Start from a Strong Foundation Some people are lucky enough to be raised in families that instilled integrity, prudence, and hard work. If that's your experience, you can be grateful (Call your Mother/Father and thank them). But, if not, then it's still within your power to cultivate those qualities now. Not only will that create the conditions for your own financial success, but it will benefit everyone around you as well.
Throughout you will need patience. Typically the personal and financial decisions that will pay off in the long run require sacrificing a little today. Patience helps you live with the reality that true rewards usually require some short-term discomfort.
Choose a Career Wisely Your choice of career is one of the most important decisions you'll ever make. You need to love your work if you want to be great and prosper from it. So pay attention not only to your gifts, but to what makes you enthusiastic about getting up in the morning. Then, find a career path that plays to those strengths.
If you're just starting out, and it suits you, a high-paying career in a technical or professional field will clearly advance your cause. Competence in math or technology can be a first-class ticket to building wealth. But, if that's not possible, at least be aware of the financial implications of your college education and early career choices.
If you're already in a career, look for success mentors (Like Lori Morgan) and other professional relationships that complement your skills and personality. Be open to wisdom when it's offered. You don't have to take every piece of advice, but it can be your starting point.
Learn to Manage Money You might start out with a great family foundation. You might have a high-paying career that you love. But unless you live on less than you make, it won't put you any closer to financial freedom. In fact, if you develop expensive tastes in houses and cars, and need to "keep up with the Jones's", you could wind up worse off financially—no matter how much you make. You can start heading in the right direction by simply tracking your expenses, as well as learning about saving and budgeting. Identify the few areas where money spent truly pays off in better quality of life for your core interests. Spend there, and cut back everywhere else.
Next, find a mentor to help you become a confident investor.
Once your career and finances are on track, you can explore more entrepreneurial paths for wealth building—perhaps by owning a small business or real estate. These can leverage your time and money, getting you to financial independence years earlier. They can be fun and rewarding too!
Keep Your Perspective Even with all these ingredients for success, be sure to take life one day at a time. Sometimes as small as one breath per second. Again, cultivate patience. You'll need it for the long stretches in business and life.
Remember the goal—financial independence —but don't obsess on it. Don’t sacrifice the present for the future; it won’t turn out as planned anyway. Make time for your loved ones and meaningful activities, even if you must work longer in the end. As great as it is to achieve financial freedom and retire early, you don't want to arrive there having missed out on life along the way. Take care of your body, mind and spirit daily.