How to Make $1 Million Before Turning 40 With the Power of Journaling

Seventy-eight percent of workers live paycheck to paycheck, and almost 75 percent are in debt (Friedman, 2019). You don’t want to find yourself in the same situation, so you need a strategy to put money in the bank and earn your first million before turning 40.

BlogSelf DevelopmentHow to Make $1 Million Before Turning 40 With the Power of Journaling

Seventy-eight percent of workers live paycheck to paycheck, and almost 75 percent are in debt (Friedman, 2019). You don’t want to find yourself in the same situation, so you need a strategy to put money in the bank and earn your first million before turning 40. When you tell people your goal, they might scoff at you. After all, $1 million is a ton of money, so they don’t understand how you’ll do it. While it’s true that you’ll have a hard time reaching your goal without a plan, that all changes once you develop a strategy that includes journaling. Study after study shows that writing your goals down increases your chances of achieving them. Let’s look at the research and then go over some tips for earning that first million before reaching 40. Then, you can enjoy financial freedom, and you might even get to retire early. 

Become Successful by Writing Down Your Goals 

You might have heard of Marie Forleo. Oprah named her one of the thought leaders of the next generation, and along with teaching entrepreneurs, she runs a successful podcast and web TV show. She’s also a self-made millionaire because she listened to researchers who discovered that writing down your goals is the key to success (Forleo, 2019). 

When writing about her success, Forleo mentions a study conducted by Dr. Gail Matthews at the Dominican University of California (Gardner, 2015).  Matthews recruited 267 men and women between the ages of 23 and 72. The participants came from all walks of life and included health care professionals, bankers, artists, lawyers, educators, and entrepreneurs. 

Dr. Matthews divided the participants into five groups. Participants in Group 1 thought about a goal they wanted to accomplish and rated it based on the level of difficulty, importance, and ability to achieve it. They also thought about whether they had tried to achieve the goal in the past. If they had, they thought about their success or lack thereof at achieving the goal in the past. 

Jot Down Your Goals

Groups 2-5 didn’t just think about their goals. They wrote them down and included information about the level of difficulty, importance, and ability to accomplish them. Like Group 1, they wrote down if they had tried to achieve the goal in the past, and if they did, what happened. 

Group 3 went even further by writing action commitments for the goals. Group 4 also wrote action commitments and then shared the commitments with a trusted friend.

Group 5 did everything the previous groups did, while also sending a friend weekly progress reports about the goal. 

When you look at the study results, it’s clear that writing your goals down can help you accomplish them.

First, let’s look at the first group. Remember, this group didn’t do any writing. Only 43 percent of the participants were halfway to accomplishing their goals or completed them.  That ticked up to 62 percent in Group 4 and 76 percent in Group 5.

Dr. Matthews states that this study proved that three things are critical for accomplishing goals. The three things are accountability, commitment, and writing them down.

You can have access to all three things with a journaling program. Along with having a place to journal, you can build a habit that creates commitment. The program can even text you to hold you accountable, or you can match up with a coach to guide you along the way. When you have access to all three things, you will be that much closer to becoming a millionaire before 40.

Write Vividly to Accomplish Your Goals

Mark Murphy is a New York Times bestselling author and the founder of Leadership IQ. He’s also studied the impact of writing and reaching goals (Murphy, 2018). According to Murphy, writing down your goals isn’t enough. You need to describe them so vividly that if someone else saw the paper, he or she would know exactly what you are describing without you providing any additional information. Vividly describing goals make you 1.2 to 1.4 more times likely to accomplish them, so this is a good habit to develop if you want to become a millionaire.

You might wonder, “Why do I need to write my goals down? Why can’t I just think about them in vivid detail?”

When you write your goals down, two things happen. First, your writing is stored externally, meaning it’s located outside of your brain. You can access and review your journal at any time. This provides a visual cue that reminds you to stay on track to reach your goal of making $1 million before you turn 40. That can come in handy when you need a reminder of what you’re working for and why it’s crucial to put in the work. 

Second, when you write something down, the process of encoding takes place. During encoding, information travels to the brain’s hippocampus. The information is analyzed, and your brain decides if it should be discarded or stored in your long-term memory. When you write your goals down, they’re much more likely to be stored in your long-term memory, so you’ll remember them. Your goals will stick with you, no matter where you go. 

Interestingly, if you were to read someone else’s goal, you wouldn’t retain it nearly as well due to the generation effect. When you generate material, you’re more likely to remember it. The generation effect is on display twice when you write down goals. First, you create a goal when it comes to your mind. Second, you regenerate the thought when you write it down in your journal. You are essentially doubling the cognitive processing by first thinking it and then writing it. That causes the goal to stick in your brain. 

How to Achieve Millionaire Status Before 40

Now you know that writing things down will help you reach your goals. However, if you want to become a millionaire before the age of 40, you can’t just write that down and wait for it to happen. You have to take actionable steps to reach the million-dollar mark. Incorporate these strategies and write about each one in your journal. Then, you will start accumulating wealth, and eventually, you will reach the coveted million-dollar mark. 

Max Out Your 401k Contributions Every Year

In 2019, the IRS announced that it was increasing 401(k) contribution limits by $500 in 2020 (Elkins, 2019). That means instead of investing up to $19,000 a year, you can contribute up to $19,500 if you’re under 50. If your employer matches your 401(k), you can acquire quite a nest egg. You won’t access the money until you retire, but you’ll still build assets. This is the perfect way to start on the path to reaching a million dollars before turning 40.

Start by writing down your goal of contributing the maximum amount. Then, write down how this will help you in the future. Talk about how you’ll retire comfortably due to the high contributions. Journaling about the outcome will help you if money gets tight. You’ll remember that you are doing this, so you can reach an important goal. 

You can also use your journal to help you create and stick to a budget. Budgeting will help you make your contributions while still paying your bills. 

Automate Your Finances

Chris Reining has a simple tip for becoming a millionaire before you hit 40. According to Reining, you need to automate your finances (Elkins, 38-year-old retired millionaire: One simple habit leads to wealth, 2017).

Let’s back up for a second. Reining started his career with a job in IT, and he was happy. He did everything that he was supposed to do, such as buying a condo and a BMW. He even shopped at Whole Foods each week, so it’s clear he was living the middle-class lifestyle. It didn’t take long for the 9-to-5 grind to wear him down, though. He kind of felt like he was living in Groundhog Day, just repeating the same things over and over.

He decided to challenge himself by setting a goal to build a $1 million portfolio. He was in his late 20s, and he wanted to hit the mark by 35. The clock was ticking, so he needed to get moving quickly. 

He decided to automate his finances. Instead of making decisions about where the money would go, he set it up, so he automatically paid his bills and put money into savings each month. This allowed him to override people’s natural disposition to take smaller rewards today instead of waiting for bigger rewards in the future. It’s called hyperbolic temporal discounting, and it essentially means people prefer present rewards over future ones, even if the present rewards are smaller (Adrian M. Haith, 2012).  Because he bypassed this thought process, he was able to bank money without fighting against his impulses. 

Journaling will cement your goal in your mind, making it easier for you to stick to this plan. It has another benefit, as well. Writing in a gratitude journal can increase your patience and self-control (Greater Good Science Center, 2018). That, in turn, will make it easier for you to stick with your plan. If you decide to start a gratitude journal to help you reach your goals, use gratitude journal prompts. The prompts will get you started as you write in your journal. Then, it will become easier and easier until it’s finally second nature. 

Start a Business

Starting your own business can help you reach your goal of bringing in $1 million. Unlike working for someone else, the sky really is the limit when you work for yourself. As long as there are customers to reach, you can continue to increase your revenue.

You don’t have to look to find successful entrepreneurs who are raking in the big bucks. Take Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, for example (Shin, 2017). After earning her MBA, she entered the job market as a financial analyst. She was making around $50,000 plus bonuses each year, which isn’t bad for someone fresh out of college. She used the money she had to get out of debt, but she wanted more.

Eventually, she started a blog titled Making Sense of Cents. The blog offers easy-to-follow tips on saving and making money. She also publishes income reports on her blog that show how much money she makes. She monetized her blog and started offering courses, and now, it’s not unusual for her to make over $100,000 a month. Instead of trying to make her first million by a certain age, she makes over a million a year. Just imagine how much that can add up to in the next several years. She’s on a tear, and it doesn’t look like anything can slow down the money-making machine she’s created. 

Ben Simkin is another example of getting rich by starting a business (Gilchrist, 2020). A self-taught computer programmer, he started his own software and IT company at the age of 20. Fast forward four years, and he sold the business for seven figures. That’s not bad for a guy who got kicked out of high school for hacking the computer system. Back then, people probably thought he wouldn’t amount to anything, and now, he’s a millionaire. 

Simkin recommends creating an asset when starting a business. That way, you can sell the asset over and over, continuing to make money. He built online workshops and digital marketing tools, and both netted him a lot of money. If you can create an asset, you can continue to make money from it until you finally reach the million-dollar mark. Of course, you don’t have to stop at a million dollars. Once you reach your goal, set a new one, and keep selling the asset. You might be amazed by how much you can make. 

Regardless of the type of business you start, journaling can help. First, it can help you engage in some problem-solving before opening your business. Patrick Grove of Catcha Group provides an excellent example of this (Solomon, 2019). He walked into a Starbucks one day, grabbed a table, and wrote a question at the top of a page in his journal. He asked himself how he could make $100 million in a year. He went back to his journal over and over, coming up with ideas and writing solutions. Then, he chose a solution, created a goal, and managed to achieve it. By 2019, he was worth more than $400 million and growing. 

You can also use your journal to sketch out a business, get perspectives on different possibilities, and weed out bad ideas that might hold you back. By the end, you will have a goal to move toward as you open your business. That will help you succeed in business and earn your first $1 million. Then, you can start working toward your next million. 

Invest in an Existing Business

Do you know someone who’s in the early stages of what’s almost sure to be a successful start-up? It doesn’t have to be flashy, but if it looks like it will make money, invest in it. You can provide some start-up capital for a percentage of ownership. Then, if the business takes off, you’ll earn some profits. This will also give you the experience to enter into other ventures. 

Start small, and write about each opportunity in your journal. Weigh out the different options and then create a goal. Remember to write about the goal as vividly as possible, so it will stay at the forefront of your mind as you get closer to achieving it. That will put you in the position to seize profitable investment opportunities that net you lots of money. Eventually, that money can add up to over a million dollars and put you that much closer to an early retirement. 

Never Stop Learning

Millionaires tend to have a thirst for knowledge. They realize that the more they learn, the easier it will be to start a successful business or join in a new opportunity. The internet makes it easy to take classes and find information. Spend your days learning as much as you can. That hunger for knowledge will help you start new ventures down the road. As you start new ventures, you will get closer and closer to your goal.

Be sure to write about the things you learn in your journal. Remember, when you write it down, you make it easier to remember. Share interesting tidbits of information to cement it in your brain so you can remember it forever. 

Get a Mentor

If you want to earn a million dollars, consider getting a mentor. Mentors can help you fine-tune your business skills, so you’ll be ready to embrace opportunities that arise. There are a few things you need to keep in mind to ensure the process goes smoothly. 

Create your goals before finding a mentor. Your mentor will want to know your long- and short-term goals, so have them ready. Write them in your journal, so you don’t forget them before finding someone to mentor you.

Then, create an elevator pitch to use to get the person to mentor you. It should be short and to the point while explaining why you’d be an excellent mentee.

Don’t pitch just to anyone, though. Do your research and make sure the person is a good fit for a mentorship. You need to choose someone who has the tools to help you reach your goals.

Then, approach the person and make your pitch. You can find someone at your current office, or you can find a mentor online. You can also join groups in your area and find a mentor that way. Networking events are often full of people who are willing to take mentees under their wings. As you network, you will find people who would be a good fit and help you bring in your first million. 

When you find a mentor, be open with your goals. Explain that you want to reach the million-dollar mark, and you need guidance. You want to learn how to be as successful as your mentor. Mention that you use a journal to go over your goals. Your mentor will probably love this. Many of the most successful people write in journals, so your mentor will be pleased to know you’re on the right track.

You’ll want to keep your journal close during this process. Write down the things you learn and chart your progress when moving toward your goal of earning $1 million. 

Invest Instead of Buying a Home

You’ve probably heard that owning a home is a good investment, but that’s not really the truth (Elkins, Wealth manager: Buying a home is ‘usually a terrible investment’—here’s why, 2019). When you buy a house, you end up spending a lot of money on insurance, maintenance, property taxes, and more. Yes, your home might appreciate it, but you are unlikely to recoup all that you spend. Underestimating the hidden costs of ownership is the main reason why 63 percent of millennial homeowners regret the purchase (Leonhardt, 2019). It’s also a reason why some people don’t join the millionaire club before turning 40. It’s hard to become a millionaire when you’re spending so much money on household costs. 

Instead of buying a home, rent, and then invest the money you spend. Let’s look at an example, so you understand this better. Then, you’ll see why it makes sense to rent a house or apartment. 

Assume you live in Brooklyn, and your rent is $2,500 a month. If you were to buy a home instead of rent, the monthly costs would likely double to $5,000. Take the money you save each month and invest it in a low-cost, diversified index fund. These funds generally payout 7 percent in annualized returns. Real estate generally doesn’t appreciate to that degree, so you can expect to make much more money this way. Plus, if the air conditioner breaks, it’s on the landlord instead of you. That will save you a lot of money. 

Make sure to fill your journal with ideas for investments, so you can maximize your earnings. Keep your investments at the forefront of your mind, so you can get rich. 

Develop Multiple Streams of Income

If you want to become wealthy, increase your streams of income. Thomas Corley literally wrote the book on being rich. It’s called “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.” He studied the daily habits of rich and poor people and discovered that the most successful have multiple streams of income (Corley, 2015). Sixty-five percent of the most successful self-made millionaires had three streams of income, while 45 percent had four. Then, 29 percent had five or more streams of income. 

By having multiple streams of income, you won’t be as affected if the market takes a downturn. You also won’t lose it all if one of your businesses fails. While it might seem overwhelming to create different streams of income, you can do it by starting a side business. Then, take your additional income and invest it. 

You will need extra motivation to make this work, so turn to your journal regularly. It’s just what you need to turn your goals into reality. Then, when you open your journal, you’ll remember what you’re working toward, and you’ll be excited about making your first million. 

Eliminate Your Debt

If you have debt, you’re going to have a difficult time reaching millionaire status. You can pay off your debts quickly by building what’s called a debt snowball (Ramsey, n.d.). This method is really easy to follow, and it will help you get out of debt soon.

You’ll pay off your debts in order, from the smallest to the largest. The interest rate doesn’t matter. You’ll go in the order based on how much you owe. 

You’ll put as much money as you possibly can toward the smallest debt while making the minimum payments on all the other debts. When you pay off your first debt, go to the next smallest debt, and pay it off. Continue this process until each debt is paid off entirely, and you’re debt-free except for your mortgage if you choose to have one. 

Then, when you are finally free from debt, you’ll have extra money to invest. You can use that money to grow your wealth and finally become a millionaire. 

Journaling can help you in multiple ways when it comes to the debt snowball method. First, of course, journaling helps you reach your goals, so writing about following the debt snowball method is the first step in making it happen. Second, you can use your journal to organize your debts and payments. Finally, you can use your journal to chart your progress. As you knock your debs out one by one, you’ll feel motivated to continue. You will love opening your journal and seeing all the progress you’ve made. 

Don’t Borrow Money for Depreciating Assets

When you are out of debt, you can finally make your money work for you. However, that’s hard to do if you take out loans for depreciating assets such as vehicles. You are essentially borrowing money to lose money. You might need to have a car, but you can downsize and get one you can afford with cash. Then, you’ll have more money to invest. 

Invest Wisely

Technology has opened the door for everyone to invest. People download apps and invest without any real market knowledge, and this is creating a significant problem. 

The Robinhood investment platform provides an excellent example of the dangers of investing when you don’t know what you’re doing. You can invest in stocks, options, and ETFs on the site, and each investment is commission-free. You just download the app and start investing, even if you’ve never done it before.

Unfortunately, users buy and sell risky products, and most do so without following any sort of strategy. This can lead to heartbreaking and wealth-busting losses.

Richard Dobatse was one such investor (Popper, 2020). The Navy medic had done a bit of stock trading in the past, but it was infrequent, so he was far from an expert. That changed when he downloaded the Robinhood app in 2017. The one-click trading platform lured him in, and he was excited about having access to complex investment products. Add in the confetti and other features that made it seem like a game, and it didn’t take long for him to be hooked. 

He started by funding his account with credit card advances that totaled $15,000. After losing that, he took out $30,000 in home equity loans. His balance eventually fell to just under $7,000, meaning he’d lost close to $40,000. Actually, his losses were greater than that when you consider the interest he paid on the home equity loans and credit card advances.

Some would say that Dobatse got away lucky, though, when you consider the story of Alexander Kearns (Gara, 2020). The 20-year-old college student started using the Robinhood app during the coronavirus pandemic. He panicked when he saw his account balance was negative $730,165 and wrote a note asking how someone his age could get close to a million dollars in leverage. After writing the letter, he took his life. 

There’s speculation that Kearns was trading a bull put spread, and his account had yet to reconcile, so he didn’t actually have that negative balance. Regardless of if his account was negative or not, it’s clear that the markets are difficult to understand, and it’s hard to get rich if you aren’t experienced.

Aggressive investments can help you reach your million-dollar goal, and you can mitigate the risk by hiring a financial advisor or broker. Go over your goals and include them in your journal. Use your journal to keep track of your goals and make sure you’re moving closer toward them. If you aren’t reaching your goals, it’s time to look for a different financial adviser or broker.

Cut Unnecessary Expenses

Many of the most successful people get and stay that way by living below their means. They don’t shell out money for unnecessary expenses. If you want to become a millionaire, it’s time to cut unnecessary costs.

Start by opening your journal and writing out each of the expenses that you have. Think about everything you spend each month, both subscription and on-the-fly purchases. Then, start cutting your costs, so you’ll have more money to invest. 

Begin by looking at your automatic renewals, including music streaming services, television services, and gym memberships. You can get away with cutting lots of them out, so do so. Then, stop dining out and see if you can bundle your insurance to save money. The more ways you can save, the easier it will be to reach your goals.

Don’t forget to put it all in writing. You need to commit to making these changes, so they’ll stick. As you now know, the easiest way to do that is to write your goals down in your journal. 

Hang Out With Millionaires

One of the best ways to become a millionaire is to hang out with people who have already achieved that goal. Millionaires tend to think differently than everyone else, and when you spend time with them, that way of thinking will rub off on you (Martin, 2017).

First, millionaires tend to think long-term. They aren’t so immersed in the present that they ignore the potential that the future provides. Some of their goals span decades, and that kind of thinking can help you as you increase your earning potential. 

Millionaires also embrace change. The middle and lower classes are often afraid of change since they can be disruptive. However, the best opportunities often come with change. It will help you learn to be confident in the face of change and teach you how to embrace the different opportunities that come your way. This can be the key to becoming a millionaire. 

Millionaires are also known for asking themselves empowering questions, such as how they can earn millions of dollars doing something they love. On the other hand, less successful people typically ask disempowering questions that cause them to get stuck in a rut. 

They are also constantly learning and willing to share information with others. You can pick their brains and learn along with them. Then, you’ll be in the position to embrace opportunities instead of letting them pass you up. These are just some of the ways that millionaires think differently. 

Join clubs and groups where millionaires are likely to assemble and make some friends. Then, you can begin thinking like a millionaire. As your thoughts change, represent them in your journal. Then, reread the pages to see the shift in action. It’s an amazing thing when you start thinking like a millionaire. It won’t be long before the money follows. 

Start Journaling Your Way to a Million Dollars Today

Now is the right time to start a journaling habit. Create your goals, write them down, and get to work. Write daily, so you can get closer and closer to your goals. Keep track of your progress, and look back to see how far you’ve come. You’ll be shocked by how easy it is to stay on track when you use a journal. Your goals will remain a priority, and each day, you will do something that puts you closer to reaching them. 


Adrian M. Haith, T. R. (2012, August 22). Evidence for Hyperbolic Temporal Discounting of Reward in Control of Movements. Retrieved from

Compton, J. (2018, April 10). How to get out of debt and build a ‘wealth snowball’. Retrieved from

Corley, T. C. (2015, May 27). The majority of self-made millionaires have a similar approach to earning money. Retrieved from

Elkins, K. (2017, April 19). 38-year-old retired millionaire: One simple habit leads to wealth. Retrieved from

Elkins, K. (2017, April 19). 38-year-old retired millionaire: One simple habit leads to wealth. Retrieved from

Elkins, K. (2019, November 14). The IRS increased 401(k) contribution limits by $500—here’s how much money you’d have if you max out your plan. Retrieved from

Elkins, K. (2019, April 18). Wealth manager: Buying a home is ‘usually a terrible investment’—here’s why. Retrieved from

Forleo, M. (2019, September 13). Self-made millionaire: The simple strategy that helped increase my odds of success by 42%. Retrieved from

Friedman, Z. (2019, January 11). 78% Of Workers Live Paycheck To Paycheck. Retrieved from

Gara, S. K. (2020, June 17). 20-Year-Old Robinhood Customer Dies By Suicide After Seeing A $730,000 Negative Balance. Retrieved from

Gardner, S. a. (2015). Study focuses on strategies for achieving goals,. Retrieved from

Gilchrist, K. (2020, February 13). Self-made millionaire shares 5 tips for building a million-dollar income stream. Retrieved from

Greater Good Science Center. (2018, May). The Science of Gratitude. Retrieved from

Leonhardt, M. (2019, March 1). 63% of millennials who bought homes have regrets—usually because they missed this one crucial step. Retrieved from

Martin, E. (2017, April 6). If you want to be a millionaire, start thinking like one. Retrieved from

Murphy, M. (2018, April 15). Neuroscience Explains Why You Need To Write Down Your Goals If You Actually Want To Achieve Them. Retrieved from,You%20are%2042%20percent%20more%20likely%20to%20achieve%20your%20goals,tasks%20necessary%20for%20your%20success

Popper, N. (2020, July 8). Robinhood Has Lured Young Traders, Sometimes With Devastating Results. Retrieved from

Ramsey, D. (n.d.). How the Debt Snowball Method Works. Retrieved from

Shin, L. (2017, January 26). How This 27-Year-Old Made $1 Million Last Year. Retrieved from

Solomon, G. (2019, May 15). How Patrick Grove Journals His Way To Millions. Retrieved from

Tabaka, M. (2019, January 28). 

New Study Says This Simple Step Will Increase the Odds of Achieving Your Goals (Substantially)

. Retrieved from