The Twelve Week Year
Everything big starts little.
One of our sales teams recently read the book “The Twelve Week Year” by Brian Moran as a team project for 2016. The concept behind the twelve week year is that in chunking down our year into four segments of twelve week each, we create expanded opportunities for success. When you think about it, this suggestion makes a ton of sense. The statistics for New Year’s resolutions that make it beyond January range around 10% which indicates that many people do not have the momentum to remain focused on what was important on January first. Also, when we know that we have until December 31st to reach a goal, we often put off activity on it until later in the year. Many sales teams see this happen as fourth quarter tends to be the stronger quarter for many organizations. Getting a jump start on goals that require accountability and measurement over a twelve week time frame leads to greater success with goal attainment.
Other authors have supported the concept of breaking goals down into manageable parts. Jack Canfield in “The Success Principles” advises us to break down our goals in order to avoid being overwhelmed by the expected outcomes. He shares that by using mind maps as well as connecting with other individuals who have accomplished what we are about to undertake we can build action steps that guide the process towards success. David Allen in “Getting Things Done” refers to this process as going from the ‘Big Picture” to the nitty-gritty. In getting to the nitty-gritty, we focus on behaviors and tools that allow us to accomplish tasks at the level that work really happens. If these two resources are not enough to convince you of the need to break your goals down, just search the internet on the topic-there are at least three pages of references on how to break your goals down!
Now that we know that we increase our odds of success when we break down our goals into smaller parts, let’s return to the twelve week year. Due to the limitations of space with this blog, I cannot cover all of the aspects of the twelve week year but will cover what are a few critical aspects to success. The authors review three principles which are the foundation for the process; accountability, commitment and greatness in the moment. For them, accountability means we have freedom of choice but once we make that choice we have an ownership to see it through. Commitment is the personal promise we make to ourselves once we have made the choice and from their perspective is accountability projected into the future. Greatness in the moment refers to the willingness to do the things that lead you into your greatest success-even when you may not want to.
Next, the authors share the five execution disciplines which are the foundations for consistent action. The first is vision. What is your vision for yourself? Do you have a clear picture of what you want to happen? Do your personal and business visions align? When we are able to align these two visions, it creates an emotional connection needed for sustainment of commitment and continual consistent action.
Once you have your vision in place, you begin to work on the plan. The purpose of an effective plan is to clarify and focus behaviors on highest priority initiatives and action steps. This plan becomes your road map to success. John Norcross in “Changeology” also advises that we need a plan prior to engaging in our goals. The author discussed the issue of resistance to planning which is fed by our drive to begin immediately on the goal relinquishing any roadmap to guide the process. One of the quickest ways to derail change efforts is to not have a plan for how one will reach success. It is only when we give structure to our goals by planning the steps to accomplish them do we increase the opportunities for success. Matthew Kelly in “The Rhythm of Life” includes the question “how am I going to get there” in his list of five questions that humanity has been asking consciously or unconsciously since the beginning of time which shows that we have understood the importance of planning for a really long time!
Planning is followed by process control which begins with the identification of tools and events that align daily actions with the most important actions for ultimate success. Ensuring that you focus your time on critical actions for success, these tools and events are essential to creating the outcomes you want. Tools and events are followed by measurement. Often we can identify goals and what actions steps we need in order to accomplish our goals yet we frequently forget how we are going to measure. What I like about the twelve week year process is that you evaluate yourself on a daily basis. Without a consistent process for checking in with ourselves, we may find that we return to our habits and forget our commitment to the new behaviors. The final discipline is the use of time. If we are not able to control our time, we will not be able to control our results. This can be a difficult discipline for some as it may mean saying no to some requests and people.
The twelve week year offers us an opportunity to view our goals and aspirations in such a way that they become manageable and ultimately achievable. The process also allows to think differently about how to approach our goals in a manner that supports and aligns with what matters most.
To Your Success!