Music Mondays – Stronger


Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)

The last few weeks, I have had a series of new client meetings, and I noticed a consistent theme in every meeting, a sense of fear. My first meeting with a new client involves me asking a series of questions to get a good understanding of where the client is financially and where they would like to go. After I collect all of this information, I sit down for a few hours and create an individualized financial plan based on the information gathered from the first client meeting. Once I develop the plan, I meet again with the client and present the plan, and this is where I see the fear.

I would say that 98% of the time when my clients see the goals that I have laid out for them, they experience fear and possibly dread over what their future will look like. Why fear? It’s a fear of the unknown, because many of them have never pushed themselves to achieve the types of goals that I set for them. It’s not that they don’t want to push themselves, it’s that they just don’t know what goals they should set. As I have said in the past, I set achievable goals for my clients; however, they are definitely reach goals, and for clients who have never focused on their money habits, hearing these goals is sometimes a scary thing. I think many times my clients think these goals will kill them, not make them stronger.

If you have never tried jumping a hurdle, it can seem overwhelming; however, just as you train and practice to jump the hurdle, you need to train and practice good money habits. I give my clients exercises and tools to help them reach these goals so that they have some direction. Yes, they may fall flat on their face trying to jump the hurdle, but with practice, it won’t seem as scary.


50/50 Success Rate by First Quarter Meeting

The fact is, though, by our first quarter meetings, only about half of my clients reach the goals I have set and half of my clients fail. The successes excite me, but the failures don’t bother me. I’m not bothered because now I have a solid three months of client activity that I can review to find and pinpoint my client’s problem areas.

You see, when we first meet, my clients tell me what they think are their problem areas, but many times they don’t really have a good grasp of what’s happening. After three months, I can easily pick out patterns and behaviors that we can work on. So the clients who failed to reach first quarter goals get a whole new set of tools and exercises to work through to help get them back on track. By the second quarter meetings, 70% of my clients are meeting their goals, and the 30% who haven’t get another round of help and tools. When we get to the third quarter, pretty much 90% of my clients are inline with what they need to be doing.

Financial Fitness Doesn’t Come Easy to Everyone

Financial fitness is not a strength of everyone, just like physical fitness does not come naturally to everyone; however, just as you can improve yourself physically, you can improve yourself financially it just may take a longer time, but as the lovely Kelly Clarkson says, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” These goals and the behaviors that lead to achieving them will cause fear and they will cause pain, but in the end, my clients are not only in a better place financially, they are in a better place emotionally as well.

For many, they didn’t believe that they could even accomplish what I set out for them at the beginning of our time together, and to see the growth in their assets as they make changes gives them a lot of confidence that they can achieve other things in life.

If you set goals for yourself, make sure that you push yourself and that your goals create fear and pain in your life, if not, then you are setting your own personal bar too low. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you stay committed, and remember that it’s okay to fail repeatedly along the way because you learn something new in every failure.

For my clients who fail each quarter, I learn new things about them and develop new strategies to help them. I don’t give up on them, I just try something new and eventually we find the right solution to help them achieve their goals. Either way, my clients are learning throughout their journey toward financial fitness and each step is making them stronger financially and stronger mentally.

Do you think difficult goals make you stronger in the end or just cause pain? What’s the biggest goal you set for yourself? Did you achieve it? If you failed, did you give up or keep working at it?
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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. Sticking to goals help you get stronger, by letting you know its okay to change routines and behaviors. Having a little failure thrown in to may not be a bad thing too, sometimes they are the best learning experiences.

  2. I really like your point about how some people have the natural strength of physical fitness while others may have the natural strength of finances. For me I’m naturally good and physics fitness and not naturally good at finances! I think that’s why I focus on finances so much – it’s not easy for me.

  3. I’d much rather have goals that cause pain and stoke a little fear – because it means when and if I reach them it’s that much sweeter. Otherwise, like you said, you’re just putting the bar too low and makes you question what has been accomplished. The other thing I like about setting those fear inducing goals is they provide a great way to learn more about yourself and provide moments to look back to see how you could’ve improved.

  4. I think challenging goals are important, but you have to be careful not to border on unrealistic. There is always so much to be learned from a challenging or difficult goal.
    Oh, and that gif brought me back to the time I clipped my foot on a hurdle and went down! Good times!

  5. I think we should all push ourselves a little, but without having unrealistic goals. I have a goal of reaching financial independence by the time I’m 45. On paper it looks very hard and almost unattainable, but I’m going to try as hard as I can to do it.

  6. I can testify to the fact that those reach goals (and failures) do indeed make one stronger – if they refuse to give up. As they say, what makes a failure isn’t failing, it’s refusing to get up again. I love reading about how you help your clients, Shannon. You’re doing great things for them!

  7. “…make sure that you push yourself and that your goals create fear and pain in your life…” Now that’s not a sales pitch you see every day! But it’s SO true, and that kind of honesty should make your clients and readers trust your advice. The “10 easy ways to become wealthy!” types of advice are not telling the whole story. There is fear. There is pain. And both are signs that you’re on the right track.

  8. Change is always a little bit scary and some people are very, very resistant to change. There have definitely been times when I need to give myself a little pep talk to buoy up my courage but I am generally receptive to change and a huge fan of goal-setting, especially stretch goals. I want to be realistic but I also want to push myself too. It’s when we go beyond our comfort zone when great things happen. It’s good your clients have you there to help see past their fears!

  9. I have failed at some things and given up (like trying to win over this one girl my freshman year of college). But for the most part I have persevered which has brought a lot of satisfaction. It’s can be so hard when you’re in the middle of it though.

  10. I think it’s really important to push yourself and have goals, but I like breaking them into stages instead of looking at the whole big picture all the time. Right now, our goal is to have all our properties paid off in about 8 years, and if I look at the totals for everything, it makes me want to cry, but if I focus on one at at time, it’s not that bad. I think that’s why so many people who struggle financially get frustrated and give up. It just seems too daunting to think about paying off a bunch of debt while saving a million dollars or more for retirement. Aim high, but take baby steps, if that makes sense.

  11. It’s amazing to me how much finances and health mirror each other. I just wish I could have such an easy time as I do with fitness as I do with finances. It’s much easier for me to open my laptop and update my net worth on a weekend compared to getting dressed and going to the gym!

  12. I felt that fear of the unknown when someone gave me a financial plan. It was really dreadful to do because I had no confidence and faith in myself, imagine of the situation I was in back then, and the plan seemed to be achievable. But, I just stepped further and tried it out, until I noticed that everything seemed to be getting easier that was when I was gaining confidence to reach my goals.

  13. Yeah I’m an ace in the physical stronger department but the financial? Oh boy! I suppose we all have an Achilles heel. I think deciding is something is fear versus “just not right” is something I went through yesterday, and yes, I owe you an email. 🙂

  14. After my trip, I am more motivated to get out of debt and have a pretty audacious goal I’ll be announcing soon. I’m scared and can fail epically. But I want to try. And I’m ready. Sometimes you just have to go with it — even if you fail, you turn out stronger!

  15. Every month and year at the company I work with we have “reach” goals that are sometimes hard to fathom. The sheer size of the number is pretty shocking when you first hear it. But somehow we typically make up some or all of the reach goal. I try to set reach goals for myself and I truly believe reach goals are necessary in life to push you out of your comfort zone and see what is truly possible.

  16. Having nothing else to compare to, Yes, I do think us overcoming such a financial burden (massive debt load) does make us stronger and more financially savvy than if we had no dealt with this situation…again I have no idea what kind of people we would be if we graduated debt free and went right into decent paying jobs but I can say we’re stronger now than we were before dealing with our debts.

  17. I love the concept of setting goals that cause fear and pain! It sounds harsh, but I find a lot of value in pushing myself and being aggressive with goals. As long as I know I won’t give up on a goal too soon, the process of working through a really difficult aspiration teaches me way more than taking the easy route. I personally am really motivated by our super high savings rate goal–it’s something for us to work towards every month! I like a good challenge 🙂

  18. It´s definitely wise to have “stretch goals” but it´s important to make sure they´re realistic and attainable, too. Nothing is more depressing than failing everytime, and knowing “success” is not in your reach. That´s why I like to have short term and longer term goals. The short term goals help me reasses and adjust more quickly if I fail, or feel a good little pat on the back if I succeed.

  19. A little bit of both here. My husband has ADD, so it’s a constant stream of compromises on both of our parts. We could get ahead faster if we always chose my route, but that’s not a very good marriage.

    That said, I was the one who showed him he could get out of his debt (defaulted student loans) and actually get ahead. I set us up on a path there, and he was enthusiastic once he could see the goal was achievable.

  20. Its best to set big goals and do your best to achieve them I feel. I cant fathom being scared, but maybe because my personality is already financially minded. IF you ask me to climb mount Everest now that is scary for me. Good luck as it seems that your financial practice is growing.

  21. This is a great topic! I think that having big and difficult goals (and actually being able to achieve them) can absolutely make you stronger as you go through the process of reaching them. The scariest things we do in life are often the most rewarding and fulfilling, at least I’ve found that to be true in my own life!

  22. It’s always so much easier to stay where you are and not push yourself to go farther. Having a great mentor (like you) makes the whole journey much easier. I think a 90% success rate is awesome. I wonder what kind of transformation those people go through in the last few months that helps them stick to their new goals.

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