4 Steps to Financial Independence

Financial success is rarely the result of one defining event in a person's life. Rather, it’s more likely the result of good money habits over months and years. It's not complicated: people can achieve financial success by demonstrating a few smart behaviors.

Here are four smart money behaviors to help you achieve financial success:

1. Discipline and Commitment to Financial Goals

Long-term financial success doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, lasting financial success is usually the result of being disciplined with your money and committed to your financial goals.

Achieving financial goals, similar to reaching physical fitness goals, happens when you commit to a plan of action and stick to it. It will require a time where you say no to certain types of spending to prioritize larger goals. When it comes to your money, it’s a zero-sum game. Each dollar you make can only be either spent or saved, which means you can only allocate toward one goal at a time. You have to stick with the plan and make the tough choice. (For more from this author, see: 3 Crucial Tips for Living Within Your Means.)

If it feels hard, it’s because it is. If financial discipline were easy, everyone would be able to do it.

2. Patience in Investing

Patience is a key behavior of the financially successful. Why? Because when you are patient and stick with an investment plan, you can trigger your greatest advantage as an investor, compound interest. The problem with compound interest is that it takes a long time for the real benefits to kick in. It doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, your dollar begins to exponentially grow after years 35 and 40. That’s a long time to invest and ride the ups and downs of the market. But it’s worth it. (For more from this author, see: Understanding the Power of Compound Interest.)

3. Motivation to Reach Financial Independence

Along with being disciplined and patient, the road to financial success is filled with motivated individuals who are enthusiastic about reaching their vision for financial independence. Motivation is the characteristic that will help you continue to push forward even when your financial path is inevitably impacted by unforeseen detours.

Negative events like the loss of income or illness can affect your personal finances, even when you are prepared with an emergency fund or adequate insurance coverage. Positive events like the birth of a child or a need to relocate with a new job or promotion can also create speed bumps on your path to financial success.

The path to your financial goals will not be a straight line. It will be filled with loops and even a few steps backward. However, remaining motivated to reach your financial goals and making necessary adjustments to your moves along the way can only help you achieve the long-term financial success you seek.

4. Keep Calm

The investment world, despite what you see on TV, is a place for calm deliberation, not emotion-fueled decisions. This can be a difficult lesson for some people to learn, especially those who are passionate by nature. But there's nothing more important to your financial success than exercising objective decision-making.

The market is going to fluctuate whether you want it to or not, so you have to be prepared to stay the course until it becomes stable again (and it will). The same thing applies when sudden spikes occur. It's important not to act in a reactionary way to either of these conditions. Stay calm and confident no matter what happens and you'll maximize your success over the long haul. (For related reading, see: Logic: The Antidote to Emotional Investing.)

It’s when people feel insecure about their finances and want instant gratification that they wind up chasing returns and trying to time the market that financial missteps occur. 

Winning Financial Behaviors Lead to Your Goals

It's an uncertain world, especially when it comes to finances. It's natural to experience doubt and trepidation when considering your financial future. Fortunately, this anxiety doesn't have to consume you or force you into poor decisions. By following these guidelines for winning financial behaviors, you’re that much closer to reaching your financial goals. 

(For more from this author, see: 4 Steps to Help You Build Wealth Right Now.)