Continuing my theme of Personal Development books, is one that comes recommended time and time again. The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington.
When I’m in my business networking groups and the discussion of what must-have books are there out there on personal development, goal planning, and business management, this is one title that just keeps coming back. Time and time again it’s recommended, and the 12 Week Year arguably earns it.
For the most part, it’s taken as a way of accomplishing goals and setting up your life and career for success. As you’ll see in my review there’s a bit more to it than that. With any good system comes an important caveat. You must do it. While the recommendations for the book are common, the follow-up question, “how has it worked for you?” might get more subdued answers.
The program for the 12 Week Year had its genesis in sports. Many of the themes you’ll see in way of description and example are definitely sports oriented. That leaves this reviewer unsurprised that it’s so popular in the business community. There’re more than a few sports enthusiasts, and it’s common to refer to entrepreneurship and business as a game or something we struggle with against incredible odds.
In sports of course, second place is not something you strive for, and the concept of excellence and winning is strong. This also is not unlike business. While we have plenty of examples of companies who “know their place”, ones that really make a difference int he market are the ones that believe there can only be one winner.
Changing the Mindset
The concept of a “12 Week Year” is something that takes a bit of time and explanation to accept and start to work within. Our business cycles are almost always annual in nature and we do our planning and draw up our goals and action plans, and make it happen. Even in my work with the Personal Retreat, I learned very quickly this model is not really sustainable. The world moves too fast to stick to our plans and we must be a bit more dynamic.
Ultimately when we get to the end and assess our annual planning cycle, things always got off track. The success of an annual system relies on being able to adapt. That’s not always easy to do and with a 12-month cycle, you might not have time to do course corrections.
Breaking things into 12-week chunks introduces shorter-term goals. These offer more adaptability to your planning, faster results on your actions, and you see greater progress on your goals overall.
More Than Planning
The book offers much more than just planning a 12 Week Year. It also offers some strategies and concepts to goal management and focus. Early on I tagged this great part about commitment. Each successful commitment has four components; Strong Desire, Keystone Actions, Counting the Costs, and Action on Commitments, not Emotions. I can readily accept this and it made me think of my successful commitments in the past.
Another important tagged section was on accountability. I’ve always felt that accountability wasn’t a chance for someone to give you “the look”. Saying you didn’t meet the goals you said you would is such a bad feeling anyway, we don’t need someone to make us feel that we let them down too. Accountability is more about ownership. That we own the goal, and we have the choice in if we execute the steps to succeed in that goal. Once we accept that we didn’t accomplish it because we didn’t have enough ownership turns the whole notion of accountability around.
Sometimes you read a concept and you just think “why didn’t I think of that sooner?” The idea of lag and lead indicators was one such moment for me. The relationship between these is so simple and makes so much sense I don’t know why I hadn’t learned it long ago. A lag indicator is the result of the action. It’s what we typically measure our progress by. I fixed the clock and now it tells time. So, the lag indicator is the second hand moving and the parts spinning. That all didn’t happen in a vacuum. There were several lead indicators that occurred before that. For example, I might have gotten a YouTube video on clock repair. I might have bought the tools I needed. Those had to happen before the clock moved again. Identifying these as what we need to do before we see results is very important and can be encouraging.
Building a System
The system they put together on how to plan and execute on your 12 Week Year is really good, in my opinion. Starting with the requirements of every successful commitment, we build each step to achieve our goals. They readily link back to what we find important about our lives, and by their nature, cement the commitments to make them easier to accomplish.
First there’s an assessment phase about what you really want out of life. You can pick a few areas – for your first 12 Week Year it’s recommended to just start with a few, so you can get the system. Accomplishment of smaller plans fuels inspiration to do more. It’s all about building momentum.
Now you plan your strategy. Pick the actions you need to accomplish over the 12 Week Year to reach those goals. Spread them out over the 12 weeks depending on how much time you have to commit. Now you’re ready for your first week.
Get a planner out and plug in those actions for the coming week. Then set up a weekly check on your progress at the end of each week. This is where you note your lead indicators and if you are hitting your goals for the week. You can also then see progress toward your goals.
Still Need Tools
As you can see, this system is not something you can commit to memory and execute. It is a little complex and without a framework for all this information, you might have to use several sheets of paper. You need the help of some worksheets to create your plans and track progress. This is where I had to spend an unusually long amount of time.
Post-book worksheets and tools should be easy to find and use. Links within the book should get to a website where you can download the latest information. I did find some information, but it seemed a bit outdated. I didn’t check closely on the document creation dates I got, but it seemed to me some of them were developed before the edition of the book that I had so they didn’t completely apply. It left me a bit confused – especially when some of these concepts are new to me and I need a guide.
After what felt like an hour I finally stumbled across some person’s site that they offered a spreadsheet that seemed to do the job great. It needed a few tweaks, but I feel I really improved on it and I’m very pleased on how it measures my progress.
I don’t think I should have had to work so hard to get these tools. I needed something that just worked out of the box to help with my adoption of the system.
Definitely Worth the Read
In closing I feel that reading the book is still worth it. I can say that I owe it my thanks for helping me break through some weight loss goals that I had felt were insurmountable. The system has pushed me in other ways to be more excellent and accomplish new goals as well. At this point I’m on week 6 of my first 12 Week Year and I can say that I feel great about my progress and that I have a strong sense of accomplishment.
If you would like to get a copy of the spreadsheet I’m using, fill out the contact form below and I’ll send it over.
Thanks for reading!