The 12 Week Year is a refresh button for your brain.
A typical year for many of us goes like this:
- Dream up big goals/resolutions.
- Start strong in January
- Fall of course after January
- Fail at big goals/resolutions by end of year.
What’s worse is we typically just start the same terrible cycle the next year, promising ourselves “it will really be different this time.”
Unfortunately it never is.
Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington, authors of The 12 Week Year, tell us this is because a year is way too long of a timeframe to get anything done.
Wait, that sounds counterintuitive. Too long to get something done? Isn’t it normally the opposite?
Moran and Lennington argue that if we look at smaller time frames for goals, we will be achieve better levels of efficiency and productivity.
We’ll take a look at anything that promises higher levels of productivity, so luckily we’ve already done the hard work for you.
You can check out our comprehensive 12 Week Year guide, or follow along how we made our own simple 12 Week Year template below.
12 Week Year Template Building Blocks
The first step in planning your 12 Week Year template is compiling all the information.
The information comes directly from yours truly.
12 Week Year Template Goals
First stop, dream up some big picture goals.
The 12 Week Year book recommends spending some time brainstorming every single thing you want or see yourself having out of life and writing it down. This could take more of a personal, professional, or combination approach depending on what you want.
We did a mix since a lot of personal and professional goals overlap anyway.
Once you have some big picture goals, start categorizing them.
- What could you accomplish in 10 years?
- What could you accomplish in 5 years?
- What could you accomplish in 2 years?
- What could you accomplish in 12 weeks?
Make sure to connect the dots too.
For example, if you have a goal you could accomplish in 10 years, what are smaller goals or projects that need to happen to get there?
Once you’ve broken down the big picture destination into smaller, bite sized trips, you should some ideas for your 12 Week Year template goals.
Your 12 Week Year template goals are the specific items you will work towards over a period of 12 weeks.
You could choose anywhere from one to three goals, depending on what you pick.
12 Week Year Leading Indicators
Once you have your goals, you have to think about how exactly you will get there.
The 12 Week Year authors point out that often even though we do a lot of activities or tasks, only a few of them can account for the largest amount of impact.
They suggest getting rid of the activities that make a small impact, and pouring all of your efforts into the ones that make the larger impact.
The tasks that you identify as having the largest impact on whether or not you meet your goal are your leading indicators.
Whether or not you complete these activities will be the biggest sign of whether or not you will meet your goals.
You should identify several key leading indicators for each goal.
For example, if weight loss was a goal, following a specific diet or caloric intake on a daily basis may be a leading indicator.
Another example of a professionally oriented goal may be to hit a certain amount of sales volume. If this were the case, you may have a leading indicator of making a designated amount of cold calls per day, or per week.
Identify which leading indicators make the most sense for your goals.
Remember, don’t choose something just to choose something. Only select indicators that will truly have an impact on your 12 Week Year template goals.
12 Week Year Template Lagging Indicators
On the flip side, your 12 Week Year template lagging indicators are how you will measure success.
Of course at the end of the 12 weeks you will know whether or not you meet the goal, but you need something to track impact along the way as well.
Using the same examples from above, your lagging indicator for the weight loss goal might be your weight, or perhaps your body fat percentage.
For the sales volume goal, your lagging indicator would probably be volume of closed sales.
Again, your lagging indicators are how you’ll measure overall progress throughout your 12 Week Year journey.
12 Week Year Template Sacrifices
If you’re anything like me, you’ve thought up some amazing goals, but are also thinking about how busy you are already.
So what’s going to give?
I think an important part of the 12 Week Year is realizing you have to give something up.
You cannot keep doing everything you’re doing now AND add in a ton of new activities for amazing results.
Unless you are just super lazy now and not doing much. If that’s the case, more power to you.
However, most of us are really busy.
So start thinking through what you actually do in a day. We all have SOMETHING we do that wastes our time.
What’s your vice?
- Scrolling through social media?
- Staring aimlessly at the TV?
- Playing weird games like Candy Crush on your phone?
- Binge watching shows on your tablet?
- Playing video games?
Identify what your “thing” is, and then ask yourself which is more important.
For me, it’s watching TV. Reality TV specifically.
So I had to ask myself, would I rather keep watching OTHER people live their lives, or should I start living mine a little more fully?
Now is when I might start to sound a little crazy, but giving up TV is really hard for me.
I actually fashioned some generalized leading indicators to help me focus on the right sacrifices and freeing up my time.
Mine involved giving up all TV except for one series that I love the most, and also waking up at 5am four times a week for extra work time.
What will your sacrifices be?
12 Week Year Template
Now, what we’ve all been waiting for, the actual 12 Week Year template!
Once you’ve nailed down all the components you can’t start building a 12 Week Year tracking template.
Accountability and following through on leading indicators is obviously an important part of 12 Week Year success. You’ll want someone accessible that you can easily track with on a daily basis.
Your two major options are to go digital, or old school.
I started by laying everything out in an excel spreadsheet since it’s easier to play around with. I wanted to nail down the right format before transfer to a notebook.
Ultimately I chose a notebook because I get a certain satisfaction of physically checking something off and writing something down.
It’s also something I can always carry with me in a bag or purse.
How you want to track your weeks it a totally personal choice.
If you do decide to go the old school paper route, consider choosing a dotted notebook so you have a framework to build out your plan and keep it organized.
12 Week Year Template Scoring System
One of the most important aspects of your template is the scoring system.
For each lagging indicator you will have a weekly score. That means you’ll need to assign a value that makes sense.
Ideally you’ll want something that you can either succeed or fail with, either on a weekly or daily basis.
A few examples:
- Weight loss goal. With our original weight loss goal example we chose a leading indicator of consuming a certain amount of calories per day (or less). The value I would assign here is 7 total possible points. That means each day that I ate within calorie allowance I would earn a point. Each day I did not, I would not earn a point. I would have an individual leading indicator score for this metric of X/7 per week.
- Sales volume goal. For the sales volume call we would choose a leading indicator of X amount of cold calls per week. Let’s say that number is 100. We would record the number completed each day and at the end of the week our score would be a X/100 based on the number of calls done. This metric differs because you could complete 100 calls in one day, or spread them across several days. People who need a more structure plan, may choose to spread them evenly for a daily goal allowance instead.
- No TV goal. In this example, I would use a one point per day system. My total earn option would be 7 points, and I would earn one point per every day that I did not watch TV.
Each leading indicator should have an associated score and total points available to earn.
At the end of the week you will total all actual earned points and compare to total available points. This will equal your raw score (example: 48/5). When you divide the raw score, you will get your percentage score.
Keep in mind, the authors of 12 Week Year include that even if you’re not operating at 100%, you will still be way more productive than you would have otherwise.
Digital 12 Week Year Template
There are obviously several ways you can lay out your template, but here is the version that worked well for us.
This is an empty 12 Week Year template in a digital format.
Notebook 12 Week Year Template
Here is an example of a similar 12 Week Year template, but in a dotted notebook. It has a few metrics starting to fill out.
And here is the same 12 Week Year template filled out for the week.
This life is what you make of it. You can accomplish your goals with a little disciple, a little motivation, and a 12 Week Year plan.
Need a refresher on exactly how this amazing productivity tool works? Check out this 12 Week Year Beginner’s Guide.
You can also grab your own copy of the 12 Week Year book to get a little more inspiration. It’s a quick but powerful read!