers a lot of exciting times, but you won’t get there unless you learn how to invest and start as early as you can.