What would you do if you only had 12 weeks in a year?
In this summary of their best selling book, The 12 Week Year, authors Brian Moran and Michael Lennington reveals how to increase your productivity and overall progress (in whatever endeavor) 10-fold by treating each 12-week block as a "whole year".
The authors wants us to break our "normal" thought patterns and challenge ourselves into getting so much more done in a year by redefining the year as 12 weeks instead of 12 months.
Who should read this?
People who want to get the most out of their time and reach their goals faster.
People who are tired of accomplishing very little year in and year out.
People who never got around into starting passion projects or new endeavors for "lack of time".
The 12-Week Year Main Ideas
Quick Summary of The 12-Week Year
The 12-week plan is the first thing that you need to create. This will be your starting point. It will contain a checklist of all the things that you need to do in order to meet your 12-week goals.
Here's my own personal take on this:
Suppose you want to earn a passive income of $1,000 per month via affiliate earnings and ads. You set this as your 12-week goal.
Your 12-week plan, therefore, will contain all the necessary steps to achieve that $1k/month earning.
This will include:
1. Choosing a niche. Researching if it has enough demand and deciding if it will generate enough potential traffic for affiliate commissions.
2. Setting up the website (buying the domain, choosing a web host, setting up the overall look of the site).
3. Creating the content for the website. This may include getting writers or setting up your content calendar and coming up with a steady source of ideas.
And so on. You get the idea.
Once you've laid out your plan, it's not time to execute.
This, my friend, is my most important takeaway from the entire book.
Think about it: We may come up with the best 12-week idea and step-by-step plan. But without the necessary mindset and action to consistently execute the tasks, nothing will ever happen.
Periodization is a technique used by high level athletes wherein they identify one skill they want to improve and then perfects it in a given time frame before moving on to the next skill. The authors argue that the same approach works for work and other areas in life.
The 12-week year will be perfect for Periodization as the shorter period will require focus and allow more skills to be honed.
Vision is crucial for moving closer to your target. It's composed of two parts:
1. Write down your long term goals (10 years). Be very specific about each entry.
2. Write down in detail what your ideal life looks like in 3 years in relation to your long-term goals.
What you're doing here is "get a feel" of your long-term goals by moving it closer to your present. It will allow you to get a more realistic view of your goals and hopefully allow you to craft a strategy that will help you bring your vision to fruition faster.
Use "Lead and Lag" indicators to measure your progress.
Lead indicators are the actual actions you take to make the lag (your end target) happen.
It's crucial that you measure this on a weekly basis and grade yourself realistically. Only through constant checking and re-adjustment of our actions and goals will we be more primed to hit our goals.
In general, your week should be composed of 3 types of "protected" hours:
1. Strategic block - 3 hours of absolutely no interruption. Each moment will be spent on taking the necessary steps/actions to move you closer to your goals.
2. Buffer block - Hours (or minutes) set aside to take care of all disruptions/interruptions in one sitting (replying to an email, returning a call, etc.,)
3. Break-out block - Down time. Helps you recharge. Think personal activities and hobbies.
My Personal Takeaways
We can accomplish so much more by following a 12-week year strategy.
If your vision is rooted in a 12-week plan, you'll have a much better chance of reaching it.
Be diligent in measuring your progress. It's essential in knowing if you're on the right track.
My Favorite Quotes from The 12-Week Year
The number-one thing that you will have to sacrifice to be great, to achieve what you are capable of, and to execute your plans, is your comfort.”
It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?
“We mistakenly believe that there is a lot of time left in the year, and we act accordingly. We lack a sense of urgency, not realizing that every week is important, every day is important, every moment is important. Ultimately, effective execution happens daily and weekly!”
If we did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.
Accountability is not consequences, but ownership. It is a character trait, a life stance, a willingness to own your actions and results regardless of the circumstances.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.
This life isn’t driven by the you who settles or gives in to procrastination and doubt, but by the optimal you, the best you, the confident you, the healthy you.
A vision without a plan is a pipe dream.
It's not what you know; it's not even who you know; it's what you implement that counts.
To be truly effective, your daily activity must align with your long-term vision, strategies, and tactics.
The encouraging news is that, regardless of how you’ve performed in the past or how you are performing currently, you can be great, beginning today, simply by choosing to do the things you know you need to do.
Benjamin Franklin said, “If we take care of the minutes, the years will take care of themselves.
In the end, you have greater control over your actions than you do your results. Your results are created by your actions.
Vision is the starting point of all high performance. You create things twice; first mentally, then physically.
"Intentionality" is your secret weapon in your war on mediocrity.
Most people know how to get back in shape— eat better, exercise more— they just don’t do it. It’s not a knowledge problem; it’s an execution problem.
Without a compelling vision, you will discover there is no reason to go through the pain of change.
Vision is the starting point of all high performance. You create things twice; first mentally, then physically. The biggest barrier to high performance is not the physical manifestation but the mental creation. You will never outpace your mental models. Vision is the first place where you engage your thinking about what is possible for you
In 12 week planning, you identify the top one to three things that will have the greatest impact, and pursue those with intensity. The 12 week plan focuses on a few key areas and creates the energy and urgency to act.
Productive tension is the uncomfortable feeling you get when you’re not doing the things you know you need to do.
Your current actions are creating your future. If you want to know what your future holds, look to your actions; they are the best predictor of your future.
The first step is to create a personal vision, a vision that clearly captures and articulates what you want in life. The personal vision should define the life you want to live in all areas, including spiritual, relationships, family, income, lifestyle, health, and community.
About the Author Brian Moran and Michael Lennington
Brian Moran is an author, coach, entrepreneur, and a public speaker. He held management positions at PepsiCo and UPS.
Michael Lennington is a consultant and coach.