Darrell Cain Shares Goal Setting Advice
For many people, the end of a year is time to reflect upon what’s been achieved and what’s ahead. It’s also an excellent time to review your finances and see where you stand—and where improvements can be made for the new year. However, setting effective financial goals isn’t only about creating a laundry list of things to do in the coming year. It’s also about taking a step back and considering how to make your goals achievable.
When Darrell Cain founded CWA in 1985, he was driven to find success not only for his clients but also for himself and his family.
“I would sit down every Sunday evening after I got my kids to bed and I would write out my goals for the week,” explains Darrell. “I kept track of my immediate goals, my one-year goals, my five-year goals and any goals that were longer than 10 years.”
At the time, much of this goal-setting revolved around how much Darrell thought he needed to accumulate in order to quit working: 144 months of savings. However, as so many of us realize on our journey to financial freedom: things change. His lifestyle grew. His family’s needs morphed over time. And, not surprisingly, as he helped more clients by making a profound financial impact on their lives, his motivation for working shifted. A few years later, his original savings goal didn’t quite align with his emerging passions in life.
This is why it’s important to set aside time to not only set goals but also to regularly evaluate them. The new year is often a great time to think about financial goals and many people do. In Fidelity’s 2020 New Year Financial Resolutions Study, 53 percent of Americans surveyed focus their financial resolve on saving more money and paying down debt.
To kick off the goal-setting season, Darrell shared some specific insights on how to set, evaluate and achieve goals:
Write down S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Common financial wisdom calls for goals to be S.M.A.R.T: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. Applying this rubric to your goal can truly help you hone in on a tangible goal with a clear direction for how it can be achieved.
To track his goals, Darrell writes them down and always recommends to others that they do the same. This process not only helps you tease out the nuances of how to achieve your goals, but also encourages you to fully commit to it.
“Everyone has a value system of what’s important to you,” notes Darrell. “When things change and you have to re-evaluate: be pragmatic enough to make those changes within the context of your value system. In the balance of life, you have to look at what’s important to you and constantly re-evaluate.”
Life’s ebb and flow will throw you curve balls; however, you can be prepared if you regularly re-evaluate your goals and make adjustments. So, set aside the time to do it frequently. For many people, this time of year is a great time for re-evaluation. However, Darrell has also found the summer to be a contemplative time, as family and work time slow down a bit for vacation.
No matter what, remember to be nimble because the more flexibility you have in achieving your goals, the more likely you can weather unexpected changes. If you are regularly re-evaluating and identifying ways to meet your goals, then you are planning ahead, putting you in a proactive position to overcome obstacles.
Share your goals.
Darrell also believes in the power of community to achieve goals: “Throughout my life, I specifically shared my goals with others and asked them to support me in my goals. You may be surprised that when you share with people, they will buy into your success and help.”
A financial planner can assist in setting and tracking your goals but also consider how your community, peers, friends and family can help, as well. For example, early in Darrell’s career, he learned that his clients were just as invested in his business’ success as he was in theirs. Even now, Darrell often finds new inspiration for goals based upon the goals set by his clients.
“There’s power in aligning other people’s goals with yours. Community means more than a group of people who want the same things and like each other. It means that we have common needs and goals. Through the power of each other, we can achieve those goals,” Darrell said.
Goals should not only be about your business but also other aspects of life that are important to you: health, family and anything of personal value. To keep them realistic, goals should never tip the scales of balance.
“A common mistake is to pour all of your being into a goal, which creates a lack of balance within your value system,” Darrell said. “Failure of balance leads to the failure of the goal. Balance is the hardest thing.”
It’s important to approach your goals with passion. However, too much aggression can lead to burnout and failure. Remember: if you pick up a new goal, you may need to put another down or adjust expectations.
Don’t compare yourself.
“Don’t run a race looking over your shoulder,” says Darrell. “There’s always someone in front of you that’s more successful. You’ve got to let that go and be happy with who you are and where you are.”
Of course, it’s natural to be competitive and want to know how you stack up against your peers. But remember: no two person’s goals should be the same. Success is relative and being overly self-critical can be a detriment to your progress.
Ready to make a fresh start in the new year?
Keep in mind that you don’t have to be alone in working toward your goals. Lean into your well-honed skillset and ask for help from your community. If your goal is financial, don’t hesitate to work with a financial planner. No matter the scale of your goal, it’s never too late to start the work.
After you’ve set your goals, Darrell suggests one small next step: work backward. If you have set a goal, you already know the end. Take a step back and think about how your current path gets you there. You may need to make some changes.
“Go into the future and leave the negativity of the past and restrictions of the present behind,” Darrell encourages. “There are 24 hours in a day and you get what you choose. Don’t be surprised by the outcome!”
Make this year the year you embark on the path to meet your financial goals with confidence. Speak with a member of our team for a complimentary consultation.
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