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Why being financially “successful” is more attainable than you think

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All you need is the right outlook -- and success will come looking for you.

Whenever there’s a new survey out about what defines “success” in 2018, everyone wants to know the answers to compare and contrast against their own personal American dream. And this is even true when said survey is done by a heating company, where we can’t for the dickens figure out the connection between radiant flooring and successful life indicators, but anywho …

Let’s not waste time trying to puzzle that one out and get straight to the goods from 2,000 people who were asked what it means to “make it” in America today. And perhaps the best place to start is with what’s not on the list: Mansions! Millions and billions of dollars! Fame!

There were a few things that respondents of this survey said were necessary to secure their happiness and definition of success. Proving the old adage that money doesn’t buy happiness once again, the majority of people said making $150,000 a year and owning a home worth about $460,000, would hit their mark for financial success. And upward of 80 percent said they wouldn’t even want to make more than $1 million a year.

They just want enough money to pay for insurance and medical bills, be able to help friends and family out, and give money to charity.

Some other big indicators of “making it” that may (or may not) surprise you:

  • Being married
  • Having two kids
  • Earning a bachelor’s degree
  • Having four good friends
  • Working 31 hours a week
  • Or even better … working from home
  • Getting 5 weeks of vacation a year for travel

Notice the really cool trend? People seem to be putting their priorities in order and are more concerned with quality of life and relationships than the bottom line. Perhaps they have all watched this TED Talk (one of the most popular of all time) by Shawn Achor (author of The Happiness Advantage) on “The Happy Secret to Better Work.” Not surprisingly Achor’s work as a positive psychologist found that people had been getting the idea of success all wrong: making more money won’t lead to happiness — it’s the other way around. Being happy first paves the way other types of success, including financial, work, and social. A positive mindset opens your mind up to the creativity and ideas that lead to great jobs, promotions, encounters, relationships, and initiatives that provide personal fulfillment, and if they’re lucky, a comfortable income.

So do we all just snap our fingers and be happy? Of course, no one’s suggesting it’s that simple. But Achor, speaking with Forbes, provides positive-thinking steps that will get you working in that direction. Just do the first four items on this list for two minutes a day for 21 days:

1. Practice gratitude. Write down a few things you are grateful for every day.

2. Start a journal. Include something good that happened to you that day, and spend at least two minutes describing it. This article on how to journal can help.

3. Be kind. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture; sometimes an encouraging text or sentiment to someone’s Facebook wall is enough. You can get ideas here for secret acts of kindness and ways to practice being kinder.

4. Meditate or pray — here are some aids to help quiet you.

5. Exercise. This one you should do for at least 15-20 minutes of day, although if you really don’t have the time, try this 7-minute workout.

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