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  • Writer's pictureBridget Sullivan Mermel CFP(R) CPA

Eliminate Money Hurdles to Improve Your Finances: Darcy Luoma Talks Financial Planning

Updated: Dec 18, 2021

Money hurdles can make people feel helpless to improve their relationship with their finances. Darcy Luoma joins Bridget Sullivan Mermel and John Scherer to talk about how to apply her coaching concepts to your money and help you gracefully clear the obstacles!

Darcy outlines six hurdles that face us:

Internal Hurdles:

1. I've got too much to do

2. I don't like how I act in some situations

3. I get stuck in relationships or in other situations

External Hurdles:

4. I'd be fine if you change

5. I have relationships that don't quite work--I have to do too much or you're overbearing

6. I get blindsided by the unexpected.

Once you've identified the hurdle, answer two more questions: 1. What do you control? 2. What are your choices?

Using Darcy's basic structure of analyzing problems and thinking them through, we talk about common financial planning questions. The housing market is hot. What should I do? The stock market went up or down. What should I do?

She talks about how training yourself to pause - think - act is actually something to do mulitple times a day, like sit ups, so that when you need your core skills, you've got them. Who knew sit ups worked like that!

Check out Darcy's information at:

Buy the book:

Thanks for watching and please subscribe!


Bridget: Are you having troubles and getting in your own way? We found six practices that will help you get out of your own way and overcome the hurdles that might be holding you back. I'm Bridget Sullivan Mermel, and I've got a fee-only financial planning practice in Chicago, Illinois.

John: And I'm John Scherer. I run a fee-only financial planning practice in Middleton, Wisconsin. And on today's episode of “Friends Talk Financial Planning,” we are again joined by Darcy Luoma to continue to discuss her new book, “Thoughtfully Fit,” which was published this summer. The concepts in it do have some applications for financial planning and life in general. And Darcy, we're really excited to have you back. Thanks for joining us.

Darcy: So glad to be here. Thank you, Bridget and John.

John: So last time we talked, we got an overview of the “Thoughtfully Fit” model and that core: those circles of pause, think and act. And I know that they're awesome. I love that. And then there's some external things that are built around that core, dealing with internal and external things that happen to you. I know you talk about it a little bit differently than we do.

For Bridget and I, when we're talking with clients, we talk about controlling the internal things, focusing on the internal things, like how much you save or where you spend your money, and try not to focus on the external things, like are interest rates going to go up, or what happened in the market last quarter, or those sorts of things.

So there's some congruence and sort of the concepts, but I'm really interested in hearing a little bit more today about your internal and external and its practices, if I understand it right, like things that you can do in practice to become more “Thoughtfully Fit.” Can you share with us what those practices are?

Darcy: Absolutely. So with “Thoughtfully Fit” there's three practices, and they identify the hurdles where we get in our own way. One is lack of stillness. There's so much to do I can’t even think. Another one is I don't always handle myself the way I'd like. That aligns with the practice of strength and being able to consciously choose how you show up. And then the last one, the hurdle, and these are based on my research of thousands of hours of coaching clients on where they struggle, clients feel stuck. They get stuck in a job they don't love, stuck in a relationship, and that aligns with the practice of endurance, which is overcoming obstacles.

And then there's three external. So, one hurdle is “I'd be fine if only you were different,” right? So, clients come in and they want somebody else to change and then they could be happy. That aligns with the practice of flexibility, which is stretching to accept other people just as they are, instead of wasting all this energy trying to change them or fix them or get them to be the way you think they should be. And then, I have relationships that don't work. I have clients that come in. That's a hurdle. They're out of balance. They're over-functioning. They’re feeling like they are not aligned in this win win. So that's all about being able to achieve alignment, and that's the practice of balance. And then the last hurdle that clients come into coaching with is “I don't handle myself well when I'm blindsided.” And that's the practice of agility, being able to respond thoughtfully in the moment when you're blindsided.

The place where there's great overlap with what you're talking about is, regardless of what your hurdle is, the key, and at the core, is you focus on what you control and what are your choices, instead of trying to control others, and in this case, you can't control the external market, right? You can't control the external market. You can’t control what's happening in the housing demand and what the value. So, you have to then, in this case, pause—this is the core—and think: What do I control? What are my values? What's most important? How do I want to respond to those external challenges in the marketplace, for instance? And then act thoughtfully

John: It's interesting…every time that we talk, and hearing you on our last conversation, new things pop into my head. And one of the things that came up as I was listening to you describe things, is, well, two things. One was that, boy, I can't imagine you take a look at those six different categories, well, there's just about all the problems I've ever had. It addresses such a wide variety of things and having a name for, like having a place to focus, it's got to be really helpful.

And the other thing that I heard, and I'm not sure if it's just my reaction to it, but there's some sort of famous saying, “Life is not about what happens to you. It's about your attitude,” you know, controlling your attitude. And I've always thought, “Well, I don't know. Yeah kinda, I get that.” But that pause and then think…not reacting, right? If you don't pause, you have that reaction to things and Lord knows I've done that more times than I care. Oh, you get this reaction, you know. Is that really one of the things that you're talking about, is that attitude you have maybe in some ways and not reacting?

Darcy: Yeah. It is a mindset. And it's funny that John, I had a client share with me. She said, “Ah I realized I do it backwards. I act. And then I pause and think, ‘O, why did I do that? Why did I say that?’” Because when you are not living your life in an intentional, thoughtful way, or handling your finances and your future in a thoughtful and intentional way, then you have to go back and clean up the mess that is created from overacting or being impulsive or not being thoughtful in the first place.

John: Yeah.

Bridget: Yeah. You know it's something that we work with clients on all the time. Like, okay, the stock market did whatever. Okay. First of all, is that actually different? The stock market goes up and down, you know? Okay, so the stock market went down, does that mean I need to act? Like, no, it doesn't mean you have to act. It could. But it depends on your situation, but a lot of times no, it doesn't mean you need to act. And so it's very interesting if I see something that I want to buy, does that mean I have to act?

Darcy: And that's where…

Bridget: Or maybe it does?

Darcy: Sorry, sorry to interrupt.

Bridget: Go ahead.

Darcy: I yeah, I was just going to say that's where in the book, one of the core principles is, in that moment, you have to pause, like, “Oh, the stock market I need to sell, sell!” Right?

John: Right.

Darcy: No, pause. The "think" is where you're asking thoughtful questions. What's my long-term investment strategy? How do I want to handle this unexpected downturn, or whatever? You name it, there's all sorts of financial challenges that come. And then with the new awareness you have from asking those thoughtful questions, then you can act, instead of acting impulsively or overreacting in the first place.

John: The way you describe it, Darcy, the other thing that I'm thinking here is that, man, that sounds simple, right? And like many things, and things we talk about with clients…it doesn't have to be overly complicated. In fact, it shouldn't be. It's not complicated, but, golly, it sure isn't easy, right?

And so often it's, hey, we want to act…and really what we want. The pause—it’s not rocket science, right? Pause, think, act. But doing the things that's got to be where the real trick is. And that's where I know in each chapter of the book, you've got some of those…practice that you talk about. You have to practice, even though it's simple, right?

Darcy: You do. You need to train and practice. And what I would say, John and Bridget, is everybody who's watching has a different default and a different strength. So, some people are really good at the pause, but our strengths taken to the extreme become a weakness. So that pause becomes a five-hour Netflix binge, and they just ignore the problem.

Some people are really good at the thing, but that becomes like analysis paralysis. And they come up with plans A, B and C, but also D, E and F and G, right? Some people are good at acting, but the extreme: they are so good, they act impulsively. And so the key in this case is you have to do all three in order. Wash, rinse, repeat.

John: Yeah. That's great. Well, Darcy, maybe it's two questions in one, but if there's one thing that you want people to take away from the book when they read it, or one thing that can apply to financial planning as people buy the book and read it? What's the takeaway or the thing to have on their minds?

Darcy: I would say to engage your core. So, if somebody watches this and then they go to the store to go shopping and somebody cuts them off. Instead of flipping them off or reacting, pause. Like, find as many places in your life that you can pause and then think, “Okay, do I really want to get angry with this person? Do I really want to put energy into this?” And maybe it's like, “Oh, you know, go ahead.” And then you act by just choosing to let it go and choosing, right, to not be annoyed at that person. Just like if you want to create a strong core physically, you aren't going to do 20 sit ups once a month and be done. Same way.

John: Wait a minute. That's what I'm doing wrong.

Darcy: You need to engage your core multiple times. So, pause, think and act every time there's a challenge, there's an obstacle, there's something where there's adversity in your life.

Bridget: Okay, great. Thank you. Alright. So, again, I'm Bridget Sullivan Mermel, and this is John Scherer, we're “Friends Talk Financial Planning.” We're both members of ACP, which is the Alliance of Comprehensive Planners. It's a non-for-profit group that helps financial planners, and it's all over the country, so you can check Darcy, you want to talk a little bit more about your book and website?

Darcy: Sure. So, is where you can go and learn more about the book. You can order it online anywhere. It's on Audible. If your fans want to go there and take a quiz, there's a two or three minute quiz where you can find out what's your biggest hurdle, which of those six obstacles is your biggest? And what are some strategies to overcome it? And then my website is That just shares more about our coaching, consulting, and speaking services for anybody who's interested in getting Thoughtfully Fit or bringing Thoughtfully Fit to their conference or organization.

John: That's great. Thanks so much, Darcy, for being on the show. Everybody go visit and take that quiz. And Bridget until next time.

Bridget: Thanks, John and Darcy! Bye bye.

Darcy: Thank you!

At Sullivan Mermel, Inc., we are fee-only financial planners located in Chicago, Illinois serving clients in Chicago and throughout the nation. We meet both in-person in our Chicago office and virtually through video conferencing and secure file transfer.

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