Music Mondays – One Step at a Time


One Step at a Time

I recently met with new clients and laid out for them their financial plan. There are a number of things they want to accomplish and one of them is buying a home. Before they met with me, they assumed they would buy their first home in a year; however, after I laid out the financial reality to them, they realized it might take longer than the year they were hoping.

The next day my client emailed me in a panic and wondered if home ownership was ever going to happen for them. Seeing the actual numbers of their dream looked like a massive mountain ahead of them; but I told her to calm down and take a deep breath. Yes, the total numbers are large and seem insurmountable; however, one step at a time they will get there.

Words of Wisdom

I love this song by Jordin Sparks, former American Idol contestant, because it’s a great reminder that our life journeys happen one step at a time.

We live and we learn to take

One step at a time

There’s no need to rush

It’s like learning to fly

Or falling in love

It’s gonna happen when it’s

Supposed to happen and we

Find the reasons why

One step at a time

I reminded my client that she needed a huge dose of patience and she needed to work toward this goal one day at a time. When she wrote me back she confessed that patience is something that she often feels short of, and she is not alone. I know very few people in my life (myself included) who have tremendous patience, especially as we are trying to achieve what seems like mountainous sized goals.

My One Step at a Time Journey

I left my former employer almost two years ago with the dream of revolutionizing financial planning, and with each passing month after leaving, I wondered if my dream would ever become a reality. Over the past two years, I have had days where I felt as though I could see the pinnacle of my mountain only to be followed up by days where it felt like an avalanche struck and there was no clear path to the top. On the days where the goal seemed clear, I felt like anything was possible, and on the other days, I wanted to pack up my bags and go home.

I give my clients the advice to take one step at a time towards their goals and I give myself the same advice. It’s simple, basic and true, but not always what we want to hear.

Big dreams excite and inspire us and we want to achieve them as soon as possible, but if we rush through the process, we miss out on the learning opportunities that present themselves with each day and each step of the process.

I look back on the past two years, and it feels as though I am looking down from a tall mountain, and I can’t believe how much I have accomplished. I know I have a long way to go, but I am thankful for what I have learned thus far and despite the fact that I want to reach the top sooner than later, I really have to admit that in my heart of hearts, I am enjoying each step in my journey.

So if you are in the middle of a long journey to achieve a big goal and you get frustrated by what’s ahead of you, remember how far you have come from where you started. Look back at each step and remember that you learned something along the way and you will continue to learn something. Take a deep breath, ask for patience, and maybe play some Jordin Sparks to remind you that “it’s gonna happen when it’s supposed to happen and we find the reason why, one step at a time.”

Are you in the middle of a journey to a big goal? How much further do you have to go? How do you stay patient along the way?

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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices. Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.


  1. I’m sure if you look back over the last 2 years your ups have outweighed your downs. Helping others has to be fulfilling. You can say I’m on a bit of a journey to a goal, looking to jump start a career or take it in another direction. Patients is important and not getting down on yourself when results are not what you expected.

    • That’s a great point Brian, the ups have definitely outweighed the downs and it’s definitely important to keep that in perspective. You are definitely on your own journey, but I know that you are taking things one step at a time and learning along the way.

  2. That looking back to what has been accomplished is what keeps me going at times – especially when I’m feeling like things aren’t going at the pace I’d like them to be. Patience is definitely not a trait of mine and have learned I need to sit back and appreciate what has been accomplished and what I’ve learned along the way. There are times where I’m simply thankful for those learning opportunities as I believe they help shape us as we continue to go after what we want.

  3. Isn’t it funny? I read somewhere that you should plan 5 years out but think back on your life 10 years ago. I mean, for us, I was just in college, not married, no kids, no savings whatsoever. Now, I’m so far ahead from there. Ideally 10 years from now, I’ll be much closer to retirement! And the other thing is I’d rather see how hard it is to get somewhere because at least I know the direction I need to head. It’s better than wandering around aimlessly.

    • I have never heard the 5 years ahead, 10 years back, but I LOVE it! We need to appreciate how far we have come to really help us prepare for where we are going. I need to start looking back 10 years because then I will feel REALLY good about myself. 🙂

  4. I needed this today because I’m feeling rather impatient lately and just kind of in a minor slump. I know it will pass, but it’s a good time to examine my behavior and see what is working and what isn’t…and let myself just ride out the storm. Well, it’s not even a storm…it’s more like meh. Just a tiny funk. 🙂 I think that kid living with me is driving me up the friggen wall and it’s going to be a LONG month.

  5. So encouraging Shannon. I’m leaving the military for good and about to make some serious bold decisions. After doing something for so long that has drained all my creativity it’s time for me to explore my true self and pursue my dreams. Seems crazy at this age, but it what it is….One Step At A Time.

    • I truly believe that we can make big changes at any age and the second we start fearing anything because of our age, we should just pack up our bags and quit on everything. I am excited for the next phase of your journey and can’t wait to see where your steps lead you.

  6. I absolutely love this song, and in fact choreographed a dance to it to teach some of my younger students in high school when I was working at a dance studio! It’s incredibly encouraging and upbeat. Sometimes goals can seem incredibly insurmountable. Once you keep pressing forward you may look back and not even realize you’ve already accomplished that goal! The journey/process is what’s fulfilling, that even when you get knocked down you have the courage to keep pushing on. Thank you for a great dose of motivation this Monday morning!

    • I love this song too and would have loved to see a dance routine to it! We all want to reach our destinations ASAP, but the journey is definitely part of the process and we need to enjoy it more rather than trying to rush through it.

  7. Great advice. It’s tough trying to be a homeowner in the NYC metro area…prices are just so high! But you’re right to take things a step at a time. One of the things I’ve been thinking about is retiring early. I’ve been obsessing about it and sometimes it prevents me from enjoying the journey and from seeing the progress that I’ve made. It’s a long journey and it begins with one step and consists of many steps. Sometimes we’re in such a rush to get to the goal that we get frustrated because it seems so far away.

    • Early retirement is an awesome goal, but as we both know, living in NY puts that goal a little further back for us than some of our peers in other regions. The good news for you, though, is that you have made it a goal and you are working your way there so it will take less steps for you than someone who isn’t even focused on it.

  8. So true that you need to both take things one step at a time and try to ENJOY each step along the way. If you’re just working towards a goal and completely unhappy in the process, you’ll miss out on life and ultimately it won’t be sustainable. If you can find joy in the journey then you’re on the right path.

  9. Great advice as patience is a big issue in our current society. The internet and cell phones have changed us in my opinion to want things now or extremely fast. Getting by 1 step at a time will help anyone look down from a big mountain goal with satisfaction and pride.

  10. I’m constantly having to remind myself that things will come slowly — but they will come. Ideally, we’d be putting far more money into retirement and the toward paying off the mortgage. Instead, home repair costs crop up, and we have to save for a $25k medical bill.

    So I’m determined to just focus on one goal each year. We should be able to finish saving for the medical bill by the beginning of 2016. So then I’ll focus on opening and maxing out a SEP IRA. The year after that, I’ll focus on padding our mortgage payments more significantly. And so on.

    I’ve realized it’s the only way I’ll stay sane.

  11. I need to heed this advice!!! I can get so impatient once I decide on a goal and start working towards it. Toughing it out for the long haul takes all the patience I can muster. We’re about 2 years away from our homestead goal and some days it seems like it’ll never happen and then other times, it feels almost toooo soon. Enjoying the present moment is absolutely something I need to work on. Although, counting down to the birth of Babywoods really does make me enjoy the present moment because I feel like I have so much to do and learn before she comes!

    • Ha! Yes, there is definitely plenty to do with the impending arrival of Babywoods so that will keep you patient about the homestead and then once Babywoods is here, you will be in for a whole other set of fun stuff that will both make your days seem incredibly long but your weeks, months and years fly by. At least you know, no matter what, you have a great partner in Mr. Frugalwoods to tackle everything with.

  12. Patience is something I struggle with myself. Something I think is even harder these days because we can instantly gratify so many things we want that having to wait and be patient becomes even harder to do! It’s true that it one step at a time, which seems so tiny in the moment, but eventually takes you to where you want to go. We’ve been in the process of selling our home, buying a new one, remodeling and we’re finally seeing the light at the end of tunnel (after almost 2 years!) and I can’t wait until it’s over. 🙂

    • I cannot even imagine what you have been going through with all of your home issues!! We built a home while I was pregnant with Will and it only took about 4 months but I thought it would kill me. At least you are nearing the end and starting to see the light! 🙂

  13. I am definitely in the middle of a long journey to a big goal. Thanks for the very timely reminder to be patient with myself 🙂 I have definitely come a long way from where I started. Sometimes we get so focused on what´s ahead, we forget to appreciate what we´ve put behind us.

  14. I have no patience whatsoever. It seemed like it took forever to pay off credit card debt and to sell my practice, but in hindsight, it doesn’t seem that bad. I try to remember that when I think about the years ahead before I can leave work completely. I don’t want to wish time away at all, but I do sometimes wish it would hurry up.

  15. I think for pretty much all millennials big financial goals seem unreachable. I mean, can you imagine having $1M net worth? Most 20somethings starting their career simply cannot. I think being patient (and honestly, grinding) helps people see how small actions can build up and gain momentum over time.

  16. I am bad about not patting myself on the back for what I have accomplished thus far. I want to get better at that because so much has really changed in the last five years! Love this song too!

  17. In finances, patience is truly a virtue. We need to wait sometimes so that we can get the results we’are expecting. Taking it one step at a time is the way to do it. Though it would take us years or longer time before we get it, we are sure that it’s worth it.

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