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Don’t Confuse Activity with Accomplishment

A farmer had a dog that used to sit by the roadside waiting for vehicles to come around. As soon as one came he would run down the road, barking and trying to overtake it. One day a neighbor asked the farmer “Do you think your dog is ever going to catch a car?” The farmer replied, “That is not what bothers me. What bothers me is what he would do if he ever caught one.”

We all know the answer: The dog is engaged in meaningless activity; he’ll never accomplish anything, even if he does catch up with the car.

There are a lot of people who are like that dog. They stay busy but they never seem to accomplish much. I know a lot of real estate agents that have stacks of business cards, but hardly any business. They don’t do the basic things that lead to more sales: they’re too busy, the broker isn’t advertising enough, etc.

I believe it was the founder of Samuel Adams beer who told this story: he was doing a number of things in preparation to launch his business; working on marketing, working on getting funding, setting up an office. One day a relative called and asked what he was doing that day. He told them that he was setting up software to track his customers and his sales to them. “Son”, said the relative,” you don’t have any customers and you don’t have any sales.” Duh!

So, if just being ‘busy’ isn’t the answer, what is?

In his book, “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.” financial plannerTom Corley details the results of spending five years observing more than 350 “rich” and “poor” people, how they live, work and even slept. “I realized, it’s not so much what’s going on in business, it’s the daily habits, the activities, that are the reason for your wealth or your poverty,” says Corley.

NEXT: 5 habits of the wealthy and (following) my self-accessment:

Early Risers

Corley found that rich folks often take advantage of those wee morning hours. Specifically, 44% wake up three hours before their 9-to-5 job. In those hours they focus on self-improvement, reading educational material, like trade journals or industry blogs.

Keep a Running List of Tasks

Once they reach their offices, the wealthy don’t waste time. Most maintain a daily to-do list and check off 70% of their tasks each day. And they’re not just obsessed with short-term plans. Seventy percent of the wealthy surveyed set long-term goals, as well.

No Long Lunches

Taking a long, leisurely lunch isn’t a wealthy habit, either. Instead, 55% network, wheel and deal between bites.

Calorie Counting

Speaking of eating, rich folks are big calorie counters. Corley found most wealthy people limit alcoholic consumption and keep junk food snacks to just 300 calories per day, not just so that they can fit into their skinny jeans. “Wealthy people are healthy people. To wealthy people being healthy is about making more money,” says Corley. “If they’re healthy they have fewer sick days, they’re exercising, they have more energy, they maintain health their entire lives so they can work longer careers.”

Limited Internet or TV

Finally, when it’s time to punch out at the end of the day, how do you unwind? Head to the bar? Veg out in front of the TV? While most wealthy folks reported activities such as networking, volunteering and socializing, Corley found a majority of those struggling with their finances spent more than an hour on recreational Internet use, and were twice as likely to hop on Facebook every day.

My Self-accessment

Early Riser? Nope. I’m a midnight-go-to-sleep, 8 a.m. wake-up kind of guy. BUT I spend hours reading success-oriented books and magazines.

Keep a Running List of Tasks? Getting better at this. Use a legal pad to list the day’s activities and check ‘em off when I’m done.

No Long Lunches? That’a tough one. Author Michael Hyatt suggests a 20 minute ‘power nap’ after lunch. Is the nap part of ‘lunch’?

Calorie Counting? After being over-weight for years, I’ve starting eating 2 Isagenix (I’m not trying to sell you Isagenix!) shakes as meals each day and one regular meal. I’ve lost 30 pounds and feel better. Exercise? Not so much.

Limited Internet or TV. I use the internet for research, so I think I’m Okay with that; and, other than football season, “GO, PACK, GO!” NEVER turn on the TV.

OKay, how is your self-accessment going?

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