How to Become a Self Made Man or Woman

Three Methods:Taking ActionDeveloping Your PersonalityStaying Humble

A self-made man or woman is one who who is able to rise above their humble origins to leave behind a lasting legacy. Through sheer determination, discipline, and strength of character, the self-made man or woman can overcome poverty or other hardships through education and hard work. Leave your mark in business, politics, or society by taking control of your life and becoming a self-made person.

Method 1
Taking Action

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    Overcome poverty. A defining characteristic of the self-made person is being born to a poor family, then later achieving great financial success. Oprah Winfrey, for instance, grew up wearing potato sacks to school, but is now worth over $3 billion. There are several ways to overcome poverty:[1]
    • Work hard at your job.[2] Working hard is a crucial part of bettering yourself. Even if you hate your job, if you work hard, you could earn a raise, a promotion, or open the door to other opportunities later.
    • Save your money. Save all your receipts over the course of a month to draft a personal budget. In one column, calculate all the money you spent, and in the other, calculate all the money you earned. Identify expenditures you can reduce or eliminate in order to save as much of your money as possible.
    • Always be on the lookout for new opportunities. Browse classifieds in your local paper or online. Sites like Craigslist, LinkedIn, and offer opportunities to connect with employers and post your own resume for employers to look over.
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    Educate yourself.[3] Education could be formal or informal. A formal education is more expensive, but it will also expose you to more ideas and open you to new opportunities.
    • If you wish to pursue formal education, talk to financial aid officers at local colleges and universities to find out what kind of incentives they offer.
    • When you find an institution of higher education that seems like a good fit for you, complete the necessary applications and attend classes faithfully.
    • If you wish to simply pursue informal education, read widely (both fiction and nonfiction) on a variety of topics. Your local library is a great resource for learning more about the world. Community education classes are often available for free, or at discounted rates.
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    Start your own business. The world’s most famous self-made people are generally good capitalists.[4][5] Think of an idea that you think would improve the world (or, at least, something that would make money). Draft a business proposal and present it to a loan officer at a financial institution. Obtain a loan, and hire qualified professionals who are as driven as you are.
    • Your business does not need to be radical or terribly original. For instance, you could start a magazine or self-help website.
    • If you are more scientifically inclined, you could use your talents to invent something that will improve people’s lives -- a new, more efficient medicine or water purification device, for example.
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    Engage in politics.[6] The self-made person often takes advantage of the opportunities of an open, democratic government in order to attain a political position. Using your political position to affect positive change will bring you personal fame and success.
    • Start small. Run for a city council position and get a feel for how the legislative process works. Other local positions like mayor or county commissioner might be open to you as well.
    • Work your way up to the state level. Run to represent your county in the state congress as a representative or senator. It’s good to have a bit of money at this level, since campaigns can get expensive.[7] You could raise money from donors or fund yourself.
    • If you feel especially ambitious, you could continue to the national level as a senator or representative in Washington.

Method 2
Developing Your Personality

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    Take risks.[8] Even if you’ve never been a business owner, for instance, don’t let that stop you from going forward with business ownership. Doing something new -- even something that could lift you out of your humble beginnings into a life of success -- can be scary. Don’t be afraid to do something that makes you uncomfortable. If you think you have a chance to be a great actor or actress, move to Hollywood. If you have an innovative computer design that could make you the next Steve Jobs, move to Silicon Valley.
    • Of course, your risks don’t have to be so dramatic. Sometimes just walking into the bank and applying for a loan can take you outside of your comfort zone.
    • Whatever you do, be brave, passionate, and bold. Dream big to become a self-made person.
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    Get to know yourself.[9] Learning to take control of your own life as a self-made person means recognizing who you really are. Take a hard look inside yourself and be honest about your personal strengths and weaknesses. Identify what you want in life.[10]
    • You can identify your strengths by thinking about things you do well. To identify your weaknesses, think about things you do not know how to do or do not do well, or your personal flaws. Sometimes it’s best to ask a close friend or family member to help you reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, since they might be more objective than you are.
    • Work to enhance your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. For instance, if you struggle with anger and a short temper, learn to slow down when you’re angry. Try deep breathing, yoga, and regular exercise to reduce your stress, since stress can amplify feelings of anger.
    • Believe in yourself. When you are realize you have the power to alter your destiny, you will begin making positive changes to realize your full potential.[11]
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    Practice self-reliance.[12] Self-reliance could take many forms, but all indicate that you don’t need anyone else to take care of yourself. Being self-reliant doesn’t mean you shun friends or family, or turn down help when it is offered. It simply means that you can carry on when things get hard, even without help from others. For example:
    • Teach yourself how to cook, clean, iron, and perform the basic tasks necessary for day-to-day living.[13]
    • Learn to read a map. Don’t depend on your GPS to take you everywhere.
    • Grow your own food. Raising fruits and vegetables takes time, but you’ll save money and trips to the grocery store. If you’re in the city and cannot cultivate a large garden, explore options for urban gardening or try to at least grow a few small potted berry plants in your apartment.
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    Structure your time.[14] Making yourself into the person you want to be means managing your time effectively. Devise a daily or weekly schedule with everything you needs and want to do and stick to it. Set an alarm clock for your bedtime and wake up time. Ensure you get about eight hours of sleep each night. Don’t forget to factor in downtime where you can relax and decompress.
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    Develop perseverance. Perseverance means the ability to overcome obstacles when pursuing a goal. To develop perseverance, don’t quit on your goals, even when things get hard. A good activity that can help you develop perseverance is distance running. You will face many challenges when distance running: fatigue, thirst, hunger, and even pain. However, even though you might slow your pace, do not stop. It is this willingness to push on through challenges that will help you become a self-made person.
    • Pushing yourself to the limit with any kind of physical exercise can help you learn to persevere.[15]
    • The military is a great place to develop perseverance. Military training requires you to overcome not only physical challenges but mental challenges, too. Both will develop your perseverance.
    • You could also start a business to develop perseverance. Continue to develop and grow your business even if others encourage you to sell it and believe it will fail.
    • Since everyone is faced with their own challenges in life, the specific circumstances under which you develop perseverance don’t really matter. What counts is setting specific, realistic goals and committing yourself to meeting them -- no matter what.[16]
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    Stay motivated. While having determination and perseverance means you have a willingness to stay the course, staying motivated means you have the power to stay the course. Whatever your goal, remind yourself of how important it is to see it through. For instance, if you’re struggling to save money, think about how much more secure you’ll feel when you have adequate savings. Staying motivated requires focusing on a better future, and with extra motivation it will be easier for you to stop buying unnecessary things that you want, but don’t need.[17]
    • In addition to staying motivated by thinking about future success, allow yourself occasional rewards for your hard work. For instance, if you have a business plan divided into various stages, celebrate with friends or family after accomplishing each step. This will give you the opportunity to celebrate your success, and inspire you to pursue even greater success at the next stage.
    • Think back on prior accomplishments to stay motivated.

Method 3
Staying Humble

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    Recognize that you had help along the way.[18] In truth, nobody is entirely self-made. Everyone got help from someone else at some point. Think of your educational path, for instance. If you attended university, you were inspired by your professors and fellow students. If you educated yourself at the library, your learning was enabled by the local government that funds the library and by the many authors of the books you read. Remember how interconnected we all are in order to stay humble despite your success.
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    Seek out people who you can learn from.[19] Read the books of others who have become self-made people and take their advice. Whether you imagine overcoming your struggles through education, business ownership, or public office (or a combination of these), seek out the advice and feedback of experts.
    • For instance, if you have a great idea for a tech business, find a mentor in the field and bounce it off of him or her. Use their feedback to guide your thinking.
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    Inspire others. Be generous with your new wealth by giving to worthy charities.[20] Live your life in an ethical way so as to gain respect for more than just earning wealth. Educate others on how they can best follow your path to success. Unlike individuals who were born rich or did little to earn their success, the self-made man or woman should always be thankful for the improved quality of life they have.


  • Focus on one virtue at a time. Once you have mastered one, move on to the next.
  • Learn from the example of self-made men and women that you can model yourself after. Be sure to find the person who inspires you the most, and try to model yourself after them.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Goal Realization & Problem Solving