12 Week Year cover

12 Week Year

Author – Brian P. Moran

Switch – Chip and Dan Heath
Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
Feel the fear and do it anyway – Susan Jeffers

Redefining the Year

The fact is every week counts! Every day counts! Every moment counts! We need to be conscious of the reality that execution happens daily and weekly, not monthly and quarterly.

Stop thinking in terms of a year; instead focus on shorter time frames.

“There’s nothing like a deadline to get you motivated.”

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Effective execution does not happen monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually; it happens daily, ultimately moment by moment.

And just like you do at the end of a calendar year, every 12 weeks you take a break, celebrate, and reload. It might a three-day weekend or a weeklong vacation; the important thing is that you take time out to reflect, regroup, and reenergize.

Focusing on a 12 week year keeps you from getting ahead of yourself and ensures that each week counts.

The Emotional Connection

The secret to living your life to its potential is to value the important stuff above your own comfort.
The critical first step to executing well is creating and maintaining a compelling vision of the future that you want even more than you desire your own short-term comfort, and then aligning your shorter term goals and plans, with that long-term vision.
Think about what you truly want to achieve.

  • What legacy do you want to create?
  • What do you want for yourself and for your family?
  • What do you want spiritually?
  • What level of security do you seek?
  • What level of income and fulfillment do you want from your career?
  • What interests do you wish you could pursue?
  • What do you really want to do with the time you have been allotted?

Vision is the starting point of all high performance.

You must be clear on what it is you want to create.

Begin with your personal vision, what you want your life to look like in the future.

What your business needs to look like in order to align with and enable your personal vision.

It is your personal vision that creates an emotional connection to the daily actions that need to take place in your business.

A compelling personal vision creates passion.
Think about something that you are passionate about, and you will always find a clear vision behind it.

The personal vision should define the life you want to live in all areas, including spiritual, relationships, family, income, lifestyle, health, and community.

When the task seems too difficult or unpleasant, you can reconnect with your personal objections and vision. It is this emotional connection that will provide you with the inner strength to forge ahead in spite of any difficulties, thus enabling you to achieve your dreams and desires.

Your brain has the ability to change and develop physiologically, and it does so based on how you use it.

One Week at a Time

It is so important to construct plans that are not only numbers-based, but also identify specific, critical activity.

“The greatest predictor of your future are your daily actions.”

💡To use your weekly plan effectively, you will need to spend the first 15~20 minutes at the beginning of each week to review your progress from the past week and plan the upcoming one.
In addition, the first five minutes of each day should be spend reviewing your weekly plan to plan that day’s activities.

With the 12 week year, a year is now equivalent to 12 weeks, a month is now a week, and a week is now a day.

Visit the website at (www.12weekyear.com) to see a sample of a weekly plan.

Confronting the Truth

Measurement builds self-esteem and confidence because it documents progress and achievement.

Can you imagine the CEO of a large corporation not knowing the numbers? It’s no different for you or me. As the CEO of your own life and business, you need to know the numbers.

If you are executing at a high level and the results you want or not coming, then it’s time to go back and adjust the plan.

The best way to measure your execution is to work from a weekly plan and evaluate the percentage of tactics completed: Weekly Scorecard.
The weekly scorecard you measure execution, not results. You score yourself on the percentage of activities you complete each week.

Strive for excellence, not perfection.

We have found that if you successfully complete 85% of the activities in your weekly plan, then you will most likely achieve your objectives.

Your plan must contain the top priorities that will add the most value and have the greatest impact.

Productive tension is the uncomfortable feeling you get when you’re not doing the things you know you need to do.

Even with the weekly score of 65~70% you will do well if you stay in the game. You won’t accomplish what you are capable of, but you will do well.

It’s important to remember that the process is not about being perfect, but rather about getting better and better.


Everything you want to accomplish in life requires an investment of your time.

To realize your potential, you must learn to be more mindful about how you spend your time.

Intentionality is your secret weapon in your war on mediocrity.

“If we take care of the minutes, the years will take care of themselves.” – Benjamin Franklin

Block our regular time each week dedicated to your strategically important tasks.

Performance Time is the best approach to effectively allocating time that we have ever encountered.

  • strategic blocks
  • buffer blocks
  • breakout blocks
  • Strategic Blocks: A strategic block is a three-hour block of uninterrupted time that is scheduled into each week. During this block you accept no phone calls, no faxes, no emails, no visitors, no anything. Instead, you focus all of your energy on preplanned tasks—your strategic and money-making activities.
    Strategic blocks concentrate your intellect and creativity to produce breakthrough results. You will likely be astounded by the quantity and quality of the work you produce. For most people, one strategic block per week is sufficient.
  • Buffer Blocks: Buffer blocks are designed to deal with all of the unplanned and low-value activities—like most email and voicemail—that arise throughout a typical day. Almost nothing is more unproductive and frustrating than dealing with constant interruptions, yet we’ve all had days when unplanned items dominated our time.
    For some, one 30-minute buffer block a day is sufficient, while for others, two separate one-hour blocks may be necessary. The power of buffer blocks comes from grouping together activities that tend to be unproductive so that you can increase your efficiency in dealing with them and take greater control over the rest of your day.
  • Breakout Blocks: To achieve greater results, what’s often necessary is not actually working more hours, but rather taking some time away from work.
    An effective breakout block is at least three-hours long and spent on things other than work. It is time scheduled away from your business during normal business hours that you will use to refresh and reinvigorate your mind, so that when you return to work, you can engage with more focus and energy.

“If you are not in control of your time, you are not in control of your results.”

The more you can create routine in your days and weeks, the more effective your execution will be.
The best way to accomplish this is to create a picture of an ideal week.

The concept of an ideal week is to plan on paper all the critical tasks that occur in a typical week and organize them so you can be most productive.
If you can’t fit all the things you do on paper, there is no way you will get them done in reality.

As you create your ideal week, it helps to schedule routine tasks at the same time, on the same day each week, if possible.

Consider when you tend to be at your best. Are you a morning person or are you better in the afternoon or evening? Schedule your most important activities during your prime time.

Accountability as Ownership

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.

The fact is that there are no have-tos. Everything we do in life is a choice.

When you understand that true accountability is about choice and taking ownership of your choices, everything changes.

The only person who can hold you accountable for anything is your, and to be successful you must develop the mental honesty and courage to own your thinking, actions, and results.

Interest versus Commitment

To be truly great at what we do, we have to become better at keeping our promises.

A commitment is your personal promise. Keeping your promise to others builds trust and strong relationships, and keeping promises to yourself builds character, esteem, and success.

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” – Peter Drucker

4 keys to successful commitments:

  1. Strong desire
    In order to fully commit to something, you need a clear and personally compelling reason.

The desired end result needs to be meaningful enough to get you through the hard times and keep you on track.

  1. Keystone actions
    You need to identify the core actions that will produce the result you’re after.

In most endeavors there are often many activities that help you accomplish your goal. However there are usually a few core activities that account for the majority of the results, and in some cases there are only one or two keystone actions that ultimately produce the result. It is critical that you identify these keystones and focus on them.

  1. Count the costs
    Identifying the costs before you commit allows you to consciously choose whether you are willing to pay the price of your commitment.
  2. Act on commitments, not feelings
    Learning to do the things you need to do, regardless of how you feel, is a core discipline for success.

Our commitments ultimately shape our lives. They support sound marriages, create lasting relationships, drive our results, and help build our character.

Greatness in the Moment

The current moment-the eternal right now-is all you have. Right now, you can affect what happens to you for the rest of your life. The future is created now, our dreams are achieved in the moment.

The difference between greatness and mediocrity on a daily and weekly basis is slim, yet the difference in results down the road is tremendous.

Intentional Imbalance

Life balance is not about equal time in each area; life balance is more about intentional imbalance.

The Execution System

8 fundamental elements to high performance in any endeavor:

  1. Vision
  2. Planning
  3. Process control
  4. Measurement
  5. Time use
  6. Accountability
  7. Commitment
  8. Greatness in the moment

3 principles that determine an individual’s effectiveness and success

  1. Accountability
  2. Commitment
  3. Greatness in the moment

5 execution disciplines:

  1. Vision
  2. Planning
  3. Process control
  4. Measurement
  5. Time use

Establish your Vision

The first step to creating breakthrough with the 12 week year is to craft a great vision for yourself.

The most powerful visions address and align your personal aspirations with your professional dreams.

3 time horizons to focus your vision on:

  1. long-term aspirations
  2. mid-term goals; ≈3 years
  3. 12 weeks

What is most important to you physically, spiritually, mentally, relationally, financially, professionally, and personally?
How much time freedom do you want?
What income do you desire?

Take the items from your page that you connect with emotionally and construct a vision for your life 5, 10, 15 years into the future.

What do you want to create over the next 3 years?

Questions That Uncover the Degree of Ownership:

  • Why are the elements of your vision important to you?
  • What will you be able to do if you reach your vision that you cannot do now?
  • What will be different for you, your family, your friends, your peers, your clients, your community, if you reach that goal?
  • Are you willing to commit to the actions needed to reach your vision?
  • Who have you shared your vision with?
  • How often have you looked at your vision since you wrote it?
  • What actions do you have to take to make progress on your vision and reach your 12 week goal?
  • What risks or barriers exist that may get in the way of you reaching your vision and goals?
  • How can I best support and help you achieve your goals and vision?

When creating the team vision, you will want to apply many of the same dynamics used in creating your personal visions.

  1. Start with the long-term by having everyone brainstorm what a great company or office would look like in the future.
  2. Get them to be as specific as possible and assign numeric values where applicable.
  3. Give everyone a chance to share their thoughts with the group, then narrow the horizon, look three years out, and work together to determine the specific elements that will stay part of the vision and those that won’t.

Common pitfalls and success tips

  1. Pitfall1: You don’t take the power of vision seriously.
  2. Pitfall2: The vision isn’t meaningful to you.
  3. Pitfall3: Your vision is too small.
  4. Pitfall4: You don’t connect your vision to your daily actions.
  5. Success Tip1 :Share it with others.
  6. Success Tip2: Stay in touch with your vision.
  7. Success Tip3: Live with intention.

Develop your 12 Week Plan

To increase your odds of success, one of the most powerful things you can do is to create, and work from, a written plan.

The value of each moment is brought into sharp focus when there are only 12 weeks in your entire year.

If your goal is not specific or measurable, the plan that you write will also be vague. The more specific and measurable your 12 week goals, the easier it will be to write a solid 12 week plan.

💡Many 12 week efforts are comprised of 2~3 goals.

5 criteria for writing goals and tactics:

  1. Make them specific and measurable.
  2. State them positively.
  3. Ensure they are a realistic stretch.
  4. Assign accountability.
  5. Be time-bound.

For each of your goals

  1. define the highest-priority daily and weekly actions that you must take to reach that goal.
  2. brainstorm on a separate sheet of paper all the things you could do and then select the ones that will have the greatest impact.
  3. for those actions you decide to implement write them as full sentences that start with a verb and describe the action that you intend to take.

If you take time to plan before engaging with a complex task, you reduce the overall time required to complete the task by as much as 20%.

A few things as a manager to help your team get on the 12 Week Year :

  1. Ask them to read The 12 Week Year, and have them work through the vision and planning templates.
  2. After they have created their vision and plan, schedule an individual sit-down with each person on your team to review their 12 week goals and plans. The purpose of this meeting is to refine their plan and to establish your role in helping them reach their 12 week goal.
  3. Start the conversation by focusing on their 12 week goals.
    Do they own the goal or are they just interested in it? Is the goal realistic and still a stretch for them? Do they believe that they can reach their goal?
  4. Once you have finished with the 12 week goal, shift to their tactical plan.
    Seek to keep their plans focused on just the fewest number of goals, and fewest number of tactics that are needed to reach each goal.

Joint goals and plans:

  1. Ask for participation input toward the overall goal for the next 12 weeks.
  2. Brainstorm the tactics needed to reach each goal; then, select the smallest possible number of the brainstormed tactics that, when executed, will attain the goal.
  3. It is important that each tactic be assigned to one individual even if several people will work on it.
  4. Individual accountability for tactics is critical to drive the team execution process.
  5. However, if one of the team tactics will be completed individually by multiple team members, you will be better served by assigning a subset of the team goal to each team member.

There are two last bits of advice when planning for teams:

  1. don’t overestimate the capacity of your team. The best team plans are succinct and contain the minimal amount of activity to reach the team goal—no more.
  2. don’t front-load the plan; instead, if possible, balance the actions over the entire 12 weeks.

Common pitfalls and success tips

  1. Pitfall1: Your 12 week plan does not align with your long-term vision.
  2. Pitfall2: You aren’t staying focused.
  3. Pitfall3: You don’t make the tough choices.
  4. Pitfall4: You don’t keep it simple.
  5. Pitfall5: You don’t make it meaningful.

Installing Process Control

Weekly plans is not something that you create each week based on what happens to be urgent at the time.
It is populated with tactics from the 12 week plan that are due that particular week.

Weekly Accountability Meeting(WAM) is not about trying to hold each other accountable, but rather fostering individual accountability to consistently execute your plan.

  1. Each individual gets a few minutes to report out to the group.
  2. Comment on your results to date. Are you on track, ahead of where you should be at this point, or behind?
  3. Tell the group your weekly execution score.
  4. Announce your intentions for this week as they relate to your execution.
  5. The group will challenge you, congratulate you, and provide feedback and suggestions.

Assign each staff member an area of interest, and create an action plan to grow in that area.

💡Your probability of success greatly increases when you meet regularly with a small group of peers.

Do they have a plan each week?
Are they scoring each week?
Are they actively participating in a WAM?

Common Pitfalls

  1. Pitfall1: You don’t plan each week.
  2. You include all your tasks.
  3. You assume that each week is the same.
  4. You add tactics weekly.
  5. You don’t use it to guide your day.
  6. You don’t make it part of your routine.

Keeping Score

In general, the more frequent a measure is, the more useful it is. For example, quarterly measures are typically better than annual.

We have found that if you execute a minimum of 85% of the actions due in your weekly plan each week, you are very likely to hit your goals at the end of the 12 weeks.

Common pitfalls and success tips

  1. Pitfall1: You think that measurement is complicated or unimportant.
  2. Pitfall2: You don’t schedule a block of time each week to assess your progress.
  3. Pitfall3: You abandon the system when you don’t score well.
  4. Tip1: Review your weekly score with a buddy or a small group of peers each week.
  5. Tip2: Commit to make progress each week.
  6. Tip3: Remember that a weekly score of less than 85% isn’t necessarily bad.
  7. Tip4: Don’t be afraid to confront what your numbers are telling you.

Take Back Control of your Day

Strategic Blocks: 3 hours in length and should be scheduled early in your week so that if one gets interrupted or cancelled, you have time to reschedule it.

Buffer Blocks: 3060 minutes in length, scheduled 12 times per day.

Breakout Blocks: 3 hours in length designed to prevent burnout and create more free time. Should be scheduled once a week.

Sample strategic blocks agenda:

  • reconnect with your vision
  • 12 week review
  • assess performance breakdowns
  • work on plan tactics
  • read a book
  • take an online course
  • tutorials

Sample buffer blocks agenda:

  • review and respond to email
  • listen to voicemail and respond as needed.
  • follow up on to-do list items.
  • take quick meetings
  • organize and file work in process and completed items.
  • identify any new to-do list items and record.

If you frequently defer the strategic work to accomplish the urgent, lower-value activities, you will never accomplish great things.

The future are you going to live is the one you are creating right now at this very moment.

Common pitfalls and success tips

  • Pitfall1: You conduct business as usual.
  • Pitfall2: You don’t focus on one thing at a time in your strategic blocks.
  • Pitfall3: You allow distractions to steal your attention.
  • Pitfall4: You think being busy is the same as being productive.
  • Tip1: Work from a written weekly plan.
  • Tip2: Input your model week into your calendar.

Taking Ownership

Accountability allows you to gain control of your life, to shape your destiny, and to fulfill your potential.
In its purest form, accountability is simply taking ownership of one’s actions and results.
The fact of the matter is that successful people are accountable.

Once we accept that our actions have an impact on the outcome then, and only then, are we truly empowered to create the results we desire.
When we acknowledge our accountability, our focus shifts from defending our actions to learning from them. Failures simply become feedback in the ongoing process of becoming excellent.

4 things to foster greater accountability:

  1. Resolve never to be the victim again.
  2. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
  3. Be willing to take different actions.
  4. Associate with to be “Accountable” person.

Accountability cannot be imposed, demanded, or coerced.

Create the space for your people to own it.

How to create accountability:

  • Become aware of victim conversations.
  • Model accountability.
  • Clarify expectations.
  • Learn from life.
  • Focus on the future.

Common pitfalls and success tips

  • Pitfall1: You continue to view accountability as consequences.
  • Pitfall2: You look outside yourself.
  • Tip1: Acknowledge reality.
  • Tip2: Focus on what you can control.

12 Week Commitments

Commitment: The state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to some course of action.

Commitment exercise:

  1. Determine a few goals that would represent a real breakthrough for you in one of the categories of spiritual, relationships, family, community, physical, personal, or business.
  2. Identify the keystone action that will have the biggest impact on reaching your goal.
  3. Determine the costs that you will have to pay to consistently take that action every week.
  4. Circle the keystone actions for which you are willing to pay the costs.
The process is more important than the result.

Common pitfall and success tips

  • Pitfall1: You miss a commitment and give up.
  • Pitfall2: You fail to confront missed commitments.
  • Pitfall3: You don’t value your word.
  • Tip1: Don’t overcommit.
  • Tip2: Go public with your commitments.
  • Tip3: Buddy up.

Your First 12 Weeks

One of the recommended actions is that you review your vision for at least a few minutes each day.

If you think that your plan to reach multiple goals actually is manageable, then you are more likely to execute it and planning becomes beneficial for multiple goals as well.

2 ways to “shrink” change:

  1. Limit the initial investment in time (e.g., spend five minutes cleaning).
  2. Set progress milestones that are quickly within reach (clean the small bathroom). By doing this, your thinking about the magnitude of your change shifts, and you can get “unstuck,” and begin to act.”

Your current actions are creating your current results.

As long as you see the solution to your greatness as being outside of you, you will remain powerless to change.

Personal accountability-ownership of your vision, goals, and plan-is the single most important thing you can do to become great.

Set your ego aside and acknowledge that someone else might know some things that you don’t, and they might be able to help you get better.

The key is to fully engage in the first 12 weeks.
You will need more intentionality regarding how you think and act each day and week.

  1. Set your long-term vision.
  2. Set a 12 week goal that represents progress toward your vision and that is a great result in and of itself.
  3. Build a 12 week plan to reach it.

Your first 12 week year is unique.
In fact, it’s helpful to frame it in 3~4 week periods.

Studies have shown that when you are introduced to a new concept or habit, the sooner and more often you act on it, the more likely it is that you will incorporate it into your daily routine.

The first 4 weeks are critical. These first weeks are all about getting a fast start toward your goal, and establishing the 12 week year as your execution system. In your first 4 weeks, use the weekly routine to establish some new habits. A good start makes the end goal more attainable.

Whether you are on track to hit your 12 week goal or not, by finishing strong you will create positive results and set yourself up for the next 12 week as well.

The 13th week is a chance to have an extra week of effort, if you need it to hit your goals.

One important thing that you can do is to recognize progress early and often. Do this both individually and with the team. Create a sense of progress and momentum each week and be sure to recognize process change. You don’t control the outcome; so focus on the process.

One of the qualities of a leader is that they are always striving to get better, and to help their team get better.