Book Review: The 12 Week Year

How to Squeeze a Full Year out of 12 Weeks

What if you could get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months? 

This post is a book review of The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington. I can sum up the book with this quote from the author:

People say knowledge is power, but I disagree. Knowledge is only powerful if you use it. – Brian Moran

The 12 Week Year is a highly practical guide for taking you from thinking about the things you should be doing to push your business forward to actually doing those things. The book is complete with some mental and written exercises (FYI – you can get these exercises sent via email over a few weeks if you sign up for Moran’s free course).

I’m reading through this book for the second time. It’s challenged me tremendously, got my mental juices flowing, and the ideas hopping. Of course, that’s all worthless unless I actually execute on the ideas.

Below I’ll share some of the core points from the book that stood out to me as well as how I’m implementing them in my business. My hope is that you can

Getting More Down with the 12 Week Year

1. Set “pillar” goals

When I managed for Starbucks, we used the Covey time-management system and the principles there are similar to The 12 Week Year in terms of focusing on getting the right things done.

So, what are the right things? The book suggests you start with your long-term vision for your life. If that sounds overly grand to you, then boil it down to a few things you’d like to be true about your life in 10 years. That was an easier vision for me to manage.

I’ll share a few of mine with you:

  • Live an active/sporty lifestyle with my husband
  • Be debt-free
  • Have multiple revenue streams that generating consistent income and are not tied to my time

Yours will look different, but I find it helpful to see other people’s answers, so there’s mine. 🙂

2. Get rid of annualized thinking

Ditch the 12-month calendar (at least when it comes to your business) and strip it down to 12 weeks. Every month is condensed into a week and every week is boiled down to a day.

Imagine getting a week’s worth of progress made in one day. That doesn’t mean doing the same amount of activity in a single day – it means thinking critically about the tasks that are truly most important to your goals and spending time on those things.

So I defined my pillar, or long-term, goals already. What can I focus on in the next 12 weeks that are in service of those goals? The idea is to pick 2-3 core goals for each 12-week cycle that serve your larger vision.

You then plan the daily or weekly tasks that serve those 2-3 primary goals. If your daily activities aren’t supporting those goals, you’re doing the wrong thing.

If your daily activities don't support your core goals, you're doing the wrong thing. Share on X

Here’s an example of a weekly goal that supports my larger vision of generating passive income streams:

Finish writing my book, Real World Freelancing.

What are some activities that support that?

  • Blocking out 2 hours of uninterrupted writing time Monday-Friday
  • Research best practices for self-publication on Amazon
  • Identify editors and ask if they’re available/willing to help

In the spirit of honesty, my reality doesn’t look like getting a week of work done in one day, but holding up the tasks on my to-do list in light of my larger goals has definitely helped me prioritize what’s most important (and impactful). It’s narrowed my focus.

3. Don’t underestimate the importance of planning

It’s tempting to jump straight into action, but Moran stresses the importance of planning.

Planning is some of the most productive time you can have. Share on X

I use Monday mornings to check my previous week and make a plan for the week ahead. It’s this plan that makes sure I stay in alignment with my the goals I’ve said are important to me.

My plan includes:

  1. Three Goals
  2.  3-5 activities per goal (that support the goal)
  3. Due date (frequency of each activity)
  4. Score (a measurement of how well I executed on an activity)
  5. Lead indicators (these track progress toward the activity or goal. For instance, if my goal was to lose 10 lbs, then a lead indicator might be “I worked out 4 times this week”)
  6. Lag indicators (These are results. For example, I can fit into my skinny jeans)
The 12-Week Year sample plan

I created a spreadsheet that shows the makes it a little easier to visualize a sample 12 Week plan. You can view it here and are welcome to use it for yourself (just click File > Make a Copy from the Google Drive menu).

4. Keep score

I like SMART goals (Specific. Measurable. Actionable. Relevant. Time-sensitive.). One of the things I like about them is that they’re measurable. After all, if you can’t measure progress, how do you know how you’re doing?

I’m now on my 2nd 12-week cycle. The first time I didn’t keep score (I rejected its importance). This time I am. Why? The score lets me know what’s working and what’s not so that I can make adjustments along the way. It enables me to celebrate wins and confront areas where I’m falling short.

The scoring method used in the 12 Week Year is percentage-based. Did I only write 2 hours a day for 4 days this week? If so, then I get 80% out of 100%. Average the score across the activities relating to a single goal and you get your score.

What are you going to do with the knowledge?

The book has helped me focus more tightly and forced me to evaluate my progress toward goals more often. I’ve also joined a group of two others that I meet with weekly to discuss progress (Both Moran and I recommend going through a 12 week cycle with a small group).

If you struggle with planning and execution, I’d highly recommend grabbing a copy of the book*. If you’ve already read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Read The 12 Week Year after recommendation from @cdils. It’s the written version of a coaching session w/ @chrislema. Both highly suggested!

— Rebecca Gill (@rebeccagill) July 24, 2016

* That’s an affiliate link and if you use it I get rich. 😉

4 thoughts on “How to Squeeze a Full Year out of 12 Weeks”

  1. Pingback: My 12 Week Year Scorecard: Follow My Progress Live – Ramon Suarez

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