Get All Access for $5/mo

One Simple Trick to Retrain Your Mind to Think Like the World's Richest Men This shift will encourage both personal and professional growth. All it takes is thinking in a new way.

By Chris Estey Edited by Frances Dodds

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Win McNamee | Getty Images

Highly successful executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders share a number of traits in common — from habits to mindsets to personality markers. We should add "thinking in the future tense" to that list. Many situations in both business and life will get one thinking or talking about the past, but being mindful of focusing on the current moment is also valuable. A proven method in business (and in life) is to maintain a strong commitment to thinking about the future. There's a range of evidence to demonstrate this, from the anecdotal to the scientifically supported. Let's take a look at some of it:

Jeff Bezos' far-reaching goals

While Jeff may not win a popularity contest, he does embody future-oriented thinking. His approach to business strategy and planning is revealed in a seminar given at the Economic Club of Washington in 2018, where the Amazon founder revealed he was currently working on plans for a financial quarter as far out as 2023. Yes, five years in advance.

"When I have a good quarterly conference call with Wall Street," Bezos said, "people will stop me and say, "Congratulations on your quarter,' and I say, "Thank you,' but what I'm really thinking is that quarter was baked three years ago."

Elon Musk's eye on the future

Musk recently shot up the ranks of the world's richest at unprecedented speed. While anyone who has paid close attention to his career could have guessed that his success would continue, few would have predicted he'd become the world's richest person.

Related: A New Way of Thinking: The Key Ingredient to Creating Innovation

How did he do it? Many ways, of course, but one of those ways involves thinking about the future. Musk's obsession with the future and his success in building companies that capitalize on emerging technologies have earned him a reputation as one of the world's leading futurists. Making predictions about the future and building an organization to get there is his passion.

Team effort

Sure, but was Jeff Bezos "thinking about the future" when he was caught having an affair that eventually led to history's most expensive divorce? What about Elon Musk's Twitter antics, which led to an SEC investigation and his removal as Tesla's chairperson? Maybe it's fair to say they could both benefit from incorporating some of their business strategies into their personal lives. But, we all could probably benefit from doing that.

More importantly, growing a business isn't based on the thoughts and actions of just one person. It's about all the people that make it up. Bezos said this about his employees, "All of our senior executives operate the same way I do. They work in the future. They live in the future. None of the people who report to me should really be focused on the current quarter."

Reaping the benefits of a future-facing outlook is as much about influencing (and carefully choosing) the people around you as it is about policing your own thoughts.

Actual evidence

So — a pair of highly successful business people — that doesn't offer much proof, right? What about the fact they are the MOST successful business people? What if this whole notion was backed up by science? Turns out, it is. Thinking about the future — which researchers call "prospection" — is something that sets humans apart from other species, at least in our ability to do it so uniquely and prolifically. It comes with loads of benefits, like improved decision-making, increased motivation and better overall mental wellbeing. Researchers stop short of offering an exact method for how to use prospection to increase your odds of success, but they do agree on the fact that doing so is absolutely vital to real success.

Related : How to Make Big Decisions When Facing an Unpredictable Future

And why wouldn't it be a major part of a successful business? Anticipation, strategic planning and administering operations — each of these require an eye for what's happening now and what's coming next. There are infinite possibilities for leveraging this truth into a strategy for long-term growth. In the simplest sense, thinking about the future is beneficial because it gives us something much better than worrying about things that have already happened — things we can't change. Instead, it directs our focus toward opportunities to achieve our goals dreams.

Chris Estey

Founder & CEO of Private Label Skincare Florida

A serial entrepreneur and business expert with over 40 years of experience across industries, Chris Estey is Founder and CEO of Private Label Skincare Florida, one of the largest and fastest-growing manufacturers of organic skin and hair care products in the U.S.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business Solutions

Block Ads and Improve Productivity Online with Control D for the Best-on-Web Pricing of $32

Take control of your browser with this five-year subscription.

Side Hustle

This 26-Year-Old's Side Hustle That 'Anybody Can Do' Grew to Earn $170,000 a Month. Here's What Happened When I Tested It.

Stephen Alvarez was working at a dental supply company and following his passion for cars on the side — then an Instagram ad changed everything.

Business News

Elon Musk Reignites Feud With Mark Zuckerberg Over July 4th Vacation Video: 'I Prefer to Work'

Zuckerberg went wake-surfing over the holiday weekend, while Musk claims he was working.

Growing a Business

Saying 'Yes' to Everything Leads to Failure — Here's How to Avoid the Trap of Overcommitment

Discussing the dangers of overcommitment and practical strategies to master the art of saying "no."

Growing a Business

What Happens After You Win 'Top Chef'? One Former Champion Shares His Story: 'It Was Just Insane.'

Chef Joe Flamm dishes about becoming a celebrity chef, finding his love for Balkan cuisine, and why he keeps it real on social media.