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Episode Summary

If a prospect met with 100 financial advisors, at least 95 of them would ask some variation of:

“What are your goals?”

It’s not a bad question by any means.

But, there are numerous problems and challenges inherent with simply asking about goals:

And on and on.

The biggest hole in the goals-based approach, though, isn’t listed above.

It’s the singular focus on what clients want to accomplish rather than what’s truly important to them.

Too much focus on WHAT.

Not enough focus on WHY.

Here’s an example from health and fitness.

It’s commonplace to set health and fitness goals.

For example, the goal might be to exercise once per week.

That focuses on what the person wants to accomplish.

But, why do they want to exercise once per week?

Maybe it’s because they want to be more present and active with their kids/grandkids.

If we bring it back to financial advice, suppose someone says their goal is to retire at 65.

That’s what they want to accomplish. But, again, it completely misses why it’s important to them.

Maybe it’s not about retiring and it’s actually about being able to spend more time with the grandkids in another state.

Here’s the thing…

When you tap into someone’s “Why” you create an emotional connection to the goal that ignites motivation and behavior change.

At the same time, knowing “Why” also offers a springboard into a deeper conversation around other ways to be more present and active with kids and grandkids.

The goals that actually inspire clients and get them to change their behavior are the ones that connect the “What” and the “Why.”

Or, as Greg McKeown says in Essentialism, they’re both “meaningful and measurable.”

To set better goals and change client behavior, financial advisors need to move beyond a singular focus on goals.

And, instead, establish a “Goal Hierarchy” that goes beyond the “What” and connects to the “Why.”

Here’s an example of a goal hierarchy in health and fitness:

goal hierarchy

Here’s a simplified example of how this can translate to financial advice:

values based advice

The top two circles are how things are typically done with a singular focus on goals.

The bottom three circles represent a “Goal Hierarchy” approach to financial advice, where you start with “Why” and then move to “What.”

And, fortunately, when it comes to explaining the power and the execution of a goal hierarchy, there’s none better than Eric Trexler.

He’s been utilizing this approach with his fitness training clients for years to help them set better goals, change their behavior, and live a better life.

And he explains how it can be applied to create more meaningful goals for clients in financial advice.


Things You’ll Learn

  • The three components of a goal hierarchy
  • Why SMART goals aren’t effective
  • Why most goals fail to create intrinsic motivation
  • A psychological framework to enhance your connection and communication with clients
  • Why clients need “approach goals” rather than “avoidance goals”
  • The power of mental contrasting to identify what’s important to you
  • The optimal level of difficulty when setting goals


About Eric Trexler

Eric Trexler is the Director of Education at Stronger By Science, a co-creator of the MacroFactor Diet App, and a co-author of Monthly Applications in Strength Sport (MASS).

More importantly, Eric is passionate and dedicated to helping his coaching clients set better goals and actually change their behavior to get the outcome they desire.

Eric doesn’t just tell give his clients workout and nutrition plans. He embeds psychology research and methods to create results.


Other Episodes You’ll Like On Uncovering What’s Truly Important To Clients



Eric Trexler Instagram

Stronger By Science

Stronger By Science Podcast

MacroFactor App

“An Evidence-Based Approach To Goal Setting And Behavior Change” by Eric Trexler

“Goal Setting and Behavior Change” – Stronger By Science Podcast Episode

How To Connect by Thich Nhat Hanh


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