[Step by step] How to create a 12 Week Year Plan


You read the book and your mind was blown, the mere idea of doing getting done in 12 weeks what most people do in a year is like getting into that Dexter’s Lab episode where he can stop the time for the rest of the world but him, and get ready for school in a couple of minutes.

It’s not magic or science fiction, but where do you start?

Is it even possible or is this a scheme that only highly productive people can make work? 

If you haven’t read The 12 Week Year you should definitely do it, if you’re hesitating whether to buy it or not, my book review might help, I summarized most of it so you can have a global idea and decide to buy it and go deeper into the system:

I’m going to be honest with you, the first time I read the book I was mostly skimming through it, getting desperate with all the business talk,  and wanted to get to the ‘time multiplying’ part.

I remember thinking to myself, it seems interesting but maybe is too much work, this probably won’t work for me because with my twin toddlers I can’t even follow a simple schedule without interruptions,  but it turns out that I was actually scared of failing to implement the system -which I did the first time-.

The second time I read it I was paying more attention, was more motivated to implement it, I put on my life change and transformation hat, probably getting pushed by a certain book that I had read, and some talks that I had listened to, my inner talk was completely different this time: ‘well, this is actually doable’.

This post goes through how I got that extra push I needed at the right time, the books I read, and the actions I took: 

I had to re-read some chapters in order to actually get the step by step.  I’m on my second week of successfully implementing the 12  week year system and I’m going to show you how to actually put all this knowledge into action, step-by-step.

 Step one: Craft your vision

It’s easy to fall into the belief that you don’t need to write down what your goals are because you have them already on your mind, the thing is that we don’t really have anything clear in our minds until we put those thoughts into paper.

Because one day you may imagine your dream house with five bedrooms and an office with a view of your backyard and the other day you might totally forget about that backyard view and why that was important for you.

 When you have a Clear Vision you can deconstruct the steps that will lead you to that vision. For example: if you want to live in Berlin, Germany that’s the final destination; how’d you get there?

  1. By first learning German
  2. Saving some money
  3. Research for the requirements to get a job there being a foreigner
  4. Look for a job
  5. Get a job interview
  6. Buy plane tickets
  7. Rent a place
  8. Attend the interview and get the job
  9. Save more money
  10. And buy your own place.

 To make this Vision work it has to be very personal, you have to be attached in a deeper level to that vision like your life depends on it, you can’t picture yourself doing anything else,  because that way is how you’ll be able make a commitment.

 You have to craft your aspirational vision as clear and as detailed as possible in my  12 week year planner I have a total of  9 aspects to focus on while crafting your vision.  These aspects are Personal, Family, Health, Home, Career, Business, Finances, Lifestyle and Contributions .

  • Personal:  What new habits do you want to have? What languages do you want to speak? How do you feel about your life? Here you can also dwell on the spiritual aspect of your life, how is your relationship with a certain religion? How is your relationship with your inner self? and so on.
  • Health:  Do you see your future self as a more active person? What kind of exercises do you practice? How many times a week? What is your desired weight? Are you in shape? Do you have healthy eating habits? Do you feel energized every day when you get out of bed? Do you have a strong immune system?
  • Family: How is your relationship with your closest family members? How have you improved your relationship with your partner? Describe your ideal partner if there is one, it is perfectly okay to picture a future life without a partner but with strong familiar relationships.  How does your family see you?
  • Home:  Where do you live at? Do you own your house?  Do you have more than one place to live in?  Describe each of those dream homes: how many bedrooms, how many bathrooms, commodities backyard, garage,  your dream kitchen, picture every detail.
  • Career:  Which level of Education have you reached?  How do your colleagues see you as a professional? Do you teach? Are you on the research branch of your field?  How many hours do you dedicate to your professional life?  At which age do you want to retire?
  • Business: Is your main source of income different than your professional career? If so this is a relevant aspect of your life, is your business a source of passive income? How many hours a week do you dedicate to your business? How many people do you have on your team? How high do you want to escalate your business: regional, national, international? What is your annual revenue?
  • Finances:  What is your net worth?  How is your credit score?  Have you paid off your mortgage? Can you afford every luxury your mind can think of? Do you have more than enough money to live?  Can you financially support a member of your family that is not on your household?
  • Lifestyle:  What kind of clothes do you buy? Do you eat in fancy restaurants or do you prefer to stay home and cook for your family? Do you take vacations in the Caribbean or go on family road trips?
  • Contributions:  What can you give back to society? Which Charities do you support?  Do you want to build your own non-profit organization?

These are just ideas on how you can start  writing your vision remember to think on paper is not the same to  have a dream life than to actually see it on words and being able to read those words aloud.

When you have a clear idea of your Aspirational Vision, your dream lifestyle, then you can think on a medium length timeframe. Your 3-year vision, how closer do you think you will be to your aspirational goals?

 Step 2: Make the commitment

Do you know the difference between interest and commitment?  If you are interested in achieving your vision you will do the actions needed to get there only when the weather is good, when you’re not tired, when you feel motivated to take action.  When you are committed to achieving your vision,  nothing can stop you, there are no excuses.

To be able to commit to something you have to be aware of the costs it will take for you to implement the daily actions needed to get to your goals. 

This is why in my 12-week year planner I have a template dedicated to making the commitment, if you write down the reasons why you so deeply desire to achieve these goals you have something to read when you’re not feeling like applying your tactics, like any other Monday.

And not only that but you have to also bring to your conscious mind, put on your speech that you are aware that there will be sacrifices. 

You accept and understand that there will be times when you have to leave your comfort zone, when you have to skip social meetings, when you have to wake up early in winter and go out for a run.  And still you do it because when you are committed you don’t make excuses, you act.

Step  3:  Write your 12 week year plan

Take two or three goals to work on, break them down into tactics. Continuing with the ‘living in Germany’ goal example, if you want to reach a C1 level of German your tactics for your first quarter could be to sign up for German classes, to learn 10 new words a day, watch a German film weekly and assist to all your german classes without missing a single day.

Your tactics must be stated positively, measurable, they must be a realistic stretch for you, not too easy but not too hard, be time-bound and have accountability assigned, you are responsible for measuring the execution of your tactics.

I have set up a bundle of 15 pages to get this process easier, once you get the basic idea of how this method works you can fill out the pages of my planner and start achieving your goals one day at a time!

Step 4: Measure, Score and Share your progress

Make sure to keep track of your execution, not only the goals you’ve reached like the language level you’ve accomplished according to a test or the weight on the scale, but the daily actions that LEAD to those goals.

Those are the lead indicators, one of the most powerful things you can measure when trying to reach a goal because the completion of them and the results you get will let you know if the tactics you’re implementing are working or not.

If they are working, keep trying to improve your weekly scorecard (the percentage of successful execution) and share your progress in weekly accountability meetings. Pair up with people with similar goals and determination to reach them as you have.

If despite your efforts, week after week you don’t see the results you want, try and change the tactics one by one, until you start seeing progress, don’t get discouraged, most of the time the tactics will work, the effective execution is what fails.

If you keep having low scorecards focus on getting better and not on getting it perfect. Progress over perfection is always the answer.

Common mistakes when trying to apply The 12 Week Year

1. Not writing your vision:

You don’t think it is necessary and want to skip right into action, but guess what, you need a destination, before you make your map. A clear destination that will motivate you to keep going because in our lowest days is easy to feel overwhelmed and forget about your dream life.

It may seem impossible at first, but if you have something physical to read aloud, and your 3-year vision, that feels even more tangible, you are more likely to stay on track and keep coming with new tactics to achieve those goals.

2. Not committing:

We overestimate our self-control and discipline. Thinking you are committed without first giving a reflective thought of what it takes, what you’ll need to sacrifice, your inner reasons to accomplish your objectives, will make you lose time on the (not so long) run.

3. Not Planning

Thinking you have it all figured out and not having a clear step-by-step with daily actions to complete is only going to have you running in circles, without a clear path to follow.

4. Leaving it on paper

It can also happen that you elaborate your master plan, craft your vision with all the possible details, have these incredibly effective tactics, but, you’re waiting for the right moment to act, for the next quarter to start, for the best weather to come.

You have to let go of those excuses, because there is no right time, there’s just right now. Trust your instincts and start moving, go one step at a time and you’ll succeed.

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