Breaking Down Why the 12 Week Year Works for Aspiring Financial Professionals
Have you ever wondered why it is hard to keep up with your goals?
Let me be more specific…achieving our goals.
If you’re like me, you dream big, make plans, and then execution inevitably becomes a problem.
Why can’t we be more productive?
“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.”
This quote from the 12 Week Year provides some insight to the answer.
Over the next few minutes, we’ll explore why despite our best intentions our commitment levels to our dreams and plans can remain so low. Further, why the plans to execute on those dreams are flawed from the beginning and how we can change all of that with a shift in thinking that provides vision, a plan and process control that allows for success.
Are you ready to see why so many others and myself have successfully implemented this methodology to reach peak productivity in our lives?
“There’s nothing like a deadline to get you motivated.”
This is a true saying.
That’s why knowing that trash day is tomorrow prompts me to put the garbage can curbside the night before, however, if you tell me that I need to lose 25 pounds to get healthier, I don’t act as quickly. Why is that?
The goal of losing weight doesn’t have a deadline.
In now my third reading of The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months, I’ve extracted a lot of nuggets that I want to help you with.
(Note: I’ve summarized the book and if you’d like a copy of my notes, scroll to the bottom of this post.)
As Moran notes in the book:
“The thinking that says, “I will start building my ideal future tomorrow, or next week, or next month,” is fatally flawed. The future you are going to live is the one you are creating right now at this very moment.”
As humans, we seemed wired or at least prone to procrastination.
But as Moran also mentions:
” Reaching a breakthrough isn’t about being incremental. Breakthroughs require a profound change in the way that you work before it shows up in your results. In each case, creating a breakthrough will require a willingness to change how time is allocated.”
“The greatest predictor of your future are your daily actions.”
This is an extremely simple concept. Whether we like to admit it or not, the actions that you take today and tomorrow will lead to your future results. How can we maximize those actions though?
By changing the way you think.
This thinking shift happens in a concept called “periodization”. This is the focused training method utilized in the sports world that has athletes concentrate on just one skill at a time. A concept that flies in the face of our “multi-tasking” culture. However, this shift is crucial because it provides the basis for the methodology of the 12 Week Year and therefore its effectiveness.
What is the 12-Week Year?
The 12 Week Year is a methodology that utilizes a periodization schedule of focusing on the task at hand for a 12-week increment followed by a one-week rest. The book goes into depth as to the reasons behind this particular focus cycle and while those reasons are informative they are not necessary for you to understand how to use it.
Succinctly stated, as humans, we lack the discipline of consistent execution and that is the problem. We need structure to our chaos. We need to make better choices. We need to be more intentional.
This is why although we have a good plan, we never realize how good because the plan is never executed.
Why does this matter?
You don’t have unlimited time though you have unlimited choice.
As humans, we may feel like we have an infinite number of hours in a day to do things. But the truth is, you can only choose so many tasks, and right now it’s likely that your choices are poor and leading to ineffectiveness and dissatisfaction with life.
If I were to ask:
How much success do you have in your life?
How much satisfaction or fulfillment do you feel with your life?
How happy are you on the whole with the way things are going for you?
I would ask these questions knowing full well that there is a good chance there is room for improvement (and so would you, right?).
It’s important to note your answer to any of those questions because it will furnish the reason behind this shift in thinking and therefore why you might consider using the 12 Week Year.
What this methodology does is provide a focus cycle to accomplish tasks that you set out to do versus allocating time blindly across your week or month with no rhyme or reason as to how your actions will influence your future.
I’ve personally had success using this methodology in my life as well as with the clients I coach because it provides control in areas where we previously lacked initiative and willpower.
Everyone wants results, but no one wants to execute.
Kevin Hart once said: “Everyone wants to be famous, but no one wants to do the work”.
This is true of most things in life where success is coveted, but the long hours, days, weeks, months, and years (that go unnoticed) are dreaded and not glamorized.
The 12 Week Year provides a “recipe” that allows you to get more done in less time so you aren’t left with the Monday blues or dreading another week being wasted. Building a system of success is key to this process because without it becoming an ingrained habit, then its use won’t help you out in the long term.
One key benefit I’ve realized of using the 12 Week Year is that it provides a systematized process to achieve your goals founded on the idea of developing a weekly “rhythm”.
The tools it offers help you formulate an action plan with milestones to achieve, without overwhelming yourself with hours or days that don’t add up to anything tangible at all.
Mindset is everything.
Another consistent theme embedded in the book is that it is your thinking that drives your results.
It was Henry Ford that said: “If you think you can or can’t, you’re right.”
As Moran states in his book, it is seeing things that way that drives people to either sit idle or do nothing at all versus taking initiative. It’s not your circumstance that matters but how you think about it and what actions are taken. When your mindset is shifted from “I don’t have enough time” to “I can find a way”, the world changes for you.
What does this have to do with being productive?
That’s because as a victim you are powerless to change your situation–others are in control. However, when you adopt the mindset that you are not a victim, you gain control over your situation. This system gives you the power to visualize your day, your week, and your year in a way that is conducive to success. You become more productive because you concentrate on what actions you can control and aim for a consistent level of completion of those actions.
What are some of the benefits?
If you’ve hung around the Jumpstart community for any amount of time you’ve probably heard me mention the term “zone of genius”. This is the place where you feel you are operating at your highest and best use and outsourcing the rest of the activities that aren’t in that zone. The 12 Week Year is a facilitator to helping you stay in your “zone of genius”.
The longer I have used this method, the more I have realized how beneficial it has been in helping me prioritize the things that matter most as opposed to the things that matter least. What I like about the concept of this book and the 12 Week Year in general, is that it drives you towards achieving your goals on a week-by-week basis. When broken down into weekly cycles with milestones to achieve, then things get completed faster than if you tried to do it all at once or hoped to get it all done by the end of the year.
First, it prevents you from feeling like you can’t accomplish everything and helps focus your time where it needs to be. Next, it gives you insight as to what activities are providing value and which ones aren’t worth putting on your priority list any longer. Finally, it helps you visualize what needs to be done in order to get where you want to go and provides a system of discipline that is held accountable through tracking your time and progress each week.
This helps streamline and minimize efforts so that no time is wasted.
Can the 12 Week Year make me more productive and help me deal with the fear of making the leap?
I would have to say “yes”.
And here’s why…
Most aspiring financial professionals (career changer or not) are facing an uphill battle of many tasks. You may have to study for and pass crucial exams or classes. You may also find yourself having to go on multiple job interviews and prepare accordingly. You may even find yourself imposing a budget to help you transition and absorb the pay cut. Regardless of your situation, you’ll need a system to get you consistent results and move you forward in the journey.
Let’s look at what I feel are the 4 steps that will help you. I hope you can use these to begin the implementation of a more effective method to accomplish your goals.
Remember, the power of planning every week for 12 weeks is that it makes you focus on what matters. You spend time working on tasks that will move you toward the realization of your goal. This methodology prevents wasted hours and days by helping you to take advantage of the time when it’s available and filling in any holes with focused work when the time is right instead of scattered effort throughout the year.
Step 1 – Start with your vision
If you can see it, you can be it. I love that this methodology provides insulation against our natural tendencies to run from a challenge instead of to it. If you can visualize what you want, then you can create a set of actions that will get you there. Without this visualization, the plan won’t mean much. In my opinion, this is the most fun. Write down everything you can think of on a sheet of paper that is the most important to you. You’ll want to suspend your unbelief and include everything. Afterward, take the things that you connect with the most and start writing where you’d like to be in the next 5, 10, 15, or 20 years.
Own it. This is your vision.
One of the most noticeable changes in my life since becoming a fan of this strategy was to begin writing down and looking at my goals every day and week. As you might imagine, this has been an effective motivator for me to stay productive and focused. I have been able to accomplish things in a fraction of the time it would have taken me before. It also helps me realize the great divide between the things I want and think I should do versus what actually needs to be done.
Step 2 -Make a weekly plan.
The power of planning is that it provides focus despite the many distractions life will throw your way. The 12 Week Year provides an excellent way to map out your weeks and manage your time. Two key principles contained in planning (and throughout the book) are accountability (stance in life in which people acknowledge their role in outcomes) and commitment (a conscious decision to take specific action to create a desired result). These are crucial in helping you stick to your plan. As I mentioned, many people make plans but don’t execute them. Moran states that the reason for this is due to the lack of accountability and commitment.
Your plan will include specific things you want to accomplish (goals) and what it will take to accomplish those things (tactics). Everything is measured also so that you can know where you stand at all times. You may not achieve everything at a 100% rate of success but forward progress is the main idea here. Remember, “the greatest predictor of your future are your daily actions.”
Step 3 – Monitor/track your time
Tracking your time provides you with the data that is essential to making better decisions and having more energy for those things that matter most. It also helps you avoid wasting time, which is critical when determining what needs to be done in order to stay productive.
Start viewing time as a resource and not a commodity. Time is finite, but it’s how you use that time that counts. In some cases, it’s more effective to figure out what isn’t important and cut away those tasks from your day as opposed to adding new ones to your schedule. This prevents you from being spread too thin and allows you to buckle down on the tasks that matter so nothing is left incomplete or half-baked.
The concept of time-blocking has been a huge benefit to me in using this strategy. For example, to this day, I only use Mondays to think strategically about how to grow my business. There are no client meetings and I only check email at the beginning and end of the day. It allows for a very productive space of time to really move the needle on things that need to get done to meet my goals.
In considering your vision and your plan, what blocks of time during the week can you secure to make sure you work on making progress in those areas?
Step 4 – Develop habits to support the process
A key aspect of the 12 Week Year is to develop habits that will help you stay productive. This can be the time-blocking I previously mentioned, the process of meeting with others committed to keeping you honest in this process or scoring yourself to make sure you’re moving in the right direction. I recommend all of the above in order to increase the probability of success.
When there is a system in place and the activities become habitual, it makes it much easier to avoid the distractions that life throws at you. Finding your weekly “rhythm” is key to make sure you repeat the things that are working and stop the things that are not.
In my experience, it’s easy to get caught up in the results of our actions while letting the process slip. This can lead to losing track of what you are doing or why you are doing it in the first place. This is another reason I talk so much about creating a “why” that is sustainable. This ties right into the portion of the 12 Week Year implementation process that has you work on your vision (first).
I hope this post has provided insight on how to stay productive, what benefits you can gain from the 12 Week Year method, and help give you some ideas about starting your own plan.
P urpose (your WHY).
L eadership (your responsibility).
A ction (the outcome required).
N umber (your measure of progress).
This acronym is an easy way to make sure you are focusing on what matters most in developing your own 12 Week Year!