What is 1-3-5 Goal Setting and How Does it Work?

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Understanding GPS: Goal, Priorities, Strategies

I recently came across a concept called 1-3-5 goal setting. Without even knowing it, I have set and achieved many goals this way. So, I want to share it with you.

What is 1-3-5 Goal Setting?

1-3-5 goal setting is a framework for organizing your thoughts and documenting your planned activities to pursue a challenging goal. Keller Williams Realty popularized the framework. They use it to help real estate agents focus their goals on one main target for the year.

How Does 1-3-5 Goal Setting Work?

The 1-3-5 goal-setting method involves three steps. First, define your objective or goal. Second, determine the key priorities that require your focus and attention. Third, outline the specific strategies or actions needed to accomplish the priorities. Completing these three steps will achieve your stated goal.

I bolded several words in the above passage: goal, priorities, and strategies (GPS). One goal, three supporting priorities, and five detailed strategies are the fundamental building blocks for 1-3-5 goal setting.

So, let’s discuss GPS: goals, priorities, and strategies. First, I will define each term. Second, I will explain their use in 1-3-5 goal setting. Then, before wrapping up, I will address the benefits of this goal-setting technique and a few pitfalls to watch out for.

That’s the plan. Let’s get rolling.

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One Goal

1-3-5 goal setting starts with one goal. By doing so, you begin with your result or destination well-defined.

Your goal should be challenging. It should take as much as one year to complete.

With your goal stated, now is the perfect time to apply another, more well-known goal-setting technique. Specifically, clearly define your objective using the SMART system.

The characteristics of SMART goals include the following:

Specific. Spell out what you want to accomplish. Do not be vague.

Measurable. Develop criteria to track progress and final achievement.

Achievable. Your goal should be challenging yet within your ability to reasonably accomplish.

Relevant. Your plans should align with and advance broader objectives that are important to you.

Time-bound. The goal should have a defined time frame for completion.

With your goal well-defined and documented, it’s time for step 2.

Three Priorities

1-3-5 goal setting requires three priorities. Priorities support your goal. Each one represents what you want to achieve in a specific area.

By accomplishing your priorities, you will reach your goal.

Five Strategies

The last step in the 1-3-5 goal-setting plan requires you to identify five strategies. Each strategy represents actionable steps you must take to achieve your priorities.

1-3-5 Goal Setting Example

Okay. It’s time to put this goal-setting technique to work with an example. I will use one of many possible financial goals that people often have.

One Goal

Goal: Save $10,000 for a down payment on a house by the end of next year.

Three Priorities

Priority #1: Increase income by $300 per month.

Priority #2: Decrease expenses by $400 per month.

Priority #3: Safely invest accumulated savings to earn 5% interest.

Five Strategies

Strategy #1: Ask the boss for a raise.

Strategy #2: Generate extra income from a side hustle.

Strategy #3: Substitute a staycation instead of traveling.

Strategy #4: Reduce dining out to once per month and brown bag lunch every day.

Strategy #5: Open and fund monthly a high-yield savings account.

1-3-5 Goal Setting Template

For those of you who like to work with templates, set yours up like this:

Priority 1:
Priority 2:
Priority 3:
Strategy 1:
Strategy 2:
Strategy 3:
Strategy 4:
Strategy 5:

1-3-5 Goal Setting Diagram

For those who like to visualize things, here is the 1-3-5 goal-setting plan illustrated in a diagram.

1-3-5 goal setting diagramPin

Looking at it this way makes the process similar to using a goal tree.

Okay. Let’s talk about the benefits of using this goal-planning system.

5 Benefits Of 1-3-5 Goal Setting

1. Setting and defining a goal builds your commitment to achieving the result.

2. A clear goal gives direction and helps you move forward daily, weekly, and monthly in pursuit of your objective.

3. Thoughtful goal planning makes you feel in control and reduces stress.

4. Pursuing challenging goals pushes you out of your comfort zone, builds confidence, and increases your self-esteem.

5. Well-planned, written goals dramatically increase your odds of success.

Read more about the benefits of goal planning.

Additional Goal-Setting Tips And Pitfalls To Keep In Mind As You Pursue Your Goals

You may encounter obstacles that can knock you off track when pursuing your goals. Procrastination, lack of motivation, frustration, stress, and burnout are some pitfalls that may arise.

Let’s face reality. Sometimes life gets in the way.

The key is anticipating potential setbacks and being ready and committed to overcome them.

To do so, build extra time into your plans for unexpected delays. Identify alternatives if one or more of your five strategies doesn’t work. Set up milestones and rewards to keep motivation high.

By being resilient and flexible, you can get back on track and still achieve your goals when obstacles arise.

Okay. That’s all I’ve got for today. Please let me share some final thoughts and resources.

But first, save this image to your favorite Pinterest board so you can return here later!

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1-3-5 Goal Setting Final Thoughts

To sum it all up, the 1-3-5 goal-setting system creates a one-page action plan. It requires setting priorities and developing actionable strategies that align with accomplishing one big, specific goal.

Good luck with whatever you are trying to achieve. Furthermore, if you enjoyed this post, check out some of my other goal-setting articles to accelerate your progress.

Author Bio: Tom Scott founded the consulting and coaching firm Dividends Diversify, LLC. He leverages his expertise and decades of experience in goal setting, relocation assistance, and investing for long-term wealth to help clients reach their full potential.

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The article’s conclusion is indicated on a whiteboard.

Read more articles about how to set goals.

1-3-5 Goal Setting Fully Explained