Yes, opportunity is knocking for American investors. Less than two weeks ago Spectrem Group of Chicago released its latest annual report of American millionaires. About 200,000 new millionaires were added last year, for a new total of 8.6 million.
True, that's less than the 9.5 million at the 2006 peak, but it's still great news along with the Dow industrial's 994 point first-quarter rally of 8.1% first quarter ending last Friday, two clearly positive signs of a recovery.
In short, you can still become a millionaire. Here's the secret: It's all in your head, your attitude, your state of mind. If you want to retire a millionaire, you can. Here's how: You control your mind.
A few decades in business, and years writing about behavioral economics and psychology have convinced me of this one simple truth: Becoming a millionaire really is all in your head. It has little to do with wealth-building techniques, tools and rules.
In fact, you could forget all the usual stuff: asset allocation, stock picking, savings plans, budgeting and so on. I know, that's what the experts tell you to focus on. But if you're not in the right state of mind, none of that matters.
Seriously, I've read the books: "The Millionaire Mind," "Instant Millionaire," "Automatic Millionaire," "Millionaire Next Door," "One-Minute Millionaire" and many more. Even wrote a couple, "The Millionaire Code" and "The Millionaire Meditation" and worked on Wall Street as an investment banker with Morgan Stanley.
But I keep coming back to this one simple fact: Becoming a millionaire really is all in your head. Period. No excuses. You decide to become a millionaire and it will happen in a bear market, a bad economy or riding a bull.
So here are the 10 best tips I picked up over the decades, tips that'll help you become one of America's next millionaires:
1. Getting rich isn't about money
Fidelity's Peter Lynch often said, if you spend 15 minutes a year studying the economy, that's 10 minutes too much. And when money guru Ric Edelman researched 5,000 millionaires for "Ordinary People, Extraordinary Wealth," he discovered that millionaires spend an average of just 6 minutes a day on personal finance. They have better things to do.
2. Think different
Go inside "The Millionaire Mind" with author George Stanley: "They think differently from the crowd it pays to be different." Yes, it builds wealth. Go where there's a unique opportunity that fits your unique talents. That's "the central theme" of Stanley's work: Don't fit in, go your way.
3. Accentuate the positive
Most of us have read books like Napoleon Hill's classic, "Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude." That message hit home in "Fast Company" by a Special Forces instructor, a veteran of 26 years: "If you have a guy with all the survival training in the world who has a negative attitude and a guy who doesn't have a clue but has a positive attitude, I guarantee you that the guy with a positive attitude is coming out of the woods alive. Simple as that." As a Marine veteran, I know he's on the money.
4. Quit doing what you hate
Many people live in quiet desperation, waiting for retirement, doing something they hate. Marcus Buckingham put it very simply in his winning book, "The One Thing You Need to Know": "Figure out what you don't like doing, then stop doing it."
5. Do what you love
You've heard all the pep talks: Follow your bliss; do what you love, money will follow. But most of all, never forget Stanley's bottom line: "If you are creative enough to select the ideal vocation, you can win, win big-time. The really brilliant millionaires are those who selected a vocation that they love."
6. Find 'the real you'
Working in a career that doesn't fit right is exhausting and stressful. You're less efficient, less productive and underperform. Get in sync with the real you. Get help from a career counselor, if necessary. Read books on personality types. In "The Millionaire Code" I identify 16 basic types to help future millionaires focus on their dreams. Buckingham's "Now Discover Your Strengths" is another example. Find the real you, go for it and never turn back.
7. Invest in 'You Inc.'
Tired of working for Corporate America? Become an entrepreneur. Create your own business. Read Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" series. Browse through "EBay for Dummies." Open a restaurant, dry cleaner or scrap-metal yard. Stanley's lists of millionaires includes a lot of unexpected opportunities others missed. And remember, most millionaires work for themselves, pay less taxes and build equity in themselves.
8. Live with passion
Believe in something. Listen to the still small voice. What is it: Love, family, jazz, art, golf, writing, fishing, inventing, charity work? Whatever it is, it's you. And it's priceless. My mentor Joseph Campbell, the inspiration for George Lucas' Star Wars, and author of "The Hero of a Thousand Faces," tells us: "If you follow your bliss, you will always have your bliss, money or not. If you follow money, you may lose it, and you will have nothing." Yes, even Campbell had a millionaire's mind.
9. Live in the moment
Warren Buffett goes to work "tap-dancing." He once told a group of University of Nebraska students: "I get up every day and have a chance to do what I love to do, every day. If you learn anything from me, this is the best advice I can give you." Take it. We all live in the moment, that's his, discover yours and live yours. Live every day to the fullest.
10. Make a difference
This one may be the real key to a being a successful millionaire, even before you have the money: We all have a daily pressures that demands we balance loved ones and family, the latest deal, client, customer and boss, our little world today and our future. Millionaires dream of making the world a better place, with visions of a better tomorrow for everyone. They love helping people, getting rich in spirit as well as in fact. I'll bet you have a dream. Something that really satisfies you deep in your soul. Discover the real meaning of your life, go beyond yourself. You can get rich and make a difference too.
Remember, being a millionaire is all in your head. If you have the right attitude, if you feel it, if you believe you're a millionaire, you're already there, already rich. You have the mind of the millionaire. Money will follow. It really does work.