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The 12 Week Year – Hype or the Honest Truth?
Brian Moran in his book, The 12 Week Year (link), says you can get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months.
When you are looking to add a time element to your setting goals and tasks, the 12 week year will give you just what you’re looking for.
The idea of quarterly planning is not new. In fact it’s used in every business today, but Moran points out the interesting difference about the last quarter of a business year. Most businesses show an increase in measurable sales or objective goals in their last quarter. In fact, December – the last 4 weeks of the 12 week 4th quarter, is traditionally the biggest month of the year for many firms.
The end of the year is the line which separates this year’s numbers and next year’s new beginning. It’s how success is measured and December 31st is the deadline. People work harder and more strategically to finish the year as strong as they can and the numbers reflect that effort.
12 weeks, from September 1st to December 31st are the hardest working and biggest reward weeks of the year.
What does that mean for you?
You need to dream BIG before turning your focus to small tasks.
The 12 Week Year asks you to create an aspirational (life goal) and a 3 year goal before even breaking down your goals and tasks.
You know your dream but writing down your aspirational goal is like becoming its best friend.
You will write details about what that goal looks like, feels like and how you fit in that future life.
The 3 year goal is holding that full-fleshed out dream and holding it just out of reach. If it’s a big dream, it may take that long to reach it. Or your 3 year goal may be you living that life and planning for what’s next.
The point is that even your dream needs some structure and a way to visualize how you’ll reach it.
You have a timeline for your goals and tasks.
When you plan your goals and tasks and run them through the 12 week year, you are adding a timeline and accountability marker to your plan.
Instead of having goals and tasks that you put in your schedule when you can, you give them a start and end date within a 12 week period.
A beginning and ending date for your goals and tasks will make it more likely that you will complete them.
You add a level of accountability.
When you choose your goals, you need to first think about how, and if, it can be accomplished in a 12 week period. In our example in other posts of someone writing a book, your 12 goal might be to get 6 chapters written.
Then your first month goal would be to do 2 chapters in the first month, 2 more the second, and 2 more the last one. These monthly goals are part of the 12 week goal (6 chapters) but you set your tasks according to the monthly goal.
In month 1, you would calculate that the 2 chapters are going to total 40 pages. Breaking that up into 30 days, you now know that your task is to write about a page and a half a day.
You could do that without using an arbitrary 12 week period, but by calculating your tasks to be completed in a specific, measurable time, you are holding yourself accountable to produce the results you planned.
Accountability is nothing, more or less, than keeping your promise to yourself.
The short time span allows you to adjust for any changes in your life or your plan.
Planning too far into the future can be a problem.
Your success in one 12 week year will teach you a lot about how you process your tasks and whether you under or overestimated your ability to get them done.
It is much easier to make adjustments to your plan and account for life obstacles when you limit your planning to 12 week blocks. Vacations, health, family obligations and work travel are all examples of factors to be considered when planning an ambitious amount of work. Summer and holidays, for example, might be a time when you have to scale back on your goals.
At the end of your 12 week year, review how you did, what could be improved, what has the highest priority, what might need to be put on the backburner, what has come up that makes one goal harder to pursue versus another. Then write out your goals and schedule your tasks for your next 12 week year.
When the 12 Week Year Doesn’t Work
Although the 12 Week Year is a great method to complete actionable tasks on a timeline, there are times when it won’t work for you.
Remember, the best system in the world is only a good as you choose to make use of it. So, if this is you, keep these things in mind.
You try to do too much.
It can be invigorating to see 12 weeks laid out and it’s easy to overestimate what you can do during that time. That’s why the 12 Week Year has you narrow your focus to only 1-3 goals (the less, the better) and then create small, achievable tasks that you can complete on schedule.
By overreaching and trying to do too much, you’ll find yourself overwhelmed, overworked and unlikely to succeed.
Remember, dream BIG, do SMALL.
You don’t know your WHY
Your Why is your reason.
Not your dream. The reason why it is your dream. It’s the core belief for what you do, say and work for. It’s the spine to your motivation.
If you don’t know what your Why is, stop right now.
Ask yourself about your core belief in what’s important to you and in your life. What is your vision and the purpose behind everything you do.
Find your Why and then hold on to it. Take it out regularly and look at it. Remember it whenever you make a decision about your goals. Make sure everything aligns with your Why, not whatever is going on in your life right now.
You don’t track your actions.
Tracking is how you keep score.
And if you don’t track, you don’t know where you are in the ballgame.
RELATED: What Can You Do In A Year?
When you track and understand your progress, or what may be slowing you down, you are in a position to make adjustments to your plan. You won’t waste 2 or 3 weeks continuing down a path that isn’t working for some reason.
Remember, you want to work less, not more.
Tracking also gives you the immediate reward when you see your small actions adding up to real success towards your goal.
The 12 Week Year is a great addition to my planning system. If you’d like to read more, check out Brian Moran’s The 12 Week Year.
Be sure to read How to Create Goals and Tasks for my complete planning system.
12 week year
Getting started with the 12 week year