Ep # 15: Goal Setting In 2021 With Katie McKenna

Benjamin Haas |


In this episode, Ben is joined by Katie McKenna from Thrivos Consulting. Katie is a professional coach and bestselling author of "How To Get Run Over By A Truck". 2020 may have kicked your butt and that's ok. As you turn the page to 2021, what do you aspire to? What do you want to change? How do you put a plan into action to get there? Who else should you involve? Listen to two GOAL-PLANNERS, Ben & Katie focus on YOU and next steps YOU can take to get to where you want to go.




Listen on Spotify

You can also watch the full video on YouTube:

Full Transcript:

Benjamin Haas  00:05

All right, welcome Katie to A/B Conversations. We won't CFP® our way out of it. Maybe you can help us coach our way out of it? How about that?

Katie McKenna  00:15

Oh my gosh!

Benjamin Haas  00:17

Like improv here.

Katie McKenna  00:19

Nailed it!

Benjamin Haas  00:19

Welcome. Thank you for doing this today. I'll introduce you very quickly. Katie is the Director of Coaching at Thrivos Consulting. She has an amazing story, if you have not heard her story, go read her book. When it comes to the topic that we want to talk about today, setting goals, getting over hurdles, Katie is second to none. So very pleased to have you with us. This is my favorite topic. I think we certainly share this passion for helping people get to where they want to get to and while we may talk to different audiences, in some cases, I want to hear your experiences with all the different people you help coach. I think some of the advice that we give on the front end is very much the same. So again, thank you for joining us.

Katie McKenna  01:06

Well, thank you for having me. I'm so delighted to be here and I know that coach your way out of it is fantastic. I love it. It's a real move.

Benjamin Haas  01:16

I would say to tee this up, we're probably speaking to anyone, personal or professional, that has goals or things that they aspire to and especially after what's felt like a very heavy 2020 let's hit the reset button, with 2021 right around the corner. Let's just peel back the curtain and give the secret sauce. Share some of the tips that you would give to the people that you work with so that anyone listening into this has more tools in their tool belt leading into 2021. Let me just pass it to you. What are some of the best things?

Katie McKenna  01:55

First of all, I appreciate you acknowledging that this has been a hard year because it has been a hard year for everybody and I think that there is so much to be said about the opportunity to really reflect on what this year has shown us about ourselves and then also renew, let's reset, let's take this next bit of time before the new year and think about what it is we want from this next phase of our lives. I work with leaders, as you said, in all different industries and I think the thing that I see that is the most successful is when you're making plans around achieving goals and the best thing that you can do is always just to break them down. I know that sounds silly. I think that we have a mindset that we should just be able to jump right in and go into school and I'm gonna run a marathon. It's like, okay, I'll just get that 26 miles, no big deal. 26.2 (sorry). But we all know that in order for us to be successful, we need to have that big goal, but then break it down into maybe quarterly, monthly, weekly, and then daily goals and that does a really awesome thing because it allows for us to, number one, have small goals and achieve them and then feel motivated because we continue to move through them. We iterate to ourselves, I am a person who does this. I am a person who works towards this goal and that changes our mindset from being like, I'm just a person who does, like I'm trying to achieve a goal to being a runner, versus being just a person who works out every once in a while. Another big thing that feels kind of basic but I think is important is your why. If you are saying to yourself, okay, I want to lose five pounds. Okay, fine, you listen, you're thinking about that but if you're thinking about, I want to lose weight or I want to get in good shape because I want to be able to be more active with my kids or I want to set a good example or I want to feel confident and good about myself; when you figure out that why, all the other things that you have to give up in order to get to that challenging place, that makes more sense. I think one of the other big things is also making sure that you celebrate those small wins every time that they happen. I don't know about you Ben, are you in a situation? Is it hard for you to celebrate? Like when small, good things happen?

Benjamin Haas  04:33

No because I think you have to and you we speak about that. We speak about it very similarly that sometimes when you have that list and maybe you can give us some real detailed suggestions when you have a laundry list of things to do and we're not just talking to professionals. Anybody write your daily task list that can feel daunting and I think you have to be able to boil it down and go, what's the next micro action that I can take and recognize that step There's now momentum and momentum will build so I'm totally with you. You have to be able to celebrate those things and not make it feel like it needs to be this huge success. It's all steps forward, right?

Katie McKenna  05:12

Absolutely. I love that and I think the micro step is such a good piece that really does matter and you're taking a minute and saying it to somebody, also who you love and trust, who also is supporting you being like, Hey, I did this one thing today and knowing that they'll feel proud of you too is really meaningful thinking that really matters a lot.

Benjamin Haas  05:33

I think any huge goal we recognize that not only in terms of financial planning you want to be able to say, Hey, I know I need to take these steps to get there and saving is hard and making certain decisions to sacrifice something for this trade off, it's hard. But then there's going to be those 2020s, where there's a lot of hurdles in front of you too. Sometimes it's giving yourself permission to go, look, I got through it and that's win enough so I really liked that perspective of going back and maybe let's talk a little bit more about that. Why I think when you have that, why that purpose behind the goal, it makes celebrating those little things all the easier because you're aligned to it.

Katie McKenna  06:17

Absolutely and it becomes a part of your ethos. I love that what you're saying what you said about 2020, when a lot of challenges come up, I saw something this morning on Instagram which was it's important to also acknowledge the fact that some years, we're not going to thrive. Other years, we're just going to survive and you know what, that's a win and it's a big deal.

Benjamin Haas  06:40

Sometimes you got to take the punches and be able to roll with it. So we certainly help people through many different phases of life and that's going to come with its own challenges. So 2020 is no different in that sense but I know you talk a lot and coach a lot about breaking things down. But it all does come back to that why and I think when you can say this is why it matters to me. Again, it makes it easier to kind of shrug off certain things and really focus on it.

Katie McKenna  07:06

Absolutely. I think that is so true and I love the word sacrifice. I think that's really meaningful. That's something that you'd mentioned. What are the sacrifices I have to make in order to get from where I am to where I want to be and that happens a lot with financial planning and in the way that we try to plan our lives. But then the thing that is really interesting is making that sacrifice have meaning and weight and being like, I am seeing something that I love. Saying no to one thing means saying yes to something else.

Benjamin Haas  07:39

Yeah, perspective.

Katie McKenna  07:41

Totally, exactly.

Benjamin Haas  07:42

Totally that perspective and tradeoffs, about those tradeoffs, when in my planning world, again, let's get out of the financial side of it. Everybody's got I operate on the rule of 168. There was a phone call coming in so again, we're just rolling with it.

Katie McKenna  08:05

We're rolling with it because you know what, in 2020, we do what we got to do, it's important.

Benjamin Haas  08:12

Where I was going that rule of 168, there's only 168 hours in a week. So especially for those that look to be super productive and maybe they've got a lot of professional responsibilities, and they have a lot of home responsibilities, whatever it is, we're talking to everybody here, when you think about you giving up maybe 16, 17, 18 hours a day to sleep and work. What do you have left? Sacrificing certain things has to happen to be able to truly align to what matters to us. There has to be those tradeoffs so thinking about how you want to have the ideal life you want to live and then backing your way into the tasks that you need to do to get there. That's like, basics of planning here but we need to have that perspective that it's going to take some sort of sacrifice.

Katie McKenna  09:01

Absolutely. That's really true and I love the idea of, thinking something that you said that really stuck out to me, is the idea of thinking of the life that you want and then understanding that you have a responsibility or an opportunity even to create the life that you want to live. It's just sometimes it's not going to be easy. It just won't be simple. It'll be worth it but it'll be hard.

Benjamin Haas  09:27

So how do you help people find that why? Starting at the beginning of a process, we can build plans and we help people build plans to how to get to where they want to get to but for a lot of people goal setting is hard because they may not be able to completely identify it. Then you get caught in this rut of, we don't really want to sacrifice this because maybe I'm not even really committed to that goal. So how do you help people with the Why?

Katie McKenna  09:51

It's such a great question. I think it's probably very similar to what you do. There's something that's really beautiful about coaching and the reason why I love it is because with coaching, you have the opportunity to give someone your full unadulterated attention, where your entire intent is to try to make their life better. I have some relationships with people that I coach, where they don't know anything about me. They know very little; they barely even know where I live because the conversations are so focused on you and what your needs are and we are so unused to being in positions where someone is going to ask you a question and ask another question, and then get deeper. Here's something interesting that you said and I'm going to ask you a little bit more about that and what we get to do is we get to watch their faces, whether it's on video or in person or we hear their voices or conscious pauses. You get to ask them these questions that potentially exactly as you'd said, that they've never asked before, they've never been asked, no one has ever just looked right at them and been like, I want to know about what you want and that's the way that we get there and then that's one part of it. Another part is just like discussing your values, what gives you joy, those kinds of things and I think that's really similar to the work that you do, right?

Benjamin Haas  11:14

Yeah, I mean, I will admit, I don't always ask the question because it can throw people off, it can make them really uncomfortable but it is not unlike your story. When you're meeting somebody for the first time and truly trying to get to the root of what matters to them. You have to ask that question. If you only had five years to live, how would you want to live it? Or take that one step further. Things that were told to you at a very young age. If you have 24 hours to live if not, what are you going to cram in? What would you have missed?  And to be able to align yourself to then if you know, clearly, that would matter to me at that moment. I've got my whole life ahead of me, it should matter to me now and that's maybe uncomfortable for certain people to think that way. But that truly gets to the root of what do you value. What is your vision? Let's align these things.

Katie McKenna  12:05

Absolutely and I think that those are real conversations that we're just so much less likely to have with new people and the reason why it's uncomfortable is because it's asking us to grow and to think about things from a different perspective, which I don't think we ask of ourselves really often.

Benjamin Haas  12:24

So I think that's a really good launching off point to finding people's why. I know you've got a lot of tricks of the trade here. What are the things that you would coach somebody through to help them then develop good habits? I talked about the rule of 168 but I know you've got far more. What are the things that they would need to have in their own tool belt to then stay aligned to that why?

Katie McKenna  12:52

I'm a big fan, I know we've talked about this offline about the productivity planner. I find that to be an incredibly meaningful tool and it's a great way for you to organize all of your days and it does speak to the rule 168 of being like, Okay, if you've got a work day, or you've got XYZ amount of time, it breaks down your days into like half hour bits. I think that allows for you to really think about what you want to achieve every week and have like these 15 things, then break them down by day and then the most important piece is at the end of the week, what were your wins? What made you successful? What is something that you want to talk to somebody else about and say this is what I did? What were the places that you'd like to improve? And then moving on from there. A big thing for me that I'm a huge fan of, this gentleman named James Clear, he actually went to Denison University, my very tiny school in Ohio and he talks about habit stacking which is really interesting. It's the idea that we all get up, you know if you're a hygiene person, you are getting up and you're brushing your teeth, right? And so what if you stopped to have it on top of that in order to create another small change. So when you brush your teeth, you actually stop after you brush your teeth, get down on the bathroom floor and do 10 pushups. Or you know that you like to have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, you put a journal and you write down the things that you're grateful for, in order to try to create a gratitude practice. Those things are really meaningful, too and, it's every week.

Benjamin Haas  14:32

We talk about that repetition is hard but once it becomes a habit, hopefully it's not as hard but it's staying committed to those things, too. I can bring it back to financial planning. Automate your savings. There's certain things that you should just do by repetition but having those habits and stacking them, I hope helps people shrug off discouragement too and it always sticks with me. It's the stone cutter story, and I'm sure you've heard this somewhere. The stone cutters hammer in the stone, it's 10 hits, it's 100 hits, it's 1000 hits, and you're looking at the stone going, nothing's happening. Why does he keep doing that? Well, it's the 1001 hit that cracks that thing in half and it's not because of that one hit. It's because of the 1000 before it. So I think habits are so important and being able to set that plan the day before for those things that need to squeeze in but not to compromise the good habits.

Katie McKenna  15:30

And also I think that another thing to speak to, if there's a date when they have it doesn't work out. You didn't do the thing. You didn't do anything that you said you would do and be gentle, like we are when you're living in your humaneness. You're a human being, sometimes things come up, sometimes a series of things come up, like 2020. Sometimes these things get lost. The most important piece is resilience, I think it's, number one, be gentle with yourself and number two, say, Okay, why did this happen? And what can I do to avoid that tomorrow? It's not starting over. It's just a break. Right?

Benjamin Haas  16:10

Yeah and I think we see that a lot with people that are going through those life transitions. You're flowing from one phase of life to the next and there's a lot of curveballs. It’s personal relationships, it's professional relationships, it's things out of your control, God forbid, it's health, something of that nature. But you know, I think we have to be able to not let that snowball when we see that financially too. I know that you tell me these things, then just unplug, right? I have to be able to unplug and allow yourself to hit that reset button. So you don't just start letting those habits go because things haven't been going the way that you want. You can unplug, reset, and then get back into those healthy habits.

Katie McKenna  16:51

Ann Lamott, she's a wonderful writer. She said something which I quote all the time which is everything works better when you unplug it for a little bit and then plug it back in, including you. It's really, really meaningful, I think. I mean, it's a tough thing right now I think because it's the end of the year, it's been a wild year and because we've been at home, it feels like well, do I need a vacation because I've been in my house.  I've been where I live in New York and a lot of people are not back in their offices. They are working from home and that creates a space where they're like, well, what am I going to do, just stay in my house still? And it's like, yes, that is exactly what you're going to do. You're going to want to watch Netflix, you're going to drink some hot chocolate, you're going to live the dream in that way and make sure that you're taking care of yourself.

Benjamin Haas  17:41

Just live in it is my other thought there as you were sharing. That is when we think about things that we may be able to do better in 2021. Right, trying to look forward trying to plan. I know this is a loaded question clearly coming from me and to you and the other way around but how important is an accountability partner? No matter what goal you're trying to have, it's the most important thing, right?

Katie McKenna  18:07

I couldn't agree with you more and I will say when I'm thinking about this question, like I am a person who drinks my own champagne, right? And that I am a coach, but I have a coach because I know how important it is for me to have somebody who I need to be accountable to. That can be a coach that can be a friend, it can be a group of friends, there can be your family, your partner and the thing that's interesting is that we are very likely to break promises to ourselves because it doesn't matter. What's the big deal, that kind of a thing but when somebody else is invested in you and is going to be checking in on you, the feeling of disappointing somebody else is so much deeper than having to do that one hard thing. Also, it kind of levels up when you are investing in yourself and investing in a coach because you have skin in the game. I know for myself, like I'm paying XYZ dollars in order to make this goal happen and if I don't do it, then I've just thrown this money away and that doesn't feel good. Nobody as hurt as a Certified Financial Planner, that's not good planning.

Benjamin Haas  19:19

It's not good planning at all. So it's not only to have the accountability partner but I think we can all recognize that. Getting through things on our own, especially when things feel heavy. If these goals really matter to you and you're starting to hit hurdles and not knowing how to get over it. It truly is that mental image to me of having somebody shoulder that load. It's that joys can be doubled but the hard things can be cut in half too so I think it's really important. I'm sure you're taking on new clients.

Katie McKenna  19:51


Benjamin Haas  19:52

I'm taking on new clients.

Katie McKenna  19:53


Benjamin Haas  19:55

Use this podcast as a reason to check to see what help is out there.

Katie McKenna  20:01

And I will say just as a side note, for anybody who's listening, please feel free to find me anywhere and if you mentioned this podcast, I'd be happy to give you a free session.

Benjamin Haas  20:10

How about that? Yeah. I think that the thing that you'd said about the accountability piece is of someone to shoulder being able to like whiteboard and think about a challenge creatively with somebody else's, versus like the way that we rotate a problem in our mind over and over again, it feels impossible. Having somebody else come in with a fresh perspective can be so meaningful and I also love the idea of your joy is doubled, because having a cheerleader having someone to like root you on, man, is that life changing? Like how good is that? We need it, as well and I think I keep coming back to this word perspective and that's why I really love having this conversation with you because you have this perspective of working with many different people. The challenges may be different but really at the root, they're not and we see the same thing. If somebody has this specific goal. I've taken people through this before I've seen the dark alleys that people can go down or the things that can be the hiccup. There's a wealth of experience in that to be able to help somebody through that. So it's not just having somebody to coach and help you but there's a lot of experience that comes with that. Very self-serving comment for me but it was the truth.

Katie McKenna  21:29

The thing that's interesting Ben and the thing that I know about you as a person, and I feel about myself is like it's self serving, yes but it is also I know, it's a part of your mission. It's part of my mission is that the reason why we're here is to take the gifts and skills that we've worked with over time and support other people who might need it. That's the end game. That is just making sure that people feel taken care of and seen and hear and if we can, we can give them some gifts some insights then awesome what a win.

Benjamin Haas  22:00

We'll do it. So I want to wrap up. We've given hopefully, a lot of good secret sauce here and some simple tips. This isn't rocket science but this is the perspective I think certain people need to hear going into next year. In the spirit of kind of New Year's resolutions. I like the idea that in order to bring something new into your life, you got to let something go. What say you about that philosophy?

Katie McKenna  22:29

I think that's very meaningful is understanding about what asking yourself the questions of what's serving me and what is not serving me and I think that even speaks to your rule of 168. If we only have a certain number of hours every week, then if there's something that is not doing right by us, then let that go and I think that's really meaningful. I couldn't agree with you more.

Benjamin Haas  22:55

So I think I'd suggest that people maybe start there. When you take your kind of statement of where you are in life or finances we talk about your statement of holdings, it's I've got this, I've got that but I'm holding this grudge. Let's take that off our balance sheet, so make space for the good in 2021 and hopefully these tips have been helpful.

Katie McKenna  23:16

Absolutely and I love also just to circle on the 2021 and being like 2020 has really helped us to laser focus on what we value. What we have, what we miss, and what actually matters and that's a really cool thing to think about. What did you figure out that you have deep gratitude for 2021? And what do you want to maintain? And in 2021, if given kind of a fresh start, what is it that you want to cultivate? What do you want to grow? And what are the steps you can take in order to get there?

Benjamin Haas  23:49

So well said Katie, thank you. This has been great. It's always a pleasure and awesome to see you. Anything else that you want to throw out here? Katie McKenna, Thrivos Consulting.

Katie McKenna  24:02

That's great. So delighted to be with you. This was such a joy. Definitely do take some time, reflect and renew yourself. Think about what you want in this new year. I think that that's the only thing that I could recommend is take that little bit of rest time to think about what you want and need.

Benjamin Haas  24:19

Great way to close it out. Thank you so much for your time.

Katie McKenna  24:22

Thanks, Ben. Have a great day.

Benjamin Haas  24:24

See you soon. Bye.


Katie McKenna and Thrivos Consulting are not affiliated with LPL Financial and Haas Financial Group.

Tracking # 1-05092066