The 12 Week Year

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The authors point out the pitfalls of evaluating every year: it is too far off to plan, daily results are hard to connect and usually extraordinary things happen at the end of the year.

To counteract these things, they propose the 12 week year. A timeframe that is long enough to make things happen and short enough to connect daily actions to the bigger goals.

I read this book the end of 2021 to be inspired in planning for the new (calendar) year. Especially this connection of daily actions to bigger goals stood out for me. Greatbess is not in the breakthrough, it is in the consistent daily action. I am looking forward to having a crack at implementing this system.

Update from Sep 2023: I have been doing 12 Week Years consistently since the start of 2022. It continues to be an impactful practice.


Note on the concept: 12 Week Year, after Brian Moran

  • Chapter 1
    • Lack of knowledge isn’t the problem, but lack of application
  • Part I: Fresh insights _ Amazing things happen at the end of the year, the end of a deadline _ 12 weeks equal a year. There are no four periods of a year. Only 12 Week Year after 12 Week Year. _ Pause and celebrate after completing the 12WY _ How much income do I need to live the life I’d like to live? _ Keep score of your daily actions (execution) towards the weekly plan _ Timeblocking * Strategic block: 3 hours of total focus, for most 1 per week is sufficient propulsive _ Reconnect with vision (5-10m) _ 12 week review (10-15m) _ Assess performance breakdowns (10-20m) _ Work on plan tactics (2-2.5h) * Buffer blocks: Grouping together unproductive activities (mail, messages, …), for some 30min/day can be sufficient. Others more Admin * Breakout blocks: We hit plateaus by resting poorly. At least 3 hours long away from work _ _ Usually there are only 1–2 keystone activities (comp. ONE thing) to reach a goal
    • Life balance is about *intentional imbalance*
  • Part II: Putting it together
    • Three principles
      • Accountability: Ownership, proactiveness
      • Commitment: Integrity
      • Greatness in the Moment: Results are only the evidence of a hundred small choices
    • Five disciplines
      • Vision
      • Planning
      • Process Control
      • Measurement
      • Time Use
    • Emotional Cycle of change is mentioned (as in the context of relationships in Stuff my dad never told me about RELATIONSHIPS)
      • After initial optimism, there is a “valley of despair”–things don’t change as quickly as hoped, results are missing. Stick with it!
    • Vision 3 year goal
      • Impossible, Possible, Probably, Given
      • What If? ➡️ How might I? Do not ask how too early or it will shut your visions down
      • Write out what a great life for me would look like. (Enough money to travel to Germany regularly, a flexible job to travel, a job connected to a cause I can get behind)
    • Goals Tactics
      • Specific, Measurable
      • Start with action verb
      • Full sentences
      • Add evaluation date
      • Brainstorm all tactics, select critical few
      • Much higher level of success if you have peer support to talk and encourage
    • Weekly Routine:
      • Score Week,
        • Lead and lag indicators
        • 85% successful and you’re on track (calculate this rather than lag indicators)
        • Daily actions > Weekly outcomes
      • Plan Week (15min),
      • WAM: identify people and schedule when to report to them
    • Accountability is not consequences; it’s ownership
    • Count the cost of commitments. What will I cut out to achieve this?
    • Written plans are implementation intentions: Hyperfocus - How to Manage Your Attention in a World of Distraction, Atomic Habits – An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones and this book all mention them. Seem to be key.
    • First 12 week year
      • first four weeks: They are critical, never miss a thing
      • second four weeks: keep going and debug performance breakdowns
      • last four weeks: hit goals but, more importantly, review what worked and what didn’t.
      • Week 13: celebrate and reflect / refine, launch into next year