Have you heard of the book ‘The 12 Week Year’?
Oh wow! It’s so good!
But, why is the ’12 Week Year’ so good?
Well, you know when you have all these goals and ideas and need to get them in order, make them happen?
Your calendar is rolling around like a drunken sailor in a brothel with a credit card.
Your head is about to burst with possibility and inspiration.
And deep down inside you know you are going to struggle to make any other happen, even though you know it could.
Make it happen that is what the 12 Week Year helps you do.
In the ongoing spirit of ‘they ask you answer’ on this website, I’m going to take you a breakdown of how the ’12 Week Year’ book has worked for me, and I’m sure you’ll pick up something to get you going.
Sidenote: we’re reading this book in our ‘StoryBrand Guides’ book club and slack channel this month, so I suddenly see to a whole new range of in-person examples and applications.
What you won’t find in the ’12 Week Year’ book.
It is not a magic pill, silver bullet, app to save your life, productivity booster or lottery win.
It is so dull that you may want to set fire to your chair, so have something talk about at parties.
Very soon you’ll be in a routine and life will be working, how cool is that?
What is this 12 Week thing all about?
Michael and Brian the authors advocate organising and thinking about your year in twelve-week chunks.
Meaning that you set goals in chunks of twelve weeks, one quarter or ninety days – however, you like to think about it.
They go against ‘annualised’ planning, where businesses set goals for the year, particularly sales and business growth goals.
If you have ever worked in a company and have a sales goal to meet, it is incredible how you get it all done in the last week.
It is like you never left university where you’d have six months to a year to produce a dissertation and do nothing for months.
When you could see the deadline coming, you’d pull out all the stops to get the research done, and the paper written.
Michael and Brian make a strong case for planning in twelve-week chunks, so you are finishing hardcore goals every twelve weeks.
It goes way deeper than dividing the whole year into four segments and kicking into cruise control.
I’ve been studying and putting the ’12 Week Year’ book since June 2016 when I heard writer Pamela Wilson started to talk about it on Copyblogger.com.
Pamela then applied ’12 Week Year’ to her book launch podcast with Jeff Goins called Zero to Book.
The goal was for her to write her book in ’12 Weeks’ – the end product was Master Content Marketing, one of the clearest, practical and down to earth books on the topic.
In 2018 the ’12 Week Year Field Guide’ arrived and I got into that too, while the £20 price for a book you write in might seem a bit steep it is a fantastic deal for getting your life on track.
Being able to leap ahead to write down answers questions like, ‘What is your intent for the next week?’ And filling in the blanks to clarify your visions for everything from six months to five years head is priceless.
If you are part of the 90 Day Challenge with the Make Your Mark Community you’ll know what I mean.
My 90 Day workbook is £20 and sits on my desk, keeping me thinking about what to write and when.
These workbooks are something you can take somewhere, like a cafe or a train and ONLY do that.
How does the 12 Week Year Book Work?
You write down some stuff you like to happen.
Mark a time in your calendar to do that stuff.
When that time comes to do what you said you were going to do, you do it.
But there is so much more to it, here are the profound changes, insights and events I’ve had so far.
1. Stated intention vs actual intention
At the beginning of the book, Michael and Brian point out that nothing in here is new, the edge is that very few people do as much as they can.
So when I read the part about stated intention verse actual intention, I agreed and did nothing.
It took me about a year to realise how out of wack my ‘stated intention’ was with my ‘actual intention’.
It was the equivalent of declaring ‘I want to and I’m going to lose weight and get healthy!’
Sadly when we look at your shopping basket, it has chocolate, pizza and ice cream in it, but the coke is diet! No diet coke is still shit.
If your actual intention is to lose weight, you’d have a shopping trolley packed with fruit, veg and healthy protein.
I know, but.
No buts, and no I know buts! Ruthless as it sounds you are either doing it or not.
It took me a while to work it out, I want to do a lot of things, but I have to work out precisely what I’m doing, and why.
2. Are your daily actions in line with your vision?
A lot of what I was doing back in 2016 was ‘getting by’ rather than ‘building towards’.
As a result of an early reading of the ’12 Week Year,’ I doubled down on becoming the best copywriter the world had ever known.
Well, that did not go well!
I LOVE writing, and I’m forever working at it, I write every day and read about writing every week.
BUT I am crap at getting other peoples ideas and requirements onto a page and onto their website, this is a whole range of reasons from my skill level to doing things my way.
What came from my painful career pursuit being able to teach other people to get ideas out of their head and onto their website.
People are so scared of writing words and hitting publish, especially in a business and sales context and I completely empathise with this, so I very quickly worked out how to guide people through this process to publish every week.
Are the actions and tasks you do on day by day basis adding or taking away from where you want to be five years from now?
If you don’t know where you’d like to start to think about it, no one knows where they’ll be or what will happen, but acting with an intention is what you are after here.
3 Tracking and accountability over time is gold
Ok, so one of the most unattractive parts of this book of me was a requirement to track.
Every week you need to track what happened, or what did not happen.
When I got more serious about tracking, I began to see where the pattern for a successful week lay.
How come I planned and did not do what I said I’d do?
Where did all that time go?
What is wrong with me?
I am still working this out, but as I grew to understand this part, I had a cosmic breakthrough on how to get more of what I wanted in my life.
Let me break that down for you.
There are many elements. I am looking to have present in my life and finding the combination to get them all in is tight, like a total head fucks tight.
Tracking showed that the weeks when I went running I got more done, fantastic.
When I let my health score drop everything else dropped, then I’d quickly slip down mentally and feel like a loser.
Running, as painfull and unattractive as it is, gets my head in a significantly better place.
I get to run, read, be out in the park and have time on my own, this all works for me, better than a day in front of Netflix.