Get More Done in 12 Weeks than You Would in 12 Months

Originally published: 04.01.13 by Brian Moran


Shorter-term planning and execution will yield greater success.

In an effort to improve, most companies and professionals will search for new ideas and strategies. They will seek out new marketing techniques, sales ideas, cost-cutting measures, and customer service enhancements in the hopes that these new approaches will deliver better results. 

The No. 1 factor holding individuals and entire companies back from achieving what they are truly capable of is not a lack of knowledge, intellect, or information. It’s not some new strategy or idea. It’s not additional training. It’s not a larger network. It’s not hard work, natural talent, or luck. Of course all these things help and play a factor, but they are not the things that make the difference. 

Execution is the single greatest market-differentiator. Great companies and successful individuals execute better than their competition. So the barrier standing between you and the life you are capable of living is a lack of consistent execution. 

One of the things that gets in the way of individuals and organizations effectively executing and achieving their best is the annual planning process. As strange as this might sound, annual goals and plans are often a barrier to high performance. This doesn’t mean annual goals and plans don’t have a positive impact. They do. There is no question you will do better with annual goals and plans than without any goals or plans. However, this annual process inherently limits performance.

The trap is referred to as “annualized thinking.” At the heart of annualized thinking is an unspoken belief that there is plenty of time in the year to make things happen. In January, December looks a long way off. We mistakenly believe that there is plenty of time in the year, and we act accordingly. We lack a sense of urgency, not realizing that every week is important, every day is important, every moment is important. Ultimately, effective execution happens daily and weekly — not annually. 

Let’s redefine a year: A year is no longer 12 months; it is now 12 weeks. There are no longer four periods in a year; that’s old thinking. Each 12-week period stands on its own — it is your year.

Now you have a new end-game date to assess your success (or lack thereof). It narrows your focus to the week and more to the point, the day, which is where execution occurs. The 12-week year brings that reality front and center. When you set your goals in the context of a 12-week year, you no longer have the luxury of putting off the critical activities, thinking to yourself that there is plenty of time left in the year. Once 12 weeks becomes your year, then each week matters more; each day matters more; each moment matters more.

The result is profound. Most people who use this method experience about a 30% improvement in the first 12 weeks. Here are three steps to help you achieve more in the next 12 weeks than most will in 12 months:

Set a 12-Week Goal: 

Annual goals are helpful, but they lack immediacy and urgency. Twelve-week goals create focus and urgency.

Get focused on what you want to make happen over the next 12 weeks. The goal should be an outcome: income, sales production, dollars saved, pounds lost; and it should represent significant progress towards your longer-term vision. Limit your goals to a maximum of three and make certain each goal is specific and measurable.

Build a 12-Week Plan: 

Twelve-week planning is so much more effective than traditional planning because it is more predictable and focused. The key here is less is more. A 12-week plan embraces the notion of being great at a few things versus mediocre at many.

For each goal, you will need to identify tactics. Tactics are the daily and weekly actions that drive the accomplishment of the goal. If the goal is the “where,” then the tactics are the “how.” Here again, less is more. Keep it focused on the critical few. Identify the four or five actions that you need to take daily and weekly to accomplish your goal, those are your tactics.

Apply the Weekly Routine: 

Having a goal and a plan is helpful, but it’s not enough. The key to your success is executing your plan. To ensure you execute at a high level, adopt the Weekly Routine. If you do the following three things on a weekly basis you can’t help but get better.

The Weekly Routine:

Plan your week — Take a few minutes at the beginning of each week to plan your week. Use your plan to identify the tactics that are due this particular week. The plan is not a glorified to-do list; rather, it reflects the critical strategic activity that needs to take place this week in order to achieve your 12-week goals.

Score your week — At the end of each week you will want to score your execution. In the end you have greater control over your actions than you do your outcomes. The most effective lead indicator you have is a measure of your execution. You are scoring your execution, not your results. Calculate a weekly execution score by dividing the number of tactics completed by the number due.

Meet with a peer group – Did you know that you are seven times more likely to be successful if you meet regularly with a group of your peers? Find two to three other people who are committed and willing to meet for 15 to 20 minutes each week. In your meeting, report on how you’re doing against your goals and how well you’re executing. Encourage and challenge one another.

 That’s it: Three simple steps. Plan your week, score your week, meet with a group of peers. Do them, and you will improve. Here’s the catch: The steps are easy to do, and even easier not to do. So make a commitment to engage with them for the next 12 weeks and watch what happens.  ν 

Brian Moran, President and Founder of Strategic Breakthroughs, has more than 30 years of expertise as an executive, coach, and consultant. His new book, “The 12 Week Year” is a powerful guide to creating results To learn more about Brian Moran, please visit www.BrianPMoran.com.


Articles by Brian Moran

Get More Done in 12 Weeks than You Would in 12 Months

In an effort to improve, most companies and professionals will search for new ideas and strategies. They will seek out new marketing techniques, sales ideas, cost-cutting measures, and customer service enhancements in the hopes that these new approaches will deliver better results.
View article.