This is the Review of the book “The 12 Week Year” by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington

Have you ever created New Year resolutions/annual goals? You swear that you are going to lose weight, release a book, blog regularly, do more voluntary work, spend more time with family and so on… I openly admit that I am one such person. Over the past few years, I have tried various productivity hacks to make me reach my annual goals but this book gives a different take on setting goals and accomplishing them. Instead of setting annual goals, the authors talk about setting “12 Week goals”.  This is kind of similar to the concept I have been trying to follow i.e “Batching” my goals over several months and keep working on them.

The book gives practical examples and templates to set 12 Week goals. It also discusses various success stories of actual people following it and accomplishing their goals. These are my takeaways from this book-

  • Share your vision. It is easier to accomplish your goals when you set and share the vision with people. This is especially true in teams where we have a leader and he is rallying the troops to accomplish different tasks. Having a vision in these situations helps the team to remind themselves of what is the final goal and whether we are doing the right things based on the vision statement. This could be an individual or team vision.
  • Have processes in place to make you work when you don’t want to.  I have been in these situations several times where, I would want to workout in the morning but too lazy to wake up, want to work on my blog post but not getting the motivation to do it, want to work on a new Youtube video but get hungry (Yup, it happens to me on a regular basis). During these times, it helps to have something that motivates you to keep you focused on high priority goals every single day. One way I do this in my life is, I have printouts of inspirational quotes throughout my house and work area, when I face situations like this. Some of the quotes from my collection are-
    • It is not who you are underneath it is what you do that defines you
    • Tough times don’t last tough people do
    • Courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it
    • Rules are for the obedient of fools and the guidance of wise men
    • Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence
    • When life gives you mountains put those hiking shoes on and start walking
    • Life is just like toilet paper. You’re either on a roll, or you’re taking crap from some asshole.
    • Do not keep one leg in the PAST, one leg in the FUTURE and Pee on the PRESENT
    • You don’t have to be great to start but you have to start to be great
    • Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength

Something like this could help you out as well.

  • Score and Plan your week. You form a template with your goal, identify task/tactics to achieve that goal and score them each week. E.g- Check out the below template of a vision statement, goal and task breakdown taken from the book

The above picture shows how you set a vision statement, goals, identify tasks related to that goal, then score them.  The way we score is, say your goal is to lose 10 lbs (see above pic) and you have accomplished 4 out of 5 tasks for that week, then your score is 80% (4/5 * 100). The general goal is to have above 75% score each week.

  • Have Weekly Accountability Meetings. Once you share your vision with someone or a team, we need to keep ourselves accountable to different tasks identified based on the vision. We can identify trusted individuals who give valuable feedback on your work and have weekly meetings with them. You will update them on your progress and vice-versa (it could work both ways). The same is true in a team setting, where there is a manager/colleague who can help out out on a weekly basis. These are very similar to daily stand up meetings but the only difference is, this happens once a week instead of daily
  • Every week take 15 minutes to plan out your week and it should have 3 types of blocks when planning your tasks
    • Strategic blocks – You schedule a 3 hour uninterrupted block of time where you work on the different high priority tasks identified for the week. You do this once a week. This concept is very similar to the deep work blocks described in my Deep Work post
    • Buffer blocks – You schedule 1 hour blocks, one or two times a day. In this block, you do activities such as Follow-ups, e-mail communications, phone calls, meetings etc which are lower in priority and does not need deep focused work
    • Breakout blocks – You schedule a 3 hour block, once a week. This is to completely unwind from your busy week and do something totally unrelated to your tasks to relax your mind and body. It could be exercising, reading, listening to podcasts and may also be watching TV shows (I personally feel watching TV makes me more tired)

You can use the below template taken from the book to schedule your time blocks

  • A really powerful and inspiring sentence in this book that is worth mentioning here is “If you want different results, you need to be willing to do things differently and do different things”. This gave me goosebumps, as it is so true

Overall I found this book really interesting as it has a different take on goal setting and execution. This goes against conventional wisdom of setting annual goals.

If you have tried similar kind of things for goal setting and execution or have some other similar techniques/approaches, please feel free to share them as comments here or you can contact me at –

For the experiments I have started doing, check out this post –


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