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People tend to deny the importance of setting goals the closer they get to retirement.

They argue it’s something for the younger generations, that they’re too busy.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. But it’s understandable if you consider that ambitious goals rarely come to fruition.

But there is a reason why some people seem to excel while others get stuck. They’ve mastered the skill of setting and achieving goals.

In this episode, you will uncover a simple action plan to start setting—and achieving— the right goals, so you can make sure you live a life by design and not by default.

Listen now.

Show highlights include:

  • Why setting the most ambitious goals is in your best interest (even if you don’t achieve them) (2:41)
  • The “Have-Do-Be” method to gain instant clarity on the goals you want to pursue more than anything else (5:06)
  • 6 of the most important areas in your life to set goals in (and how to map out your path to success) (6:42)
  • What the most successful people understand about goals and desires (and how they lay out every step of their action plan) (9:01)
  • The “75% Rule” to stack achievements which reinforce each other (12:35)
  • The “Shower Power” method to ensure your goals are top of mind (so you never look back with regret about what could have been) (13:32)


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Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money? Welcome to “Retire in Texas”, where you will discover how to enjoy your faith, your family, and your freedom in the State of Texas—and, now, here's your host, financial advisor, author, and all-around good Texan, Darryl Lyons.

Darryl: Hey, this is Darryl Lyons, CEO and co-founder of PAX Financial Group, and you're listening to Retire in Texas. Thanks for tuning in today. I always have to tell you my disclosure. This information is general in nature only. It's not intended to provide specific investment, tax, or legal advice. Visit PAXFinancialGroup.com for more information.

Also, I always want to remind you that you can connect with a financial advisor. They do have hearts of a teacher. You just have to text 74868 and put in the word “Texas”. It's pretty easy to do and a way to connect with one of our advisors at PAX. [01:03.8]

No guests today. My staff, my team has asked me to do some one-on-one podcast, just you and me, and I did some to start out the podcast, to kind of kick it off, and there has been some appetite for me to come back to that, and so, periodically, now I'm going to be doing some one-on-one. A lot of the ways I get content is actually pretty fluid, meaning that I feel as though I'm always developing content for my team or our clients, and when we talk about content, it really would be defined about thinking about things slightly differently, giving the context of the environment, and relative to what I’ve experienced, having kneecap-to-kneecap conversations with people dealing with money and life challenges.

I’ve got one of my good friends that calls me a thinker, so spending a lot of time thinking about things and developing content. Again, those that know me, I write quite a bit and write for Forbes and other platforms, and so it's not impossible for me to create content and I really want to be able to deliver that through the podcast on an ongoing basis is what I'm trying to say. [02:19.5]

Going forward, I'm hoping to take all of that thinking time and all of that time I spend writing, and express that through this podcast platform for all of our listeners to be able to digest it. I'm looking forward to that and sharing that with you mostly next year, so that'll be fun and I think it'll be great to be able to digest it through this platform, and, hopefully, it'll bring a lot of value to you.

Today, what am I going to talk about? Today, specifically, I want to talk about goal-setting, and before you check out and say, “This is not quite for me,” hear me out. I really don't care what age you are. I really, really believe that you can establish goals, and I have been a goal-setter for a long time and I'm not saying I'm good at it. I'm saying it's just been a discipline in my life. [03:08.1]

For really literally over 25 years, it's been a discipline. It's given me a life that has been built by design, not by default. And I'm not of the opinion that somebody is good or bad at setting goals. I'm of the opinion that there's people that either do it or they don't do it. It's not a skill that you are born with. It's something you just have to do. Otherwise, the whirlwind of life is going to push you around and you're going to look back and say, “How in the heck did I get here? How was my financial situation? How did it develop in such a way? Where did all my money go?” [03:56.5]

You're going to ask yourself, “Where did all my money go? Five years ago, I made all this money over the last five years. Where did it go? Why am I overweight? What, gosh, five years, last two or three years, what? My kids, I don't have a relationship with my kids or my grandkids. I've always wanted to learn the guitar, Spanish.”

As far as I'm concerned, we all have one or two … I guess the way I would say this is we suffer from two pains, one of two pains, either the pain of discipline or the pain of regret, and so I'm going to put together a conversation for us today and I'm going to talk about ways that you can look back in 2024, whenever you listen to this podcast, a year later, and say, “I have no regrets. I did the best I could. I did the very best I could.”
Y'all know that I read scripture and you know that a man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his path. I'm very much aligned with that. I set my goals and then the Lord works it out. But I don't want you to have a regret a year from now, so as far as I'm concerned, it's time. It's time for you to do things differently, because the way you've been doing it before, how's that working for you? Let's do things differently, and here's how I want you to start it out. [05:09.5]

You can come back to this podcast if you want to. You might be driving right now, so if you want to do it with a pen and paper, but I'd like for you to write down. This is the first brainstorming exercise and don't rush to this, just spend some time, keep a little piece of paper, napkin, notepad. Keep it next to you, because over the next week or so, you're going to be writing down everything you want to have, do, and be. Everything you want to have, everything you want to do, and who you want to be. Let's give you some examples here, just put some meat on the bones.

I want to have an emergency fund. Let's say it three times, your monthly expenses. I want to have a new kitchen. I want a kitchen remodel.

Let's move on to do what I want to do. I want to go to Israel. That's what I want. I want to run a half marathon. That's what I want to do. Heck, I just want to walk a half marathon. That's what I want to do. [06:08.8]
Who do I want to be? I want to be a role model to my kids. I want to be a role model to my grandkids. I don't want to be addicted to anything.

What do you want to have? What do you want to do? And who do you want to be 12 months from now? Twelve months goes by like that. What do you want to have? What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? Zig Ziglar said it once. He said, “Before you can have, you’ve got to be, and before you be, you’ve got to do.” I'll let that settle with you for a little while.

Now that you have your haves and dos, and bes, and you're brainstorming—you're thinking about this. You're asking questions from your spouse, your partner, your significant other, your friends, your family. You're asking about this idea of having, doing, and being—now that you've done that, now here's the next exercise. I want you to think about different areas of your life and I want you to categorize your haves, dos, and bes into the following areas. I’ve done this several different ways. You can do it however you want to do it. [07:10.2]

But let's think about yourself from a health perspective. Next year, what do you want to have, do, or be? Let's just put one in this category, maybe your best one in the health category, and we're actually going to call this, for a second, temporarily, we're going to call this a goal. I am going to change the name, but let's call this a goal. What's your goal for your health over the next 12 months? Let's say I went away, I'm making this up, 200 pounds. That's your goal in the health category.

Let's put another category in there. Let's call this the financial category. What's your goal? “I want to be debt-free, pay off the credit cards, pay off our house.” Okay, that's your goal over the next 12 months.
Let's consider spiritual goals. I think to really be a balanced person, you need to have spiritual goals. What's your goal there? I really want to read the Bible.

What about rest? Recreation? I'd put goals there. [08:03.7]

What about community? That whole “loving your neighbor” thing is kind of important. I often put intellectual goals. You could put something like, “I'm going to read,” or “I want to read a book or I want to know more about former presidents.” Making stuff up just to kind of give you some guidance here, but different goals, like different areas of your life. Trying to think, there's a handful of others that I keep vacillating between, but family would be an important one. Marriage would be another important one. I would say, your biblical community, people around you that pour into you, that would be another one.

Those are just some ideas on how to categorize. I've gone as high as having 12 different categories and as low as having nine, so having different categories of your goals. By the way, if you want all these categories, I did put a sample in the book, Small Business Big Pressure, talking about these categories. You can jump into that if you haven't grabbed that book yet. But it's not difficult. You have different categories, and just keep it real simple. [09:01.8]

Now what I want you to do is I want you to scratch out the word “goal” and write “desire”, because these things that you wanted to do, the things that you put down, they're not really goals. They're desires. They're not goals. They're desires. You put them down as goals, but they're not goals. They're desires, because these are things that are outside of your control. The things that you just wrote down, these are things outside of your control.

Now let's actually put goals down. These goals will correspond to that desire. As I just said, let's say I wanted to weigh 200 pounds. That's my desire. That's not my goal. The goal would be here, this is key—this is what successful people do. I'm telling you this is what they do—the goal would be to clearly articulate the key activity that, if done consistently, would increase the probability that that desire would occur. [09:56.0]

The key activity that, if done consistently, would increase the probability that that desire would occur. As an example, in this 200-pound, I want to weigh 200 pounds. Then what's the key activity that would increase the probability that that desire would occur? What about intermittent fasting every day? What about working out four days a week? You don't have to put a lot of them in there. Maybe just one because we're course-correcting habits, but put one key activity that you can control that's specific, measurable, achievable, very realistic—make sure all it has those attributes., usually a number associated with—basically, what's that goal that can increase the chances that your desire would occur? Very key element to this.

So, now let's go. Let’s go to “I want to be a role model to my grandkids.” I'm going to make that one up. That's the desire. Now what's the goal? What's the key activity that would increase the probability that you would be the role model? Because you can't control being a role model, but you can increase the probability to be a role model. [10:58.1]

I'm going to make this up. What about, let's say they are teenage grandkids, sending them a text, an encouraging text every Monday? “Hey, this is your Monday text from Grandpa. Just want to say I love you and I believe in you.” If you do something like that, you're increasing the probability that you will be a role model in 12 months. Is it a guarantee? No, but you're moving the needle in the direction where you'll have a life 12 months from now that was built by design, not by default. Default would be like your grandkids, they know you, they just like you. You just don't know.

Let's go to a different one. Let's go biblical community. You get to the age, we're all kind of doing our own thing. Covid has happened. We're all kind of … we have friends, but we don't know them very well. You've gotten the point, you go, “Life is about relationships. My desire is going to be to have a community of people that I can count on, that I can call friends.” Okay? That's your desire.

What's the goal? Okay, what's the goal? Okay, the goal is for me to call one person each month to have coffee with that person and to start building my community, and, let's say, as a part of that conversation, I'm going to be courageously vulnerable. [12:09.4]

So, my desire is to create a community of friends. Let's say it’s a biblical community, whatever you want to call it, a community of people, because you desire relationships, and a year from now, you want to have relationships because you say that's an important part of life. Now your goal to increase the probability that that happens is you're going to set up a cup of coffee each and every month and you're going to be courageously vulnerable with somebody that you want to build a community with.

For every desire, you can have five, you can have 15, I don't care. By the way, there's been some good research on this stuff. The more you do it, you actually increase the ability to be better at this. If you're starting out with your goals and desires to have three or four going into next year, you are going to find you're going to build on that, so you'll eventually have nine or 10. But do what you think. [12:58.8]

Here's the key element to this: Do what you think has a 75% probability of success. That's kind of how I quantify this thing. Whatever desires you put down and every corresponding goal that you put down on a scratch piece of paper, you can do Excel spreadsheets, however you want to do this thing, what you want to do is you want to make sure that you have about a 75% chance of success of accomplishing this. A 50% chance? That's a stretch goal. A 100% chance? You're not pushing yourself. You're just kind of leaning into your existing habits. You're going to be the same person 12 months from now. So, about a 75% chance of success.

Okay, now the last part of it, okay? We're coming home here, goals and desires. You've done your have, do, and bes. You've kind of scratched things down. You've asked people, you've started to talk to people. Now you're putting these desires. Maybe on the left side, you've got a bunch of desires, and then you have arrows pointing to your goals, and you’re like, Okay, I feel pretty good, I'm going to be a different person 12 months from now. I think you're onto something. I think you're moving the needle.

You're not going to be perfect with this, but you’ve got to keep this passion alive. You can't just let this little sheet of paper that you've created and put some thought into, you can't just let it sit there and collect dust, so here's what you’ve got to do. This is what I do, and so I call it shower power. It's just up to you, but I like it. [14:11.5]

I dig it because it helps to keep it top of mind. I get this thing laminated. So, I put it on a piece of paper. I go to the Office Depots. It’s a couple bucks, they'll laminate it for you. They may even go, “Oh, you're doing a shower power. I know who you are,” if you go to the one at Stone Oak down 1604 in San Antonio, because that's where I do my little shower power.

They laminate my goals and desires, and then I take some tape and I actually put it up in my shower for my wife to see. When she's washing her hair, she sees my goals and desires. I see them. If my kids use my shower, they might see them as well, and it just reinforces it every single day. It's not out of sight, out of mind, because, otherwise, we just get busy and we just forget about this thing.

You don't have to put it in your shower. That's what I do. You could find another place, maybe at your desk, in your truck, in your car, wherever it is, but it's going to be a waste of time if you do this and you don't keep it in front of you. [15:07.6]

If you do this, if you do this exercise, you will live a life by design, not by default, because what's going to happen if you do this year after year, after year after year, and all of a sudden, you're going to be like, I am accomplishing so darn much and I'm living the best life I could possibly live, because I'm just not letting life push me around anymore.

Final thought on this, and then I’ll close this out. Pray over this. Pray over your goals and desires. I don't like to do anything out of selfish ambition or conceit, but everything should be done with prayer and petition, and so as you're going through this, say, “Lord, is this the game plan that you have for me? I'm leaning into it. I don't know, I'm just doing my best trying to figure this thing out, but I want to pray through these goals and desires.”

Pray through it. Share it with people that are important to you. Make sure that there's agreement. Make sure it's congruent, and what I mean by that is that it's not overwhelming. You're doing something that you can reasonably accomplish. [16:02.2]

And then go for it. I mean, just go for it. Just, I mean, get it done. You can do this, and I don't care about your age. If you do this over the next two or three years, you're going to wake up and say, “I had no idea I had this in me.” It's in there. You just have to be intentional about it and then get it done.

All right, thank you all for hanging with me to the end here, and this is an important piece of financial planning, believe it or not, is saying, “Hey, we've got something to accomplish.” If you’ve got a lot of credit card debt, we've got to come up with ways to accomplish it and do what we can control. Then the money stuff trickles into life stuff, and here we are doing a whole session on goals and desires, and much more than financial talk by real life talk, so I hope you enjoyed it today.

As usual, I just want to thank you for hanging with me, and I want to remind you that you think different when you think long term. Have a great day. [16:57.7]

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