The Smart Take:
People struggle to keep their New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, let’s talk about what real goal setting looks like. Kevin will share some tips he’s picked up from various coaches over the years that have proved fruitful in his own life and talk about how you can apply them going into the new year.
Prefer to read? See below for the transcript of the show.
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Introduction: 00:03 Welcome to Retire Smarter with Kevin Kroskey. Find answers to your toughest questions and get educated about the financial world. It’s time to Retire Smarter.
Walter Storeholt: 00:15 Well, we’re glad you’re with us for another Retire Smarter podcast. Walter Storeholt here alongside Kevin Kroskey. He’s the President and Wealth Advisor at True Wealth Design serving you throughout Northeast Ohio with offices in Akron,
Walter Storeholt: 00:26 Canfield and always online at TrueWealthDesign.com I’m disappointed in myself, Kevin. I didn’t start the podcast off with bells and whistles and fireworks and all sorts of stuff. Happy New Year to you, 2019 upon us. Can you believe it?
Kevin Kroskey: 00:41 No, I can’t. Does it seem like this time goes by faster for you, Walter?
Walter Storeholt: 00:46 Every single year it flies by quicker and quicker. It makes it really hard to remember events and the distance from which you’re separated by those events. I don’t know. I just remember when I was like, let’s just say teenager years. I can remember so many things about sports statistics, the dates when things happened. I could name the last six teams that won the Super Bowl and who their starting quarterbacks were and who was on the offensive line and just, you know, all these like really random things that just would stick in your memory and now things move so quickly, you have no sense of distance or time. It’s like, oh yes, so-and-so won the Superbowl last year. I was like, no, that was three years ago. How did I lose track of that?
Kevin Kroskey: 01:27 More memories and then they run together. I think that’s, I’ll give you my unscientific understanding of it, but just the way that our brains work, we kind of go back to these past patterns and so as you have more of those past patterns to reference, it gives the illusion of time going by faster. And certainly if some of these sports, you know, they all get a championship every year, so it’s, I don’t know what Superbowl we’re up to now. I think somewhere in the 50s but right now they all start running together for sure.
Walter Storeholt: 01:54 They do. Did you ever see that movie Inside Out? You know, the little, the kids’ movie.
Kevin Kroskey: 01:58 I’m surprised I was about to say, I haven’t seen any movie but a kid’s movie over the last several years, but I have not seen that one
Walter Storeholt: 02:04 Really. I’ll have to look that one up. I don’t know if your kids are old enough yet for it. How old is your oldest again?
Kevin Kroskey: 02:10 She’s five.
Walter Storeholt: 02:11 Five, okay. Man. Maybe not quite old enough yet for Inside Out. But it’s basically the entire movie is about what happens inside your head. And so all the different emotions are different characters. So there’s sadness. Who is my favorite anger, who’s played by Louis Black. So you can just kind of imagine, you know, anger, you know, joy and joy is sort of the lead character, that kind of thing. But it’s all about memories and they all get stored. And it’s very elaborate in the way that it talks about stored memories and all these kinds of things. And it’s all happening inside the head of a teenager. And so, you know, all the emotions that she’s experienced, they’re always going crazy all the time.
Walter Storeholt: 02:50 It’s a really cute movie. I’d suggested it was, it was well done. It was, I think it was a Pixar maybe or something like that. So you know, they always do a good job with those. Well, in any event, to not get too far sidetracked, just add that to your list of movies to see. But let’s jump into the conversation of the day, which is, Hey, it’s the New Year. There’s one thing a lot of people are doing at the beginning of January. If that’s when you’re listening to our podcast today, you’re probably like many, many other settings. Some sort of what Kevin? New Year’s resolutions.
Kevin Kroskey: 03:21 Yeah. And I guess I wouldn’t, that’s almost like a four-letter word in some way cause it’s just, you know, I think of going to the gym and seeing a lot of people in January and then when spring break rolls around it’s just not as crowded anymore. So it almost has this a somewhat of a negative connotation in some regards because most people don’t kind of follow-through. So I guess I just wanted to share something that’s worked for me. Not that I’m some sort of goal guru or New Year’s resolution guru, but something that I’ve learned and adopted something that somebody taught me and I thought I’d share that today on the podcast sound. Okay.
Walter Storeholt: 03:59 That sounds great to me. I know a lot of people are into goal setting. I know there are whole businesses out there of creating goals, sending calendars and methods and there are lots of different people who, you know, certainly believe in the importance of setting goals and that kind of thing. So that sounds like a less bad word than resolution here in the New Year, that’s for sure.
Kevin Kroskey: 04:19 All right. And so I think the key is, and I’m not going to get so into the process or you know, kind of measurement and, and things along those lines, but I guess it’s more perspective in my mind. So I’ve been going to a coaching program for myself. It’s somewhat business-related. It’s, you know, a lot of personal items as well. And this is something that I gleaned from there. I just got back from Chicago a couple of weeks ago and I was at this coaching event. And the way that we started off every meeting, which we do four times a year, is to do this exercise. And the exercise is called The Positive Focus. And so you can pick whatever time period you want, whether it’s, you know, Hey, the last quarter, which is generally what we do in the start of these meetings or the last year, which might be apropos given, you know, Hey, this is kicking off the New Year and maybe we’re going to take a look back on 2018.
Kevin Kroskey: 05:12 But the key is we’re going to look backward and measure backward rather than kind of look forward. And one of the keys in doing that is you’re going to look back on 2018 pick a few of the positive things that happen, whether it’s personally, professionally, whatever’s important to you. And then just list those out. And then once you do that, it puts you in this positive frame of mind compared to if you’re just looking forward and setting these New Year’s resolutions. And you have some sort of ideal self or ideal state that you want to achieve or some goal that man, this would just be absolutely perfect. You’re almost setting yourself up for failure in some way. So it’s kind of sleight of hand. But I tell you personally as somebody that’s very achievement-oriented, very driven in a lot of regards, I always feel like, you know, Hey, there are so many more things that I want to do and I want to do this after I do that and that after this.
Kevin Kroskey: 06:09 And, and if I just think that way, I always put myself in kind of what this coach calls “the gap”.” And it’s basically this place of, you know, the negativity of inadequacy, of just not feeling good. And if you’re measuring against the ideal, particularly if you are an achievement-oriented person, then you’re always going to be in this gap because as you reach that next plateau or that goal that you’d set for yourself, well guess what? You know you’re going to set another one after that and another one after that. And those goalposts are going to continually be moving as you continue to grow in life, in your relationships, in your health, in business, what have you. And so if you’re measuring against that ideal, you’re never going to get there because you’re always going to be growing. And if that’s how you’re measuring, then you’re always going to put yourself in “the gap”, feeling inadequate and not really feeling positive about the growth that you’ve actually achieved.
Kevin Kroskey: 07:03 So what I’d like you to do is just think about 2018. Just go back, get a piece of paper, write this down. Don’t even type it out. There’s also some science that just shows that when you physically write this out in your own writing, that it’s just more meaningful, more impactful. You kind of internalize it, it becomes part of who you are. And particularly when you’re thinking about, you know, future actions that you want to meet may take from this. The science shows, that brain science shows that it’s just more impactful and more likely that you’re going to stick to it. So think about a few of the things that happen in 2018 personal, professional could be health-related, whatever it may be. When I went through, and again, I do this exercise all the time. I have a few things that I always want to maintain and you know, I have a five-year-old and I have a four-month-old at this point and I had this kind of a broad goal of, you know, I want to be a good dad.
Kevin Kroskey: 07:59 Well to me, a prerequisite of that is I kind of have to be there and be there in person and spend some time with my kids to be a good dad. And at the same time that somewhat in conflict for my achievement mindset and my DNA and how I’m built and the things that I want to do in business and some of the personal goals that I have as well. But being a good dad is really important and I need to prioritize that. So, you know, simple thing of, you know, I’m home every night for dinner and there were only six days last year, at least when I was in town, there was a little bit of travel that I did, but there are only six days that I wasn’t at home in time for dinner. Now I start work very early in the morning. I get a lot done in the day, but historically I could just keep working through dinner time and come home later.
Kevin Kroskey: 08:44 And I made that a priority. And so when I did my positive focus, the fact that I was only away for dinner for six days while I was in town was incredibly rewarding to myself. It was also, I shared her with my wife because she knows how hard I work. And I said, you know, I was home every day for you guys with dinner. I said I was home every day for you guys with dinner. And although I miss spoke there, that wasn’t exactly inaccurate because I often cook a lot too. So, and still, share that with her.
Walter Storeholt: 09:14 So instead of just with bells on, you are there with dinner bells on sounds like.
Kevin Kroskey: 09:18 Yeah, my wife is great at many things, but you know, when you cook, a lot of times you have to measure things and she’s exceptional with words and writing and creativity.
Kevin Kroskey: 09:27 And I’d say a good thing he married a math guy because together we worked pretty well. But otherwise, and that’s good, so anything that has to be measured in the kitchen, she’s kind of climbing a mountain and leaping a tall hurdle. I do a lot of that anyway when I come home. So it’s something that I enjoy doing when I have time. But I shared these six days with her and she was kind of astounded by it. I mean, it’s something that, you know, you do something every day or every weekend just kind of goes on. You really don’t appreciate it. But that was something that I wrote down that I was really personally positive about and shared with her. So whatever it is for you, you know, as you’re listening to this, you know, jot those things down, whether it’s personal, something professional, whatever it is that you are positive about that you achieved in 2018 you know, reflect on it and not only write it down but then as you write it down and you list it out, why was it important to you?
Kevin Kroskey: 10:18 Why do you feel it was one of those things that you really wanted to do and why it was important that you actually did it and it could be something that you were very conscious about. Like my making sure that I’m home for dinner and spending time with my family. Or it could have been something that maybe is really positive but you weren’t really intentional about it. That’s okay too. You know it doesn’t matter, but I listed out at least four or five things that you feel very positive about that occurred in 2018 and then as you do that list why it was important. Now when we’re in Chicago and we’re going through this coaching exercise, we would then continue on and say, well, are there any next steps to occur from that? And that certainly is helpful. And you can start building kind of this action plan that, you know, this continuous improvement, if you will.
Kevin Kroskey: 11:04 But I’m going to take it a slightly very direction for our call today. And just say after you look back on 2018 and you’ve put yourself in this positive, you know, the frame of mind, now look forward. And then when you look forward, the same thing that this coach says is, you know, genuinely give yourself a little bit of space because he could be dealing with some things right now that maybe they’re kind of big, you know, maybe they’re going to take a little bit longer than a quarter or even a year to deal with. What he suggests is to give yourself about three years. And what he says is, ask yourself this question, and I’m going to say it right now. Imagine we were sitting here three years from today, looking back on those three years, what has to happen in your life for you to be happy with your progress?
Kevin Kroskey: 11:49 So let me say that one more time just to make sure everybody got it. Imagine you’re sitting here three years from today, having a conversation, whether with yourself, with me, what have you, what has to happen over those three years for you to be happy with your progress. And as you do that, and if you really think about that, it gives you that space to get beyond some things that you may be dealing with right now and maybe kind of take a little bit more time than a week or a month or a year to go ahead and clean up. But that’s going to kind of set the stage for where you want to take your life. And you may get all the way there. Maybe you don’t, you know, maybe it’s going to be something that you’re going to be able to get, you know, part of the way there.
Kevin Kroskey: 12:26 But again, whenever you do this again down the road, you’re not going to measure against the ideal. You’re going to just kind of do that little sleight of hand if you will measure backward and look at the progress you’ve made from the time you set the goal. You’re not going to look at, well I didn’t reach that goal. Or if you did the reach the goal, you set another goal, you’re not going to say, well I didn’t reach that one cause you’re going to put yourself in that gap. You’re going to put yourself in that, the negativity, the feeling of inadequacy, and you’re going to really preclude yourself from moving your life more positively forward in the direction that you want to go. One of the things that we had a conversation recently where we started working with a new client and very successful people, husband, and wife, both work in both doing well.
Kevin Kroskey: 13:10 Kids that they love. Kids are in school, two of them in college, one of them in high school and everybody’s doing well, but the husband got promoted and he’s just dealing with some stress at this new level and he’s pretty high up in one of the local companies here and just, he’s done really well, but now he’s dealing with a new level of stress. And when they came into the office the first time to meet with us, you could just sense it. It’s just if you’re self-aware and you can just listen to other people, you could almost feel it in the room. And I just asked him, I said, yeah, I just asked that very question to them and I said, you know, three years from today, in his case, I changed it. I said five years just because of their ages and a little bit that I kind of thought I knew about them and just ask them five years and what has to happen.
Kevin Kroskey: 13:57 And it was quite a first, but as he got going, you know, they’re both making a lot of money, but they didn’t have a lot of clarity on their finances. They weren’t sure that they were kind of doing the best that they could with what they had. And so, you know, that’s a common one when somebody comes to our office and wants to see us, you know, they just have some questions. They want some clarity, they want some, some answers and some confidence around what they’re doing, make sure they make the most out of what they have. But that’s never really kind of the root issue. There’s always something else that’s kind of driving them to come in and, and he said, well, you know, I’d like to transition into retirement. Like, okay, you know, you’ll tell me more about that. And then we got to talking about it and he just eventually shared, guys, have a stereotypically more difficult time sharing than women do.
Kevin Kroskey: 14:40 But finally got to the point of like, he’s really dealing with the stress and there’s an issue with somebody that is now his superior that he’s not sure how much longer he can do it. And so when I asked that question, we kind of started at some of these, you know, nice-sounding goals, Hey, I want clarity on my finances. I want to make sure I make the most out of what I have. I want to be able to transition into retirement. But as we really kind of, you know, kept asking more questions and getting down deeper to the root of the issue. It was really about that. He just wasn’t sure he’s going to be able to go ahead and figuratively punch the clock for five years. And so we were able to back out from that, but then and do some planning in relation to that.
Kevin Kroskey: 15:17 But the important thing for me as their advisor, I understand really what’s kind of driving them, you know, if this situation is as it is today, he does not want to be there for another five years. So it allowed us to go ahead and back up and just go ahead and figure out alternative ways that they could go ahead and do some planning. I mean maybe you can find a lower pay job, maybe they could cut back somewhere else. I mean there’s a second home goal that they had and you know, is it really that important to go ahead and put yourself through this stress for five years? So this simple question just resulted in so much more coming out of it and us really understanding them and then being able to get on their team and go ahead and find other ways that they could go ahead and get where they want to go or at least make these tradeoffs of life and make them very clear and figure out, you know, what makes the most sense for them.
Walter Storeholt: 16:03 So interesting to hear kind of through that story. And then also just some of the tips that you’re kind of giving here. A few of my takeaways are just listening to how sometimes goals conflict, right? That you have this goal of being a better dad, being home on time. But it conflicted with the professional goals in a way because working that extra you probably identify with, I know I do. Putting in that extra time in the evenings has helped you in the past and so now you’re taking away a piece of your previous success and sacrificing and for something else. So you are able to adjust by coming in earlier. But I’m sure that there are lots of other examples where people have one goal, but they know it’s going to conflict with another and it really makes us evaluate our priorities. And then you spend a lot of time looking back, it sounds like to develop your future plans and goals. And my guess is that’s a bit counterintuitive to what most people would think they would just think goals are future, not past, but you spend a lot of time looking back at the past to help you kind of discover where you want to go.
Kevin Kroskey: 17:02 I can’t tell you the benefits that I’ve gotten from just measuring backward rather than always measuring forward. It was just so freeing and it helped really feel like I was living in the present rather than always being future-oriented. And I don’t want to say that I felt inadequate but there was always more to do and so you almost can’t help it because there’s always going to be more to do. There’s always going to be some evolution, the goalposts are always going to be moving. And every time I go to Chicago I come back and my wife just remarks that I just almost seem a little bit different because the 24 hours or so when I’m there, I’m really completely in the present and it’s just a really great feeling. So having that positive focus, we actually instituted that in our, in our workplace every Monday and we have a team meeting and that’s how we kick off the team meeting.
Kevin Kroskey: 17:53 And we just real quickly kind of go around and you know, what was one business and one personal, you know, positive from the prior week. And I asked the team after we started doing it and I said, Hey, this may seem a little bit weird at first I got this idea from these people in Chicago, let’s just try it out. So I kind of just, you know, introduced it that way. And then then I asked, I said, well you, maybe we take this out and I got a resounding, no, don’t take it out. I just, it’s one, it sets the mood, it helps put things in perspective. I mean we have a busy, you know, growing office here and it just puts everything in the right mood and it also helps us get to know each other better as well. And so it’s something that I do personally every quarter.
Kevin Kroskey: 18:33 Every year it’s a little bit more in-depth. It’s something that we do weekly here at the office with the team. It’s something that my wife and I do too. It’s a little bit, I guess less formal. But if we’re out to dinner with the two of us, you know, I often ask that question and we always have a meaningful conversation. What comes out of that. So I think it is incredibly important. I think looking back and measuring backward rather than forwards is incredibly important. And then as it relates to financial life planning, I mean these are the things that are really important to people. And so if we can understand those things that as a client’s advisor, then we can go ahead and build the plan so they can realize that things that are important to them.
Walter Storeholt: 19:08 So if somebody is kind of looking for an actionable step to kind of start their 2019 off the right way, we’re not going to use that bad word of resolution here, but to kind of start things off the right way, what is the best place to start? Is it talking with a spouse? Is it looking, you know, introspectively first at yourself and doing that look back and then moving forward and then talking with, you know, somebody like you who can look at it from that financial perspective. I know today’s podcast is a bit broader than just the financial goals and financial world, but certainly, we can bring it back to that as well.
Kevin Kroskey: 19:41 Yeah, I would say start with that list. Look back at yourself in 2018, right down, you know, the four or five things that were your positive focus. Again, whether it’s personal, professional, whatever is important to you in your world, write them down and then list why are they important. And if there are some additional steps, then go ahead and, and list those out as well as you begin formulating your 2019, 2020 game plan. But then give yourself a little bit more space and just kind of back up and say, you know, if I was sitting here three years from today, looking in the mirror, what has to happen in my world so I’m happy with the progress that I’ve made over that time? And then list some additional things that come out. Then I would suggest, you know, kind of asking, you could even, you know, blame me.
Kevin Kroskey: 20:24 Just say, Hey, I was listening to Kevin’s podcast and he said this thing, but he told me to do this. And so, you know, if one spouse is listening to this and the other one isn’t, you know, just completely blame it on me and ask that question to them and see what comes out of it for them. What was their positive focus looking back over 2018? Get them in that mindset, positive mindset of measuring backward. And then as you start looking forward, give some space, look out the next, you know, three years or so and figure out where you guys want to take your lives. You know, if there’s two of you, husband and wife, then there may be some personal goals or maybe some narrative goals. I’m sure some of the stuff is going to overlap while others won’t. And it’s beneficial for everybody though.
Kevin Kroskey: 21:01 So look back first, measure backward, getting that positive frame of mind and then look forward and give yourself some space, you know, a couple of years to figure out where you want to go. And then if he can just do this on a repetitive basis, then you’re going to continually find that you’re moving your life in the direction that you want. And if he can share those goals and those outcomes with your advisor, then your advisor is going to be able to go ahead and make sure that everything that you’re doing, one, they’re going to be able to help keep you accountable, but two anything that is financially related to those goals that you have and that life that you want to have and that person that you want to continue to become, they’re going to make sure that all that is in alignment financially with the person that you are and the person that you want to become.
Walter Storeholt: 21:41 I think the space thing is so important as well. Maybe one of the reasons why resolutions often fail for folks is because at least for me, I don’t know if it’s like this for other people. Yeah, okay. You probably get some time off around the holidays, but as soon as you come back in January, and sometimes it’s a good thing. You’re refreshed with ideas and a new direction. Kind of like we were talking about on the show today, but even if you’re not, it’s just, Hey, you’ve missed a week. Maybe two weeks’ worth of work and people are getting back into it. It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks to start the New Year. So it’s really hard to make some of these, you know, new things stick and that’s why I think maybe so many resolutions fail at that time of year as well. So the idea of giving yourself some space I think is really important. Don’t let the fact that you might not be able to tackle some of the big things that pop into your brain two weeks from now, keep you from doing it six weeks from now if that makes sense.
Kevin Kroskey: 22:32 Yeah, I’d be willing to bet if you go through this and do a consistently and you actually write it down in your own handwriting and then when you look back, you may not even be consciously looking at these goals or you know, kind of looking at the work that you did and going through this exercise. But it’s going to be in your subconscious and it’s going to show up. And then when you do get some space and you look back, you might be surprised at how much you have actually accomplished? I know I was personally, you know, this wasn’t something that I’ve done forever. I just started doing this in the last, you know, couple years. But I’ve always been a goal-oriented person. I’ve just provided a little more structure to it. But that frame of mind of measuring backward and not forward against the idea that you’re never going to reach has been so incredibly freeing and just keeps me in a positive frame of mind is I go ahead and encounter new challenges on a daily, weekly, yearly basis.
Walter Storeholt: 23:22 This fits right in line with one of my life mottoes and that’s to always make each year better than the last. And so looking back at 2018 I think it was pretty good and even better than 2017 than the year before that. And so we’ll set some goals for 2019 and beyond to make sure that that trend continues as well. Kevin, thanks for the insight and for sharing some personal stories with us and also the stories of somebody, the clients that you’ve met over the years who have done some of this goal setting and had these kinds of conversations with you. Very insightful, a good way to start off the New Year. I’m kind of jazzed up a little bit. I’m writing down my goals here in the background, so that’ll be a lot of fun to start implementing. We’ll look forward to talking to you again on the next podcast.
Walter Storeholt: 24:02 Hope everybody had a great New Year and are ready to tackle 2019 like me and Kevin, if you’ve got any questions for Kevin from that financial perspective, want to talk to him a little bit about what it looks like to set financial goals? You know the way to get in touch. It’s (855)TWD-PLAN that’s (855) 893-7526 or just go to the website, TrueWealthDesign.com the place to go there, you can click on “are we right for you” and schedule a 15-minute call with an experienced advisor on the True Wealth team for Kevin. I’m Walter. We’ll talk to you next time on Retire Smarter.
Disclaimer: 24:41 Information provided is for informational purposes only and does not constitute investment, tax or legal advice. Information is obtained from sources that are deemed to be reliable, but their accurateness and completeness cannot be guaranteed. All performance references historical and not an indication of future results. Benchmark indices are hypothetical and do not include any investment fees.