My Twelve Week Year Experiment
Last summer I published a review and commentary about The Twelve Week Year, by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington – a book I’d chosen for my book club, Rick’s Read to Lead. “The Twelve Week Year” is a formula for condensing goal achievement into 12-week periods rather than over 12 months – an approach which generated a lot of interest and discussion amongst our book club participants.
I’ve always been a planner so I decided to give the principles outlined in the book a try by implementing them in my own business. It seemed to be a natural fit. For thirty years it’s been my practice to structure my work quarterly. With a specific, intense focus, I’d often work for 90 days then take a week of vacation. But the book presented a model that helped me develop more effective tactics and a better system for tracking my progress.
The authors state that “your business vision is most powerful when it is created in light of your personal vision”, with which you have a strong emotional connection. The book club group discussed the value of knowing what’s important, being able to articulate it, and allowing our goals to take shape around our “why.”
Why Focus On Your Why?
The core of my “why” comes from being a thinker and a curious, lifelong learner, then taking that knowledge and putting it into action to make a difference. It’s an integral part of my business. By clarifying and verbalizing my why, I got more passionate about how I select and work with clients. It helped me better identify who I work best with so I could manifest that by attracting people and businesses that are a good fit.
This has made a difference in my attitudes, enthusiasm, motivation, energy and interaction with clients. Until I started putting these principles into practice, I’d not fully connected what I do in my business with being passionate or motivated by a deeply ingrained “why.” This connection creates more positive reasons for what I do. I am now more clearly motivated by the why, when in the past I was more focused on results. This positive drive makes it easier to accomplish my objectives.
The “12 Week Year” is characterized by the authors as “a structured approach that fundamentally changes the way you think and act.” They point out that results are a direct by-product of actions, which are manifestations of underlying thinking. When thinking changes, everything shifts. I’ve found that I now consciously associate “why” with my actions. It helps me hyper-focus on what’s really important now. It’s easier to filter out what’s not necessary and unimportant things more easily fall by the wayside. Clarity I didn’t have before has manifested itself in various ways including facilitating faster decision making.
It’s the Execution That Counts
It is not lack of knowledge or ideas that limits our achievements but lack of execution, according to the authors. The “12 Week Year” approach helps define what is important to do today so that long-term objectives can be attained. Tasks not directly related to driving results are pushed aside for what really matters in the short-term.
The book has helped me develop a way to better organize my time and efforts so that I can stay on track with what really matters. In order to be self-accountable to my goals, I put together a tracking system using an Excel spreadsheet. It’s a systematic approach that translates my 90-day focus into weekly tactics, tracks my progress, and keeps score. The scoring component tracks performance based on what was planned and what has been accomplished, and then summarizes it for the 12-week period. If you’d like a copy of my spreadsheet, just email me and I’d be happy to send it to you.
The authors recommend “strategic blocks” of uninterrupted time each week when efforts are focused on producing breakthrough results. I set aside several two-hour strategic blocks per week and use them as focused work blocks and strategic planning for my business and my 12-week year. How many and how you increment these blocks of time can be adapted to what works for you personally. They are important appointments with yourself that enable you to accomplish the tasks that are tied to your goals. I find myself able to do more for my clients because of these work blocks I reserve.
The Results Speak for Themselves
As a result of implementing the approach presented in The Twelve Week Year, I’m more productive and efficient. I find that I’m able to work more on my business than strictly in it. One of the greatest values in making this shift is that I’m more in control of my business, which enables more focus on my clients. I’m increasing my client base in a more positive way. My work has become a greater extension of what really matters to me. I’m finding more satisfaction in what I’m doing and doing more of it.
If you’re looking for some great summer reading that will benefit your business – and your life – I’d highly recommend “The Twelve Week Year”. It is one of those tomes that will forever change my way of thinking and has brought a richness to my life and business that I couldn’t have imagined.