What if you showed up for your life every day at your full potential? What might be different? What could you achieve? What aspiration or dream is inside you just crying to get out into the world? What if everyone tapped into their soul’s desire and gave birth to their highest potential, to their unique offering to the world? What kinda awesome world would that be?! Why is that only some people reach true greatness while most people never really bring forth what they’re capable of?
The Twelve Week Year – an answer to these questions?
This here book is a game-changer. If you want to get shit done in life, turn dreams into reality and generally be the great person you’re capable of being then this is well worth a read. You can throw out your calendar, because thinking in terms of twelve-month-years is old hat. New Year’s resolutions are out the window too. Why wait until 1st January to powerfully align your vision and actions? There’s no time like the present, there is literally no time like the present.
The book provides a framework for how to get shit done. How to make shit happen (my paraphrasing).
I’ll summarise the five key components to this method:
You need a truly inspiring vision. Something that stretches you and is bigger than your current situation/capacity. It should genuinely light you up and have the power to keep you on track and propel you on your mission to greatness. This vision is your ‘big why’. Whatever it is you want to achieve make sure you’re super clear on why you want it. It sounds obvious but if you don’t have a compelling reason ‘why’ then when (not if but when!) resistance crops up you’re going to give up and return to familiar (and comfortable) old patterns.
You may be tempted to skip this whole visioning part as a load of woo woo but that would be a grave error. Without a compelling vision we are much more likely to choose comfortable old actions that give us short term benefits over the uncomfortable (i.e. new and unfamiliar) actions that are going to get us to the new place where our goal is hanging.
As an example, one of the commonest goals is to lose weight. If you haven’t gone through this first step of getting super clear on your why then you might be setting yourself this goal with a vague idea that it would be good to look like the beautiful-skinny-people-in-the-mags. That’s not a compelling why. Your spirit doesn’t give a hoot about the skinny-mag-people. It’s superficial. When the shit hits the fan you’re going to eat the cake. And the chocolate. And-fuck-it-the-days-a-writeoff-nowanyways-so-gimme-the-crisps-as-well. You need to dig deeper. If you’re carrying extra weight that would genuinely be best released why is that? What’s the benefit? Maybe you would feel lighter and have more energy to play with your kids? Suddenly the stakes are a lot higher. If you don’t hit your goal (of taking care of yourself properly and releasing excess weight) you’re not going to have the sort of energy you aspire to have for your kids. That’s a powerful incentive to keep you on track
Your vision has to be compelling enough that you want it more than your current comfort.
Planning ‘a vision without a plan is a pipedream’
I loves me a good plan. This is where the stationary and fancy diaries come in, more on those later.
The vision is awesome but ‘the physical universe will not respond to your desires, no matter how passionate or intense they are. The one thing that moves the universe is action.’
If you want to make shit happen you need a plan of action. Once you have a compelling vision you need to break this down into executable actions. What are the key actions that will take you a step closer to your goal? What are the habits? What would the person who can achieve your goals be doing on a daily and weekly basis? Make these specific and measurable and schedule these into the diary. What gets scheduled gets done!
As a personal example, I’ve dabbled with blogging in the past, in one Gregorian calendar year or another. It was an idea I had of something i’d like to do but it just never really materialised. I was waiting for inspiration, motivation or a complete blog to just land in my head fully formed. I also had all sorts of blocks around not knowing how to write and not enjoying writing, not having any ideas blah blah….
When I sat down to set my goals for my first 12 week year my main goal was to have a website with a weekly blog. What are the critical actions needed to write a weekly blog? Err…writing on a weekly basis. It ain’t rocket science, really. What are some non-critical actions that won’t contribute to this goal? Checking Facebook, responding to emails, watching netflicks, making another cuppa tea…
I committed to siting down for 2 hours after breakfast on Sundays to write. The beauty of this approach is that for something that really sets you up for results the focus isn’t on the results themselves. We have little control over the actual results we get, but we do have control over out actions. So all we need to do is focus on doing the actions that will most likely contribute to the results we want. With that in mind I haven’t specific ‘write an awesome blog every Sunday’. I haven’t even specific write a blog every Sunday. I’ve simply committed to sitting down and writing for 2 hours.
Structural and environmental support will give you the extra oomph needed to achieve excellent results. Will power and motivation are in short supply and won’t power you through the consistent effort needed to see really awesome results.
Get yourself a planner where you can write out your goals and your actions for the week. Schedule these in and tick them off as you go. I’ve discovered this Self Journal which is awesome and appears to have been designed with this book in mind. It’s a 13 week planner with loads of space for each day (2 whole pages per day) which really reflects how important a single day is in this new 2 week year. You can write down exactly what you need to do and tick it off as you go along. There are weekly reviews built in so you can celebrate the wins from each week and reflect on areas for improvement and refinement for subsequent weeks. This book states that ‘you are 60 to 80 percent more likely to execute a written weekly plan than a plan that is in your head.’ So write it down somewhere!
strategic blocks/buffer blocks
Another shocking statistic – you are 70% more likely to reach your goals if you’re in a group of people aiming for the same thing. Don’t go it alone, get some peeps, some accountability partners to check in with and keep each other honest.
measurement – confront the truth
Score yourself on a weekly basis. Look at the actions that you’ve decided you need to take on a weekly basis to hit your 12 week goal and rate yourself based on how many of these you actually achieved this week.
If you’re hitting 80% of the actions you’re well on your way to hitting your goal. Recognising mini-achievements on the road to success adds to our motivation and builds confidence that we’re making progress.
If you’re not hitting 80% of the actions then you’re probably not on track for success. This cold-harsh fact can be tough to swallow but this is crucial information. If we don’t face reality we can’t expect to change it. identify what’s not working so well and take appropriate action the following week to get your score moving in the right direction.
Time is such a precious resource. We don’t all have a fortune to invest in ourselves but we each have the same 24 hours in a day. Just like money we have the choice to either invest our time or squander it.
Spending our time with intention is the key to making shit happen. Don’t waste time on irrelevant stuff, be purposeful about how and where you spend your time and energy. Keep coming back to your vision and asking yourself, is this taking me closer to my vision?
The benefit of a 12 week year is that in creates a heightened sense of urgency. A week is now the equivalent of a month and a day is a week. Every day counts. And so it should. Today is a microcosm of our life. Our relationship to today is our relationship to our life. If we’re not paying attention and making today count we’re not paying attention or making our life count!
Schedule in the important actions you need to get done in a week. Block off ‘strategic blocks’ in your diary for the important ‘turning-dreams—into-reality stuff. Also schedule in ‘buffer blocks’ for low-level activity like checking email, social media etc. I’ve grouped all my email and social media into one half hour window per day. What doesn’t get done in that time isn’t important enough. This system keeps you focused and attuned to your overarching vision and anything that’s not critical gets sidelined, as it should.