Write it Down & Make It Happen, or How to Make Millions in the Stock Market - Christine Kane

Nothing speaks louder than a personal story. So, here’s a success story about written goals and taking action.

My birthday was on Wednesday. Even though we’re all supposed to party like it’s 1999 on our birthdays, I typically spend mine reflecting, writing in my journal, being grateful, and reviewing the past year.

I did this last year, too. I wrote down some of my goals and dreams. One of those goals was about my finances.

First, a little history: Back in the 90’s when the stock market was going completely insane, (and we were partying cuz it was 1999) I invested a chunk of my CD sales money ($6000 to be exact) in some Really Stupid Stocks. (The other RSS.) This might surprise you, but I lost pretty much everything. (And RedHat seemed like such a bargain at $118 a share!) After that, I gave up on ever being a good investor. I would not be the one to write the next best-seller, Rich Songwriter, Poor Songwriter.

So on my birthday last year, I wrote down a financial goal: to invest my Roth IRA money in stocks, and to have accumulated a certain amount by my next birthday. I was ready to get over my mistakes. (And it only took me 9 years!)

After that, I didn’t think much about this goal. But then, in July last year, I was browsing through audible.com (my FAVORITE place to download audiobooks). Even though I wasn’t looking for financial books, I found a book by Phil Town called Rule #1: The Simple Strategy for Successful Investing. I listened to the sample. I liked his writing style. I got the book.

I loved it. It was the first time anyone had made sense of the stock market for an average person like me. I bought the hard copy because there was much work to be done with calculating, etc. Then, I got confused, and I set the book aside. Every now and then I’d attempt to figure the stuff out, but I mostly gave up.

Fast-forward many months. In February, I began a mini-mastermind group with humorist and artist Diane English. She and I created a partnership so that we could encourage each other in our careers. We had one rule: No Whining. (We were going to call ourselves the Coalition of Talented & Wealthy Artist Types – except for the unfortunate acronym that resulted.)

At one of our meetings, she told me she wanted to learn about investing. So I gave her a copy of my Phil Town audiobook. After that, I left for a two-week tour. By the time I returned, Diane had bought the hard copy of the book, done all the calculations and begun investing. (She’s very action oriented.) I told her about my written goal from my last birthday and how I had just over a month to complete it. She encouraged me to make my goal happen. (When Diane encourages, it sounds something like this: “Well, what the hell’s your problem? Get going!”) She and I sat at a cafe together, crunched numbers, looked at charts and re-read portions of the book. It was fun. I kid you not.

Bottom line: Yesterday, I reached my goal. The day after my birthday. And I never had to get driven. It fell into place. I picked a great company and invested. My dollar amount is still lower than my goal amount, but I don’t care. I learned a lot just from writing something down and then realizing it within a year.

Here’s what I learned about writing goals and taking action:

1 – When you write down your goals, you don’t have to know how they’ll happen.

I had no clue how I was going to learn about investing my Roth IRA money. I just knew it was time to get over my old wounds.

2 – Taking action can be fun. Jaw clenching and fist-making is SO 1990’s.

You know, I watch some of the success guru types, and they make it seem like only the driven will succeed. That’s just an outdated model. I absolutely enjoyed every part of this process. I stopped when it felt bad or when I got totally flummoxed. Yes, that delayed my progress. But I did continue showing up in my life and dreams. I did continue to read Phil Town’s blog. And I held that original goal in my mind.

3 – Allowing things to happen is a necessary part of taking action.

When I wrote down my goals, I didn’t look up and say “Alrighty then! How am I going to figure out this investing thing?!” I made space for allowing. When the book showed up, I wasn’t pushing or freaking out. It felt right. It felt fun.

4 – Partners get you out of your rut.

I’ve encouraged my readers to form partnerships and groups. I believe in this. Other people help you out of your own ruts. Diane has thanked me over and over again for introducing her to this book. (I discover things.) And she showed her gratitude by pushing me to get over my fears of numbers. (She carries things out.) We serve each other in complementary ways. That’s what partners do.

5 – Taking action isn’t linear.

I stopped. I started. I avoided. I plodded along. I got impatient. I got patient again. The goal remained and guided me. And with lots of help, I found my way. It’s like writing a song or painting a picture – nothing is ever linear.

6 – Even if you fall short of your written goal, you won’t be disappointed.

Lots of people don’t want to write down their goals because they’re scared that they won’t reach that goal. My experience is this: even if you don’t reach the actual goal, you usually get farther than you would have gotten if you didn’t write it down. The amount doesn’t matter so much. The action does.

7 – Goals don’t end. Write more goals and continue to learn and grow.

I still have lots to learn. I still have work to do. This is an on-going path. I’ve got new goals for this coming year.

8 – The best part about goals is what you learn on the way to them.

Have you noticed? This is the theme of this series on taking action. It’s about who you become on the way. This is why taking action makes you happier. It teaches you about you.

One of the things I’ve been learning over the past few years is about emotions: how they can hook us, how they’re not the truth, and how they make lousy drivers of our bus. Phil Town’s book was just one more teacher for me. It showed me why I screwed up so badly in the 90’s. And it is teaching me how to not do that again. That’s even more important than the million dollars I am poised to make!


  • Debra Moorhead

    Happy very belated birthday, Christine! I’ve been out of town and out of touch for a few weeks – this is my first day off this month. I came to your blog to find out how SOBCon07 went – found that article – thanks for posting it. I then decided to catch up and just kept reading and reading – you know how it goes.

    Anyway, it sounds like you had a great birthday and I’m very happy for you. You’re amazingly sweet and talented and grounded and you know – all that stuff you drama queens like to hear – kidding! 🙂

  • Nneka

    Happy Birthday Christine 🙂 I don’t comment a lot, but I admire from my feeds. BTW, Phil Town is awesome. His site has everything step by step. I particularly enjoy how he says, “Now go play.”

    In Spirit,

  • Christine Kane

    thanks kloudiia! i also find that i can re-write goals and dreams as some of them begin to come towards me and evolve. great stuff!

    ken – not a problem, friend! we all need those gentle reminders!

    aw kay – did you get a speeding ticket listening to me? that happened to my friend steve too. he still threatens to fine me! thanks for the note and birthday wishes!

    thanks alyson – that sounds like quite a group. what an inspiration to guide each other along that path that can be so confusing! (especially to artist types.)

    hey cynthia – and wow – i hope you take time every now and then to be really proud of yourself. it’s amazing what you can accomplish with a group and with baby steps and with intent. good for you!

  • Cynthia Morris

    Thanks for the great post and book referral. I will check it out ASAP. I am one of Alyson’s (see above) Rich Women pals. By writing my goals down, I have a) cleared $23,000 in debt b) gotten two retirement accounts c) gotten health insurance for the first time since I left college d) gotten a health savings account and…. there’s more but I have to go look up that book.
    Now I am working on a monster savings account and buying a home. I completely believe in the write it down theory. In fact, one of my favorite books is Write It Down, Make It Happen, by Henriette Klauser. Great, inspiring stories such as yours. It doesn’t have to be a struggle.
    Thanks again!


  • Alyson B. Stanfield

    Very nice post, Christine. I belong to a “Rich Women” group–not really investing, but staying in charge of our finances. We often read books as the focus of our meetings and I’ll surely recommend this one for the future. Right now, we’re reading “The Feng Shui of Abundance.”

    I hope your birthday was marvelous!

  • Kay

    Belated Happy Birthday wishes!!!
    Great birthday week weather up here this weekend, huh? Relative humidity only 15% and blue skies forever with green air from everything green!!! May is such a great month!

    Just wanted to ask, when you make your millions investing well, will you please offer to pay the speeding tickets for those of us playing your
    “Right Outta Nowhere” songs/CD while driving and not paying attention???
    Happy Day!!

  • Ken D

    Thanks for pointing that out Christine. It is such a fine difference between using empowering words and words that keep me stuck on the treadmill. Obviously I need to watch my words more carefully.

  • Kloudiia

    Happy Belated Birthday Christine! May you continue to be an inspiration, to yourself, your loved ones and all of us 🙂

    I started writing down my goals too. Thought it was something that can be done like a breeze, after all, didn’t we all repeat our goals mentally, visualise them mentally everyday and every free moment in our lives?

    But when it comes to really writing it down, there is a certain effect. Like you, I have absolutely no idea how I am going to achieve some of them (while the others have action plans laid out already), but I know that by writing them down, it’s much easier to start the law of attraction.

    Here’s to the fulfillment of more of your goals, and a richer fuller soul. Hugs!

  • Christine Kane

    Hi terry – thanks for that karaoke birthday message! And I highly recommend Rule #1 for you and your wife. It’s an eye-opener! (Although I must say – this post wasn’t about investing, so much as it was about taking action and writing down goals!)

    hi stacey – i’ve noticed that artists and creative types typically avoid the discussion of money like the plague. as if it makes them bad or something. and that’s probably because it’s such an emotional topic for them… which is why this book was so good for me and my own temperament and life situation. congrats on your success!

    hey ken – fits and starts are fine. that’s typically how transitions work for me too! be nice to yourself. (and watch when you’re using words like “struggle.” have you ever read Ask and It is Given? i highly recommend that when you’re going through those “figuring out what you want” phases.)

  • Ken D

    Happy belated birthday Christine. You seem to write exactly what I need to read, when I need to read it. I am struggling with many issues right now and one of them is actually figuring out what I want and writing out goals. My progress in many areas the past few weeks has been in fits and starts and I’ve been pretty hard on myself because of that. Thanks for another good post.

  • Stacey Curnow

    Happy Birthday, Christine! Great post! Love the topic! We really need to talk about this stuff more! There is so much help out there, even for math challenged folks who make a modest income (about 50K), like me. And you *don’t* have to pay a financial adviser!

    Fortunately, I have an older brother who loves to talk about this stuff and 10 years ago when I got my first “real” job he held my hand (and gave me the Motley Fool’s investment guide) while I picked the index funds for my IRA’s and 403B’s. Ten years later I have over 100K socked away and it has been automatic and effortless.

    That said, I have always been *afraid* of choosing individual stocks – feeling that was too risky. Then I had an unexpected windfall of 5K last year right around the time of my son’s first birthday. I decided to create “Finn’s Freedom Fund” and invest in the stock market, giving him whatever came of it, whenever he decided he needed some funds for freedom. I asked a friend’s banker spouse what he would do and he said he likes iShares. I can’t really even explain them, but went to Scottrade, opened an account and bought iShares from various countries. I have never added any more money to the account, and I don’t check it much, but when I looked at it on his 2nd birthday (5/5 – another Taurus, yay!) the amount is 7,086.36! I don’t know what sort of percentage yield that is, but it sure looks good to me.

  • Terry Starbucker

    [to the Beatles song]….”Wednesday was your birthday”..da da da da, da da da da…..”happy birthday to ya”…..da da da da, da da da da….”I hope you had a good time”… [and so on and so forth].

    Ah, those heady investing days of the 90’s – yes I also owned (and crashed with) that wonderful Red Hat. After my sterling performance on E-Trade with a not-too-small sum of money, my wife appropriately banned me from ever buying an individual stock again. She is a very smart woman 🙂

    So, I’ve since put my investing decsions in the hands of a professional I can very much trust – he’s my partner. Even he avoids individual stocks for me (he’s even affected by my dear Anita).

    You are so right on here – I literally remember writing on a yellow pad “I will not make any more stupid investing decisions – I worked hard for the money, so I’m not going to fritter it away”.

    Part of this is realizing you can’t do it all by yourself. You don’t have to. Congrats on your success, and may your learning continue on your path to those millions!

  • Christine Kane

    hi susanne – absolutely take the “freedom from self-improvement day” anytime you need it! my goal to get my roth ira in shape was one of those organic “this feels right” kind of goals for me at this time. and i LOVE that you are learning to trust yourself. you go girl!

  • Susanne

    Happy belated birthday. Using that day to be grateful and think about on’s life absolutely makes sense to me. Investing in the stock market not so much.

    I’m thinking a lot about this goal-thing lately. It seems to me every time I set myself a goal I find a way to go around it and do something completely different instead. So I’ve taken a time-out from goal setting for the moment. I just notice what is. I feel very good but I know that I won’t stay like that forever. (I’m one of the people who desperately need a “freedom from self-improvement day” from time to time.) But I’m just learning to trust myself. To get things done even without a plan or a goal.