This week, I began in earnest to do The 12 Week Year process. It’s an approach popularized by a book of the same title, authored by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington. I’ve had the book for several years now, and even made some attempts at following the process. However, without creating an entire system around it (as shown in the book) and sticking to it over and above all distractions, it is pretty hard to do. As we know, distractions are all around us and hence sticking to what it most important to us sometimes seems impossible to do.
The essential concept of The Twelve Week Year is a very simple one, and many will ask why this was not thought of a long time ago. As we know, most goal-setting systems center around one calendar year as the typical timespan. An obvious example would be new year resolutions. The obvious problem with that, as most people who try it know, is that a year is a long time. Hence. at the start of the year, the end seems to be a very long time away. Hence, it can be quite hard to self-motivate when there is so much time left. It is easy to relax and remain complacent. This is true not only at the individual level, but also at the corporate as well. Even three months away from year end, we can lull ourselves into thinking that there is still plenty of time left. Overall then, there is a tendency to under-perform with such a time horizon.
However, if you divide that time horizon by four, and make your “year” just twelve weeks, AND you aim for the same goal in that shortened time limit as you did for the annual one, things get much more interesting. For a start, you have far less time to waste if your “year,” i.e. goal time horizon, lasts only twelve weeks. You can lose a few days here or there, maybe even an entire week or two, but not much more than that!
Your mental focus grows exponentially because each week becomes a “month,” which means that you have to work harder and smarter to get the tactics you decided upon actually done. There is much less “flexi-time” available than with a traditional annual timescale. Of course, this also means that you need a much tighter system in place, with which to be able to execute the given tasks. There is no longer any room for winging it.
Overall, there is a lot to this 12 Week Year system, and it is not just as simplistic as setting as goal with a 12-week horizon, as many would like to claim. To manifest that 12-week goal as reality, you need a system that is tailored to it. Hence, the system entails weekly written plans, applicable for that week only, created around what you pre-planned for each specific week. Accountability and measurable metrics must also be built in, because without these you basically have a glorified dream, without any specific approach for checking up on how you are doing, and catching yourself when you are slacking. Some of those metrics must be leading indicators i.e. help predict future likelihood of achieving the goal, not just lagging indicators. The 12 Week Year system incorporates those too.
Anyway, without going into the details here, it is all well described in the book, which is about all one really needs. The authors also published a field guide, which gives a more practical edge as it incorporates printable worksheets.
My own experience, as I am sure has been that of other people, is that working from a list is one of the best things you can do to enhance productivity. By contrast, one of the worst things you can do (and I have done it many times) is to sit down at your computer and then say to yourself, “What shall I do now?” Having a list of pre-planned tactics to hand, and then working on them one by one is a truly powerful thing that helps create focus and eliminate distractions. In fact, writing this very article that you are reading is one of the activities planned for this week! I targeted producing three pieces of informational content a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. So far, so good!
Again, the power of this method is that the shortened time-frame leads to much greater focus and productivity. You know how that works. People are far more productive at work on the Friday before they leave on holiday than they are at most other times of the year! Personally, it is working out for me so far. When you know what you have to do and also when, all things being equal, you just go ahead and do it. It is when you are trying to figure that out as you go along that the problems come.
Of course, we need to know why we are doing all this. Key to that, and common to all other goal setting systems, is having the Vision. So, a lot of time is spent on this before even creating the plan. You need to know what you want and why you are doing all this work. In fact, you have to challenge yourself to create a vision of the best version of yourself and your life possible. You don’t want a kind of mediocre half-cooked version. If you even achieve the latter, you are not really doing yourself justice.
Hence, The 12 Week Year system recommends a long-term vision, a huge overview of your life, but also a 36-month vision (which for most people, is actually long enough). You spend time in creating this to begin with, and in developing it over time too, because the vision is constantly developing as you develop and grow. Need less to say, all of this does not just apply to business and wealth creation. It is also applicable to spirituality, health, family; in fact, just about everything that is part of life.
Overall, I would recommend this approach to goal-setting over most any other. Give it a try and see for yourself, especially if you have never tried a formal goal-setting approach before. You may well surprise yourself!