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The 12 Week Year

Book notes for “The 12 Week Year”, Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months by Brian P. Moran, Michael Lennington

Last annotated on December 29, 2016

Execution is the single greatest market differentiator. Great companies and successful individuals execute better than their competition. The barrier standing between you and the life you are capable of living is a lack of consistent execution. Effective execution will set you free. It is the path to accomplish the things you desire. loc 248

Most of them believed, either consciously or unconsciously, that their success and failure was determined by what they had achieved over the course of a year. They set annual goals, created annual plans, and in many cases broke the goals down into quarterly, monthly, and sometimes even weekly plans. But in the end, they evaluated their success annually. The trap is what we call annualized thinking. loc 320

In our experience, the number-one thing that you will have to sacrifice to be great, to achieve what you are capable of, and to execute your plans, is your comfort. The secret to living your life to its potential is to value the important stuff above your own comfort. loc 455

With a 12 week plan, predictability is much greater. You can define, with a high degree of certainty, what actions you need to implement each week over the next 12 weeks. Twelve week plans are both numbers- and activity-based. They create a strong connection between the actions you take today and the results you want to achieve. loc 563

With the 12 Week Year, the approach is to be great at a few things instead of mediocre at many things. In 12 week planning, you identify the top one to three things that will have the greatest impact, and pursue those with intensity. loc 570

The 12 week plan is structured so that if the tactics are completed on a timely basis the goals are achieved. loc 589

In the end, you have greater control over your actions than you do your results. loc 604

If you want to know what your future holds, look to your actions; they are the best predictor of your future. You want to predict your future health, look at your current eating and exercise habits. You want to predict the health of your marriage, look at your interactions with your spouse. You want to predict your career path and future income, look at the actions you take each business day. loc 619

To use your weekly plan effectively, you will need to spend the first 15 or 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 spent reviewing your weekly plan to plan that day’s activities. loc 636

If you’ve scheduled a tactic to be completed that day, don’t go home until it is done. This ensures that the critically important tasks, your plan tactics, are completed each week. loc 647

you started with a vision, a compelling vision of the future that is bigger than the present. Then you established a set of 12 week goals that are aligned with that vision. For each goal, you developed actions or tactics that describe the steps that you must take to achieve your goals. The element you have the most direct control over is the execution of your tactics. Knowing to what degree you followed through on those tactics is the execution measure. Because your 12 week goals were established in light of your longer-term vision, the execution measure also represents progress toward your vision. loc 688

Unlike results, which can lag weeks, months, and in some cases years behind your actions, an execution measure provides more immediate feedback, which allows you to make game-time adjustments much faster. loc 693

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, loc 801

Many times commitments are made more arduous by the time frame for which they are made. It is difficult to commit to anything for a lifetime—even keeping a promise for an entire year can be challenging. With the 12 Week Year you are not asked to make lifetime or even annual commitments, but rather 12 week commitments. It is much more feasible to establish and keep a commitment for 12 weeks than to keep it for 12 months. At the end of the 12 weeks, you reassess your commitments and begin again. loc 919

The 12 Week Year builds on a foundation of three principles that in the end determine an individual’s effectiveness and success. These principles are: 1. Accountability 2. Commitment 3. Greatness in the Moment loc 1065

Accountability is ultimately ownership. It is a character trait, a life stance, a willingness to own actions and results, regardless of the circumstances. The very nature of accountability rests on the understanding that each and every one of us has freedom of choice. It is this freedom of choice that is the foundation of accountability. The ultimate aim of accountability is to continually ask one’s self, “What more can I do to get the result?” loc 1070

These five disciplines are: 1. Vision 2. Planning 3. Process Control 4. Measurement 5. Time Use loc 1088

Your vision should be big enough that it makes you feel at least a little bit uncomfortable. loc 1234

Stay in touch with your vision. Print it out and keep it with you. Review it each morning and update it every time that you discover ways to make it more vivid and meaningful to you. Success Tip 3: Live with intention. At the end of each day, take a few minutes to reflect on the progress that you made today. Did it move you forward, or was it filled with activity that wasn’t related to your vision? Resolve to be intentional in your actions to make progress on your vision. What action will you take tomorrow? loc 1360

In 12 weeks, you only focus on the minimum number of actions that are most important to hit your goal. You also benefit from 12 week planning because of the short time horizon. Uncertainty is reduced due to the shortened time frame, and as a result you can plan effectively at the action level. loc 1409

If you can accomplish the goal without doing anything differently, then you probably need to stretch more. If it is absolutely impossible, then factor it back a little. loc 1477

Keep in mind that the weekly plan is a derivative of your 12 week plan. It is not something that you create each week based on what happens to be urgent at the time. On the contrary, the weekly plan is populated with the tactics from the 12 week plan that are due that particular week. loc 1656

There was a fascinating article in Fast Company in May 2005, entitled “Change or Die,” that presented studies conducted with patients who had severe medical conditions that required lifestyle changes in order to live. The sad fact was that after only 12 months, 90 percent of the patients had reverted back to their old lifestyles, virtually guaranteeing an impending death. Faced with the imminent threat of death, an overwhelming majority of people still failed to consistently make more productive choices. There was a group that had a much higher success rate—almost seven times greater. These patients were involved in peer support sessions, and they had a success rate of nearly 80 percent. The groups not involved in peer support had a 10 percent success rate. loc 1670

To be great you will need to live with intention. That will require you to be clear on what matters most, and then to have the courage to say no to things that distract you. loc 2016