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Ever heard of the 12-week year?
If you’re still looking for that perfect system to help you reach your goals, then you might want to check this idea out.
You may have already tried several productivity and goal-setting strategies, and yet still find yourself behind on your personal or professional targets. Perhaps doubt has set in, and you’ve begun to think that:
The good news is that you are actually on the right track by adopting a system for goal-setting. You’re already well on your way to success.
We’ve discovered that the 12-week year (12WY) system debunks the belief that reaching your goals requires toil, sacrifice, and an indefinite amount of time.
(Side note: Want to level up your productivity and time management skills? Then watch this free video about the 9 productivity habits you can build at work.)
What You Will Learn
What Is the 12WY?
Are you still working to fulfill your New Year’s resolutions? If you have given up on them, don’t worry—you are not alone. Many people give up working on their New Year’s goals halfway through the year.
The reason, according to Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington (authors of the book The 12-Week Year), is that 12 months is way too long to do something. Here’s the authors’ explanation from the book:
“The farther you plan into the future, the less predictability you have. With long-term plans, assumptions are stacked upon earlier assumptions, which are stacked upon even earlier assumptions. The reality is that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to determine what your daily actions should be 11 or 12 months into the future.”
Moran and Lennington’s system changes your concept about timeframes. Instead of measuring goals from an annual viewpoint, you track them in 12-week periods.
Since three months isn’t too far in the future, you can work to determine the course of your daily actions. Doing so makes it possible to achieve more in less time and with less effort.
How Do I Get Started?
The following steps help you get started on the 12WY system:
Step 1: Set your vision. What do you want to achieve in the next three years? What is the ideal life for you? Focus on one to three goals to achieve better results.
Step 2: Make a plan. Determine the actions and strategies you need to make in order to move closer to accomplishing your goals.
Step 3: Develop habits that help you execute your strategies on a regular basis.
Step 4: Track your progress. If you have a way of measuring your progress, you can better stay on track and get things done.
Step 5: Take ownership. On the 12-week year system, you are accountable for reaching your objectives.
In this post, you’ll find seven downloadable templates that you need in order to use the 12 WY system as your goal-setting tool. These different templates show you how others are using the 12-week year system in actual goal-setting.
1. Achieve! Worksheet
As the first step in the 12 WY system, identifying your goals requires you to focus on what you envision your life to be in the next three years. It’s important to make sure that your goals are SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
This template features the first step in the 12 WY goal-setting system. It is comprised of a set of questions to clarify the goals you want to achieve.
Moran and Lennington recommend that you do some serious thinking about each thing that you want to achieve in life. It is important, according to them, to write down your thoughts and ideas when you’re brainstorming your goals.
There are no limits to the goals that you set. These goals can be related to your career, personal development, relationships, finances, etc.
2. Focus Planning Tool
This template helps you accomplish your high-value goals. It looks complicated at first, but Adriana, its creator, assures everyone that the system is actually very simple to use and really helps get things done at the right time.
As mentioned earlier, it is important to make your objectives SMART. Then you need to identify the factors that are essential to the success of your objectives or goals.
The “lead measures” are the actions you need to track or develop to arrive at your objectives. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, a couple of leads could be diet and exercise. This template has provisions for tracking your lead measurements every week to see how you’re moving closer to your goal.
3. Weekly Plan Vision
via Tara Claeys
This example of a vision for doing the 12 WY features both short- and long-term goals covering career, relationships, personal development, and health.
When you’re doing your vision, it’s a good idea to set aside some quiet time in order to reflect deeply on the things that matter most to you. Think about the things you want for your life in the next three years.
Will you be enjoying life more deeply?
Are you going to be more connected with the special people in your life?
Can you see yourself improving in terms of knowledge and skills?
Will you be holding a position of responsibility in your workplace?
Envision what you will be doing, and write down your impressions of this future. These thoughts will be your reference when you create the goals for your 12 WY.
4. Weekly Scorecard
via Asian Efficiency
In the 12-week year system, the weekly scorecard is a way of monitoring if you’re still on track, or if you’ve fallen behind in working toward your goals.
Unlike other goal-monitoring systems that require at least an hour of weekly check-in time to track your progress, in the 12 WY, you need to commit just 30 minutes each week to review whether you’ve managed to hit your targets or need to do better moving forward.
Having this type of scoring system allows you to tweak your plan for the coming week. This allows you to be consistently on top of stuff you need to do, troubleshooting for potential pitfalls in your goal-setting.
5. Weekly Road Map
via Carrie Dils
Here is another example of how to set up weekly goals in the 12 WY system. This template incorporates the overall score into the weekly plan, making it easy to get an overview of how you did that week.
In addition to “lead,” another term you will encounter when working with this goal-setting tool is “lag.” A lag is an indicator that you’re on the right track. These are the results of the actions you take towards your objective.
In the above example, with weight loss as the main objective, one lag indicator could be fitting into a pair of old jeans again.
6. Goal Tracking
This template was created in Airtable, and its creator used it to get a summary of how well he achieved his objectives every week.
By entering his data through an Airtable spreadsheet, he was able to create graphs of his progress and see where he was on track and where he needed to step up his efforts to reach his goals.
With the 12 WY system, you can use any habit-tracking app to prompt you into doing your leads. If you need some advice on the best habit-tracking app to suit your needs, check out this post that features 15 of the best habit-tracking apps to help you stick to your goals.
7. Achieve! Routine
Perhaps you’ve heard of the saying “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This applies to the accountability aspect of 12 WY.
The 12-week year utilizes an element that’s critical to your success. Known as the Weekly Accountability Meeting, or WAM, this element enlists the help of other individuals to keep tabs on how you’re doing in meeting your goals.
Working with an accountability partner provides benefits that you miss out on when merely using an app. According to the 12 WY guide, a WAM is composed of individuals who commit to “support, challenge, and encourage one another.”
The template above helps you identify individuals to include in your WAM, provides the Agenda for a WAM, and shows you how to measure your most effective lead indicator for the week.
Are You Ready?
If you’re planning to implement the 12-week year, here are some things you need to keep in mind:
If you’re interested in learning more about goal-setting, you might want to check out this post on using a vision board to achieve your important goals.
Finally, if you want to level up your productivity and time management skills, then watch this free video about the 9 productivity habits you can build at work.