A habit that will make you rich (hint: it’s all in your mind)

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One of the “Eight Secrets to Getting More Done in 2012,” in this Forbes magazine article struck a nerve with me because it is something I have struggled with. If you have ever been accused of being “overly analytical,” “a perfectionist,” a “procrastinator,” or just somebody who has trouble making up their mind, we’re bred from the same stock.

Yes, being an attorney means being careful, not jumping to conclusions, and not making rash decisions. We carefully weigh the options and we go out of our way to avoid risk. It goes with the job description.

It’s also why attorneys usually make poor business people. Entrepreneurs see a vision of success and act on it; lawyers see what could wrong and either say no or mull it over so long the opportunity passes them by.

But according to Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, the ability to make quick decisions is the hallmark of rich people:

Analysis of several hundred people who had accumulated fortunes well beyond the million dollar mark, disclosed the fact that every one of them had the habit of reaching decisions promptly, and changing these decisions slowly, if and when they were changed at all. People who fail to accumulate money, without exception, have the habit of reaching decisions, if at all, very slowly, and of changing these decisions quickly and often.

Marty Zwilling, founder and CEO of Startup Professionals understands this. It was his contribution to the Forbes article that caught my eye:

My key to productivity is simply “make a decision.” Even a bad decision is recoverable, and better than no decision, since it gets the issue off your plate and moving. Making no decision bottlenecks your work, and causes things to happen to you, rather than by you.

But if the ability to make decisions quickly is a habit of the rich and attorneys are prone to doing the opposite, why are there so many rich attorneys?

Two reasons, I think. First, we’re around a lot of successful people and get in front of a lot of good opportunities. The odds are in our favor that we will be “in the right place at the right time”. Second, attorneys are intelligent people and tend to make “good decisions,” albeit not quickly. If we could combine the two and make “good decisions quickly,” I think there would be many more rich lawyers.

Fortunately, making decisions quickly is a habit and habits can be developed. You do it once, the world doesn’t end, you do it again.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Start with little decisions, “which movie to see,” or “which topic to write about today.” Give yourself five minutes to decide. Use a timer. Use a screen saver message or post-it to remind you to “Decide Now!” And do it every day.

If you mindfully make quick decisions every day, making quick decisions will soon become a habit. Eventually, you’ll be able to make quick decisions about important matters and that’s when you will see more significant results.

But don’t forget the other side of the equation. Once you’ve decided, you must stick with your decision. Practice not changing your mind. Yes, you’ll make mistakes, but as Zwilling says, “even a bad decision is recoverable”. Isn’t that why God invented E and O coverage?

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