7 steps to become a physician millionaire

By Naveed Saleh, MD, MS, for MDLinx
Published March 4, 2020

Key Takeaways

The number of millionaires per country is attributable to three national factors: the size of the adult population, mean wealth, and wealth inequality. The United States outperforms in all three categories, and is home to 40% of the world’s millionaires, per the 2019 Credit Suisse global wealth report

Undoubtedly, there are easier ways of becoming a millionaire than by becoming a physician. The vast majority of physicians are, after all, motivated to help others with their health problems, with financial security merely a benefit or afterthought. But, you have worked hard, and you may be wondering what steps you can take to reach such an enviable and comfortable financial status (preferably, sooner rather than later).

Ultimately, becoming a millionaire is less about taking specific steps and more about adjusting your mindset, habits, foresight, flexibility, and goals. With this in mind, here are seven steps you can take to reach millionaire status, according to the expertise of organizational psychologist and best-selling author Benjamin Hardy, PhD.

Take stock every 90 days. Like Rome, a burgeoning bank account cannot be built in a day. Every 90 days, take a break and look back on your financial progress from the previous 90 days. Focus on a few financial milestones, and assess what worked during this period and what didn’t work. 

When thinking about your finances, learn what either mediated your success or contributed to missed financial goals. For the next 90-day period, focus on making a few changes with these lessons in mind. Remember: Short-term goals build into long-term financial success. Remain open to pivoting your financial strategy.

Get in the zone. To become a millionaire, it’s helpful to visualize what it’s like to be a millionaire. Develop a morning routine and follow it—because routines are intrinsically linked to the future. It’s important to start thinking like a millionaire now. One of the most critical components of getting into the millionaire mindset is thinking before spending. Do you really need that new, souped-up Mercedes? Can you afford to go on that luxury cruise without compromising your financial health? 

On a related note, don’t be wasteful. We often throw out more food, paper, and reusable items than necessary. If you run your own practice, being more mindful of how office supplies are used can be a great cost saver. However, it’s important to strike a balance between being a packrat and being frugal. The bottom line is that being thrifty and smart in your spending habits can go a long way in improving your financial health.

Change up the scenery. With the goal of becoming a millionaire in mind, it helps to surround yourself with and learn from like-minded professionals who’ve achieved this goal. Additionally, get rid of distractions, such as mindless scrolling on your smartphone, which will not further your financial goals. Importantly, develop partnerships and mentorships with those you admire—kindred spirits who will inspire you.

First understand, then be understood. A mentor is a wonderful resource. As mentioned above, a mentor can take the guise of a like-minded professional who has achieved millionaire status or a professional financial advisor who can offer valuable insight into how you can reach your goals. The key to benefitting from these key resources and their expertise, however, is this: silence. Although there’s nothing wrong with showcasing your own knowledge, sometimes it’s better to take a step back to listen and observe—especially when you’re learning something new and highly complex. Sure, you can contribute to the conversation, but only after you understand the relevant context. 

Focus on results. Achieving millionaire status is a Machiavellian endeavor. Worrying about the process can be a detriment to the endgame in sight. Instead, let your goals dictate your approach. Bill Gates, for example, uses the “OKR” method when undertaking any project to meet his objectives.

“OKR calls for first setting objectives (the ‘O’ in OKR), meaning [define] what you want to accomplish; [objectives] should be significant, action-oriented and aspirational. Then, identify key results (‘KR’) that [will] help you meet your objectives. Key results should be specific, measurable and verifiable,” according to a CNBC article that details Gates’ approach to goal-setting.

For instance, you might set a goal of becoming a millionaire in 5 years. To accomplish that, a key result might be to grow your financial wealth by 20% by the end of Year 1. Setting this objective will push you in the right direction, while the key result can be used as a metric for success along the way.

“Having a good mission is not enough. You need a concrete objective, and you need to know how you’re going to get there,” notes Gates.

Build a team. When you were on the road to becoming a physician, you focused on what you needed to do to succeed. However, becoming a millionaire and attaining financial independence requires a team mentality. Find the right people to help with your goal, whether they be financial advisors, business partners, contracted professionals such as attorneys, or colleagues. Seek out help from others—especially when unsure.

Stay nimble. When a financial experience opens your eyes to a new and better way of doing things, it’s wise to incorporate these lessons into all relevant aspects of your life. Change to meet your financial goals, and make these changes expeditiously. Also, don’t rest on your laurels and dwell on past financial success. Always be looking toward bigger and better opportunities.

For millionaires, the freedom that millions of dollars affords directly reflects their worldviews and approach to life. Also, flexibility is essential and timelines, idiosyncratic. For some, reaching the goal of becoming a millionaire may take 5 years or less, while for others, it can take a bit more time. But, with the right attitude and tools, it can be done!

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