The problem with following the habits of “successful people”

I was reading an article on what “rich people do” that implied that if you wanted to become rich, you should do what they do.

The problem with these sorts of articles, as I’m sure has been explored many times before, is manifold. Firstly, they’re talking about what rich or successful people do now. That is, after they’re rich or successful. Secondly, it could be more a case of correlation as opposed to causation (does eating more healthful foods really make you rich?) And thirdly, they ignore the hordes of people who may already be doing what “successful” people do and yet, as luck would have it, remain unsuccessful.

For example, in the article I cited above:

  • If you’re rich, you tend to eat less junk food — maybe it’s because better food makes you think and behave in ways that will make you rich, but maybe it’s just that when you’re rich you’re able to have access to better food?
  • If you’re rich, you tend to keep your cards closer to your chest — maybe it’s because saying what’s on your mind causes people to think negatively of you. But it could also be a case of “what got you here won’t get you there” — who knows if it might well be that keeping your cards closer to your chest while in the “lower rungs”, so-to-speak, will prevent you from being noticed from the corporate bigwigs?
  • If you’re rich, you tend to set goals — maybe setting goals does get you rich. But it could also be a case of looking at the past and fabricating a cohesive narrative from a haphazard life. I have a hypothesis that goes like this: if you set a goal and failed, you’re more likely to forget having set that goal than if you’d set a goal and succeeded. This would mean that goals leading to success (whatever that is) may be overrepresented?

I’m not saying it’s entirely worthless to study what rich and successful people do, but certainly not in the way it’s currently popularly done.

Rich people tend to drive nice cars. If that’s an activity that’d get me rich, I’m all for it.

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