An Ornate Cathedral of Failure… Me.

All I have done is everything wrong. I have mistakes and screw-ups in spades. In this blog I’ve shared some of that, to You, in the last couple years. Right now, I can honestly say, in this very instant, I struggle to type. In between ridiculous distractions online and listening to some amazing music by Rodriguez (MUST WATCH!), I dabble and drift. 

Yeah, I’m screwing this whole thing up at this very minute. It’s true. I’m actually pretty good at that. Taking my own time and energy to aimlessly meander. Spinning my own wheels, losing track, skittering, tumbling about, without direction. Oh, and I don’t just enjoy these little fairytale adventures in laziness either. It’s a self inflicted torture, to willingly engage in mental hypnosis while worlds crash down around me. I feel guilty, I’m mad at me, I suck.

In this exact moment though, with the 70’s sounds in my headphones, a quiet messy house, heater under-desk, and a stinky black dog who groans in the kitchen 3 steps away, I find it spellbinding, how much I have managed to not do, in the last few years.

It’s actually quite mesmerizing. An ornate and expansive Cathedral of Failure.

When I step back and remember, it was this time of year, 4 years ago, when something was unsettled inside me, and I wanted OUT of my life as it was, or at least certain parts of it. I never stopped long enough to plan out, really where I wanted to exactly go. I may have thought I had a good plan, or a path in my mind, but that is really bullsh!t. If I said it, I was only kidding myself. I didn’t. In fact, I was a whining crying baby boy, throwing a life-tantrum. I saw nothing through the eyes of gratitude. In haste, I figured the best way to fix things was to make a radical change of career path, and take a long road trip. Everything would then start to fall into place. My wings would grow after I leapt from the safety of the ledge… So Fly Will I! Yeah! Jump!

uh… yeah.. uh… okay… anytime now wings!… crap, this is gonna hurt…

Splat! Crash! Smash!


See, I never once considered that the thing I really wanted to see changed in my life was ME.

I wanted my job to change. I wanted my bank account to change. I wanted my feeling of freedom or direction or pursuance of something more special, more dramatic and exciting than the ordinary life, I had lost hope in, To Change. Yeah, so I’m waxing profound again, about the past, again. Sue Me. Quit Reading. Go Away.

Ha! It is something pretty freaking sad to look back on now. I made over 5 times as much money every year then. I had way more toys and security and friends and social events and girlfriends too. Back then I had my hand on the knob to control so many of the worldly things in my life. I even had a paid-for house, no other bills. I could have probably asked for  an extended vacation, or some time to get my head straight after the loss of my cousin, to suicide, from the employer who I grew with, for over 10 years. All the world of possibilities were mine. Yet, all I could see was a tunnel vision, a tiny spot way out ahead, nowhere close to where I was then. I wanted out!

Just screw it all! Was my basic plan of action. So many ‘important’ things in my life back then, got the ‘just screw it’ treatment. And toss ’em away, I did. What a move. Wow. Who does that? It’s actually crazy. Insane.

Or at least it can make you go insane. Riding through a meat grinder and realizing you pushed yourself in. Is there something that today, in this look-back, that I can relay to you, that may be of use to you? How about this: I have small but real and true hope in a $49.07 purchase at a grocery store.

Yeah, 49 dollars and 7 cents. That’s it. That’s your tool. That’s your advice. Words of Wisdom that can change your life into anything you want. Now go live by them.

Interested? Why would you be. It’s just a silly dollar amount of an ordinary purchase. And, remember, I’m a man who’s built an artistically decorated Cathedral of Failure, over a long period of years. I have nothing you would want to exchange with me. A dinky house in a small Kansas town. Hardly any money. No fun party times. No flashy car. No stuff atoll.

And a really really smelly dog. The last bath she had was 6 months ago, for our wedding.

So again, I invite you to leave, check out, go to a more successful man’s blog. Someone who’s made it. Or just spend some time watching this, instead of reading about my almost 50 dollar grocery store purchase and some words of wisdom… Go! Git! Begone!

Still here? Really? Crap. Okay.

I’m going to tell you something amazing. This is no exaggeration or lie. When Lindsay and I shop at the grocery store, we always end up at the checkout line with very close to $50 dollars in the basket. Every Week. Always within a couple bucks of $50. How? Easy, a calculator, right? Just add up what goes in there? Nope. Haven’t used a calculator at the store in years. I don’t even really pay that close attention to the prices as we go, and mentally add up the costs. It’s true. Do you believe me? I have tried to be as honest in the first part of this blog, so that you may believe me now.

I get a ‘feeling’ for how much money we’ve spent as we go through the store. I can just sorta steer us toward the checkout when it feels like we’ve hit our budget… Budget? Yeah, we do have a goal that our grocery expenditure be $50 each week. BUT, we do not explicitly calculate this. And we don’t even really care, if we exactly stick to it. Sometimes later in the week, we buy more. So it isn’t even really a hard and fast rule… BUT, on Sundays, when we shop, no matter what goes in, it adds up to around $50 every time.

Last Sunday, driving back home from Arkansas, heading north through Garnett, we stopped at Country Mart. We grabbed groceries with a snow storm coming in the next day or so. We also tried a few new items, since we’d never shopped there before. We bought items in different brand names and different sizes than we normally do. Everything about our shopping trip was different. Except the cost. $49.07. We looked at each other and I giggled aloud. Ha!

We have truly mastered a Habit. This thing that we used to have to work at, and make mistakes to learn, and keep trying to hit, week after week, now is super duper easy. In fact it’s so easy, I don’t even ‘think’ about it in my head. That’s right. I don’t use my head for math. I just ‘feel’ when it’s right. I have nothing other than that to share with you.

A habit can be made out of ANYTHING. When formed, life is easy. Doesn’t take effort. A habit can be something positive and helpful; a discipline. Or it can be a rut, an addiction, a broken record of failure, that you’d like to STOP!

How does it work? What keeps the momentum going? I don’t know. I’m not even sure that it’s me doing it. It may be God, or the Universe, or Dumb Luck.

Who Cares! It can be started, stopped or changed at any time, but us. Best done in tiny bites at a time.

We all master habits. And you probably do the exact same thing when you buy groceries too, right? Do you force and stress over each little price as you buy? Or do you just throw things in, and when it feels full, you go check out? AND, if you do, are you spending what you intended to? What you explicitly set out to spend? It’s just a question of intention. Are we deciding first a goal, then hitting it with committed action? Do that often enough, and it becomes a harmonious rhythm that you would have to try to stop, if you wanted to.

What could we do, with that knowledge? What could we do if we practiced mastering habits? We could literally change our life into ANYTHING we wanted it to be! We could make habits of time, money, exercise, learning, serving, relaxing, skydiving or even watching news programs designed to create stress! (kidding! If you do that, STOP IT!)

Taking a giant leap of faith, and tossing away years of hard work, and going all but completely broke, taught me this at least: I can commit to and create any new habit. I don’t have to uproot my whole life to do it.

Tomorrow, I step across a threshold of 17 months of Sobriety, 6 Months of an amazing Marriage and around 3 solid years of an ever-deepening relationship with God. Yeah baby. Those are some seriously exciting habits to tend to. These things are no joke. This is solid ROCK to build a life on. Keeping my momentum going forward in these areas has become the juice of life. It’s better than beer, finer than wine, quicker than liquor. One great woman in wedlock, beats flying solo, with a girlfriend around, because that’s how we were designed to operate. And brushing clean the connection to God in my life, has electrified parts of me, that I never dreamed were worthy, or capable, or even present in junky little me. (including writing these words)

I’ve suffered in life. I’ve suffered the pains of the emptyness of the world. Entitled, and ungrateful, and a snot-face. Still do sometimes. BUT, the better suffering is this: Knowing that this amazing powerful force beyond comprehension of God, and Christ Jesus, are blasting a blinding white light of love and hope and forgiveness and purpose, and yet I am still reluctantly holding onto my smallness, my miniature toy cathedral of mistakes. I could drop it anytime. The one triune God has opened doors. I suffer as I sit and wait for more of a sign. I intellectually ‘get’ that I gotta get out of my own way, and I suffer, as I see that I’m not. When I habitually ‘get it’ energetically, It will be true in my everyday world.

Dang, Hurts So Good.

Suzanne Stauffer, an amazing woman, spent time with me this week. She did a lot of things that created a resulting feeling of freshness deep within me. She unfolded and she enlightened and she sparked something personally, spiritually, maybe deeper than I realize right now, within. She does that for people. Over the phone. Anywhere in the world. How freakin’ cool is that! I’m inspired by her, and others like her, that have worked with me in these profound ways. (See list below)

I wanna be more like that. I see something awesome in changing someone’s life for the better, even in super tiny increments. We could plant seeds. They could grow big and grand, or small and beautiful. In your world, what would you want?

There’s a habit I now put into place for myself. To help people. I can do that too. After awhile it will be second nature, and I’ll just ‘feel’ it… Course, that would be crazy…

Just like me 🙂

Be Love Today.


Aaron Nichols

Here is a list of the professional coaches and mentors that I’ve personally spoken with, in person, or on the phone. These teachers have guided my progress, kicked my butt, and loved me forward in life over the last year. Thank You All!

Bobbie Robertson –
Charles Redd 
Chris Dorris –
Clarence Thomson 
David Wetmore –
Deb Schanilec –
Dusan Djukich –
Erin Haskell –
Jason Westlake –
Joelene Robinson
Kevin Wile
Lisa Peake –
Megan Sillito –
Melissa Ford –
Michael Wright –
Molly Fiore –
Steve Chandler –
Steve Tefsky –
Suzanne Stauffer

And Tim Soule – without whom, I would be sorely smaller as a man. Thank You, Deeply.

Want to talk more about ‘An Ornate Cathedral of Failure… ME!’

You’re invited to join the next weirdforgood hangout, and engage in a workshop – you’ll need a free Google+ account, 45minutes to engage with us, at 5:30 CST, and device with a camera & headset/microphone. If you can Skype, you can do this, (it’s actually really easy  ) Then email me at – before Tuesday – I’ll send you the hangout invite when we start.

Check out last week’s hangout here, to get a feel for it. Join us if you dare!


Fear-Be-Gone! Get Financially Ripped one Baby Step at a Time!

Clank… clank… clank… clank…  thud, whirr, clank, whirrr, whirrr, thud, CLANK. A hushed but audible radio plays in the background. Several sweaty bodies are scattered around the place, in various contortions of abstract motion.

I find myself very uncomfortably standing at the front desk of the Ottawa Nautilus Fitness Center circa 2001…  Hang on for this story, you’re gonna laugh!
Looking across the vast gym, I am completely out of my comfort zone and feeling absolutely insecure.
To go back to that place and time I should provide more about my lifestyle at age 22. I’ll make this part fast… #1 Goal? Have FUN!  Then work hard and Play Harder! Every night is a new adventure, Never worry about tomorrow! Needless to say, the fitness level of my body and my wallet was completely Out of Shape!
I don’t remember exactly what brought me to the Gym. It may have been the latest great idea of the group of guys I ran around with. We were going to be in great shape and have fun doing it!
Honestly though, standing at the front of this gym in downtown Ottawa, all that energy and excitement had drained out and fear was taking over…
My mind observed a whole new and alien world to me. I didn’t know what was what. I felt no bearing on where to start. I felt silly for being worried so much about something that seemed so simple to all the other folks in the gym.
I feared looking stupid, doing the wrong things & having my weakness of body and strength on display for all the gym to see.
I had years of guilt washing over me. I never was interested in physical fitness until now. What had I been thinking! Was it too late? Did I deserve a fit body when I had neglected mine so long? I saw myself on square #1.
In my head, everyone here had worked out for 4 hours a day, every-day for their whole lives. They were all triathletes and here I am, the weird new kid who probably will drop the bench-press bar on my face or something! I had beaten myself mentally, before I ever tried.
Anyway, I did sign up to be a member.
I began on the treadmill. I jogged a little and let my new surroundings sink in. I tentatively played with the machines trying not to break them or me. I met “the guys” for some light lifting and low reps. It didn’t kill me 🙂
Over the next few weeks, I began to feel more comfortable with my own capabilites. I did, little by little, learn to enjoy this new facet to my lifestyle. Step by step on the treadmill, my confidence grew and I came closer to being comfortable in my body and in this once terrifying place…
That experience began an understanding for me that I always want physical fitness to be part of my life. A gym-rat I am not. I did later become a big fan of bicyling and had about 3 years of very rewarding miles out on the trail. Although the focus comes and goes, I’ve never forgotten how good it feels to be in shape and confident in my physical abilities…
Sooo, this world of financial fitness? How does it make you feel?

Are these blog topics, and word Budget or Dave Ramsey, bringing anxiety, just to think about? Is the thought of using cash as your spending tool just as scary as a squat-bar loaded with giant weights? Do you feel guilt for years of couch-potato-like financial habits? Does it feel like it may be too late to start getting in shape?

I know those feelings.
I’ve lived those feelings too.
I was also the poster-child for out-of-financial-shape-ness!
I had all those same feelings when I began my journey to financial freedom. I thought it was too late. I thought I had too much debt. I thought I had no control on the cost of living my life.
I had that same gym-like anxiety sitting in the waiting room at a hospital reading Dave’s book the Total Money Makeover. I was afraid people in public would see that I was out of shape and weak with my money…
Truth is, just by being IN the gym. Just by having that book IN my hand, I had Victory.
I had taken the first baby step. I was TRYING!
Every little step of progress helped me to feel more confident than the last. The fears of “what if I can’t”, “what if it’s too hard” & “what if I fail” start to melt when you get moving in the right direction. The act of trying is what shrinks the fear.
If I can become financially fit, believe me, So Can You!
I see things from the other side now. I have mastered the equipment and techniques of building a solid financial body. I still enjoy the adrenaline of working those money muscles. And Yes, I fall off track every once in a while, just as all humans do 🙂
If you want a personal trainer who understands. One who has transitioned from taking bill-collector’s calls to being completely debt-free, then my coaching services are for you. We’ll use the Baby Step approach to gaining confidence and climbing toward debt-freedom.
My money-gym membership info is available at check out “What is Coaching” for details.
You have the ability in you. I can show you how to put it into action. And, YES you will be more attractive, inside and out, when you know that you have a buff & chiseled
financial physique!




Aaron Nichols
True North Financial Fitness Coaching

Got a leaky Wallet? Bulging budget or none at all? Dilapidated Debt that you’re sick of living with?  You are losing hard earned dollars every month! Let me show you how to spackle the cracks and firm up your financial foundation. DIY or using my professional services, either way, the best time to fix your finances is Now!

The Greats know how to Give!

Happy Holidays!
Giving is in the air! We all love the bright eyes and smiles of children and loved ones as they open up gifts that we put our love and thought and money into. I am taking this opportunity to expand on this idea and maybe shed some light on the history and importance of giving as part of a healthy financial plan.
Here are some quotes from the wise:
“I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”
Luke 18:12

“The wise man does not lay up his own treasures. The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own.”Lao Tzu (from the Tao Te Ching)

“The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.”
Albert Einstein

“To do more for the world than the world does for you – that is success.”
Henry Ford
“The more I help others to succeed, the more I succeed.”
Ray Kroc
“No one has ever become poor by giving.
Anne Frank

“For it is in giving that we receive.

Francis of Assisi

I could post hundreds of quotes that all restate the same concept. Giving is and always has been a foundation of happiness, love and yes, success!

In my own Total Money Makeover, on my personal journey to complete debt-freedom, I had a revelation. After following some of the concepts in Dave Ramsey’s baby steps, I was finding a gradual move toward financial happiness. This speed however did not match up with the results I was looking for. According to the book and lots of Dave’s callers on the radio show, I should have been feeling much more momentum in my race to debt-freedom…

When I re-looked at the steps and found that I had left out the Giving part of my budget, I took a deep look inside and decided to give it a try… When learning to live on a budget and really adjusting my buying behavior, I had found much guilt in the things and ways I was spending my money. When the instructions in the Total Money Makeover showed to budget 10% of my pay for giving, it was So Liberating! I could blow that giving money in any way I wanted as long as I was giving to a charitable cause! At that time I chose to anonymously give to local causes and individuals. Now, I tithe to my church and look forward to a financial future of being able to change someone’s life with the stroke of a pen. I love that idea!

The supernatural things that started to happen once I began giving are hard to put into words. Money and opportunities began to arrive around every corner. My goals were put into warp speed, once I had a plan and place for the extra money that would find it’s way to me. I had my house paid off 4 months earlier than expected because of dollars that simply showed up in my life.

Giving as a planned part of your monthly spending will revolutionize your life too. All the great texts and successfull individuals understand this concept. The simplest way to incorporate this into your thinking is to understand that when you earn a dollar, you get 90¢ to spend and save for yourself. I promise you, by starting this year-round, monthly practice, your potential will explode exponentially! I see great things in your giving future. This is one step toward a life that you may be unable to imagine right now.

Stay tuned to my web-site and blog. The next few weeks I’ll be bringing you videos and downloadable documents outlining ways start out 2011 as your year to Win with your Money!!

Thanks and Merry Christmas!




Aaron Nichols

True North Financial Fitness Coaching
Free 30 Min Financial Anaylsis – No Obligation – Completely Confidential

Windshield or Rearview??

Happy Thursday as the sun shines and cool weather has set in.

Today’s question seems simple enough… “When driving to work this morning did you happen to look out of windshield of your car or did you only use the rearview mirror?”

Silly question right? It would be terrible if everyone decided to use their rearview mirror to drive all over town. I think my friend Kevin would have a lot more work in his industry as an auto insurance adjuster!

Financially how are you driving? Do you know how much you’ve spent every month, feel comfortable about that and use the past month’s expenses to know exactly the amount it took to make it to the end? This would technically be the same as driving using your rearview mirror. Some people even write out their “budget” and have expenses marked down on a nice spreadsheet and track them very clearly. This is a step in the right direction, although we are still focusing on where we’ve been and not where we’re going.

Just like our cars, the best way to navigate financially is to look forward, see what’s ahead and plan to steer around the curves and stop when we come to an intersection. A Pre-Planned Zero Balance Budget is the best way to plan your month’s money. We start by looking forward into the upcoming month, writing down our income that we expect to bring in, and then working down the list of expenses until every dollar has been spent. Also this should be done at the beginning of each month because expenses change as the months change. We can plan our lives a month at a time and make adjustments along the way knowing that we are staying on the road we’ve planned out the entire time.
Some folks have irregular income amounts and may feel it’s impossible to plan things out this way. On the contrary, it is even more important to get a written plan ahead of time to know where to put money as it comes in. With the same form that you can download in the link below, write out all your expenses for the upcoming month. Then in the left column put a priority number on each expense. #1 would be food, then utilities, then house payment, then car gas, payment & insurance… Food, Shelter, Clothing & Transportation are the 4-walls it takes for all of us to live.  Make sure and spend out categories up to the amount you expect to bring in and beyond. Then as the money comes in, pay yourself into each category by the numbered order on the list. Do not spend money on a credit card bill or to eat out until the house payment is paid. This will make sure your basics are taken care of and you have a plan for each dollar as it arrives.

Click Here for Aaron’s Zero Balance Budget Tool -on the Resources page at where I’ve uploaded my Zero Balance Budget Tool and some other great documents to help you get your financial ferrari on the autobahn!

Now we have to be honest here… Not everyone is looking out the windshield or the rearview… some are wearing a blindfold and mashing the gas! The results of this plan of driving are obvious. The car gets beatup, rides really rough and sometimes causes fender-benders with others out there on the road. By downloading my budget form and filling it out, we take off the blindfold and know where we are at. Seeing on paper how much we have coming in and going out helps us to know if we should slow down some spending or plan to pull into a service station!

All of us are really driving ourselves somewhere financially every day. I hope we are headed where we want to go! I would love some feedback on the budget files I’ve posted for download. Remember that you can get yourself going in the right direction, but if you need navigational help, a tune-up or overhaul, I’ll be at your service.

Money flows from those who don’t manage it to those who do. ~Dave Ramsey


Aaron Nichols

True North Financial Fitness Coaching
Free 30 Min Financial Analysis – No Obligation – Completely Confidential