Eat that Frog – Book Review






Written by Brian Tracy, a businessman, coach, and productivity guru he goes straight to the point with 21 clever tips to overcome procrastination and get things done.

Here I’ll show you the highlights of his 21 advices to improve productivity.

At the beginning of the book, he talks about how the path to success is already built, and you just have to follow what other successful people have already done and proved to work. It’s not rocket science, find someone who is remarkable in your field, ask him how did he get to that point, and apply it to your career.

I felt like he was talking directly to me, we sometimes fall into the mistake of thinking that we have to be unique, we have to do something different to succeed. Therefore we use all our time and energy into thinking these brand new idea that no one has thought about before, when the path is already there.

Truth is, even if you follow the steps of somebody else who has already reached success you will always instill your own personality to it. you will always find something to improve and customize it to your routine to your schedule, you just have to start.

“The ability to concentrate single-mindedly on your most important task, to do it well, and to finish it completely is the key to great success achievement, respect, status and happiness in life”

Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog

In this book he will teach us exactly that, how to recognize your most important task, and work on it non-stop until you finish it, because that is the secret to success.

What does eat that frog mean?

Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long. Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you’re most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.

Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog

Your frog is the most important task you have to do today, the one that if you don’t do it will make you feel bad, but if you succeed you’ll feel like a champion, you’ll feel energized to get going with your day with the confidence that you’re moving toward your bigger goals one step at a time.

There’s something interesting about finishing these big scary tasks, the completion itself gives us a release of dopamine, that feel good hormone in our brains, you can develop a healthy addiction to finishing big tasks, in a way that it will get easier everyday to sit and get to work and don’t stop until you’re done, getting the habit of finishing what you start is a daily practice that onbce acquired will set you up for success.

“You have a virtually unlimited ability to learn and develop new skills, habits and abilities. When you train yourself, through repetition and practice, to overcome procrastination and get your most important task completed quickly, you will move yourself onto the fast track in your life and career and step on the accelerator.”

Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog

1. Set the table:

You have to be clear about your objectives before you start working on them, he encourages us to think on paper. Writing your objectives, will make them more real, tangible, this will give you a reminder of why you wanted to do this in the first place, and the motivation you will need sometimes to start doing it.

He talked about formula for setting and achieving goals, that has seven steps:

  1. Decide exactly what you want.
  2. Write it down.
  3. Set a deadline on your goal. Set sub-deadlines if necessary.
  4. Make a list of everything that you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal.
  5. Organize the list into a plan.
  6. Take action on your plan immediately.
  7. Resolve to do something every single day that moves you toward your major goal.

2. Plan every day in advance:

Did you know that every minute spent in planning saves you 10 minutes in execution? If you only take 10 minutes every night before you go to sleep to plan your day ahead, you can save up to 2 hours that will be used to start working right on what you have to do.

His advice is to always work from a list, if something else shows up add it to your list, but keep working from it. There are four different lists mentioned in this book that are key to scheduling how you’ll be working on your goals:

  • A master list, this is where you put all your lifetime goals, everything you want to do sometime in the future.
  • A monthly list, where you decide what are you going to work on each specific month.
  • A weekly list, here you take little pieces of work from your monthly list and plan your whole week ahead.
  • A Daily list, this is the one that you make the night before, including tasks from your weekly list.

Writing the daily list the night before it’s a little hack for your brain to sub-consciously work on how to resolve those problems, or how to finish those tasks quickly.

3. Apply the 80/20 rule to everything

Pareto’s Principle applied to productivity translates into this: 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results.

Your have to identify what are the main tasks that will bring the highest value to your job, career or business. It is applicable to any subject.

A high-value task most of the time will take the same amount of time to finish than a low-value task, be smart when choosing where to invest your time and energy.

4. Consider the consequences

Something that is important a long-term consequence if it is not done correctly and on time. To identify your most important task you have to ask yourself what are the potential consequences of doing or not doing this task? The clearer you are about your goals the easier it will be to identify what are the most important tasks when you answer this question.

“Time is going to pass anyway. The only question is how you use it and where you are going to end up and at the end of the weeks and months.”

Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog

And where you end up depends on your actions, and if you have correctly chosen which are your most important tasks.

5. Practice creative procrastination

There is not enough time to do everything you need to do you will always procrastinate on something, if you have your priorities straight you can choose to procrastinate on those activities that are low-value, delegate them, outsource and eliminate them. and Focus your time on your high-value activities.

“Creative procrastination is the act of thoughtfully and deliberately deciding upon the exact things you are not going to do right now, if ever”

Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog

6. Use the ABCDE method

This is a priority setting technique, you assign letters to the activities depending how it’s importance. Making it easier to decide whether you should be doing a certain task or another.

  • A: These tasks are very important, you must do them or there will be negative consequences.
  • B: you should do this, if you don’t there will be mild consequences.
  • C: This is something that would be nice to do, but there will be no consequences at all if you decide not to do this.
  • D: This is something you can delegate to somebody else, so you can free up more time for the “A” items on your list.
  • E: you can eliminate altogether these tasks and it won’t make any difference.

7. Focus on key result areas

Ask yourself what is the one thing that you and only you can do, you are the only responsible for this and if you don’t do it it won’t get done, those are your key results areas. If you focus your efforts on improving the skills needed to get the work done efficiently you’ll succeed and will bring the most value to your company or business.

One of the reasons we procrastinate to complete a job is because we lack of the skills needed to do it correctly, or we have done it poorly in the past, instead of putting it away be honest with yourself and make the commitment to improve in that area so you can do that tasks you are solely responsible of excellent and on time.

8. The Law of Three

If someone gives you 30 seconds to write down your three most important goals in life, what would they be? This answer is as accurate as if you’ve been given 3 hours to think about it. When you think fast enough your brain will put in front of you your top priorities. These are the ones that if you put all your efforts on will give you the greatest satisfaction.

You can apply this law to define your priorities, your most valuable tasks, the 3 actions that will provide most income to your business, and it takes no more than 30 seconds. In the book there are several given aspects to think about using this approach, family, finances, personal, health goals, you can ask yourself what are your goals on these areas and what are the most valuable actions you can take to improve in just 30 seconds.

9. Prepare thoroughly before you begin

Have a comfortable work space, with everything you need to get the work done at reach, keep in mind that you’ll be working for a long time you have to eat your frog completely before moving onto another task.

One of the reasons we procrastinate on getting the work done is because we get up to find things that weren’t in our workspace, therefore distracting ourselves from our main task.

“Once you have completed your preparations, it is essential that you launch immediately toward your goals. Get started. Do the first thing, whatever it is.”

Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog

Sit up straight, get yourself into the skin of a highly efficient, high performing personality. Get to work and don’t stop until you’re finished.

10. Take it one barrel at a time

This goes for taking it one step at a time, it doesn’t matter if you don’t really know how to continue after you’ve finished with this task, if you take it one step at a time the path you need to follow will eventually appear, you just have to keep moving forward. Your next step will soon be clear to you.

11. Upgrade your key skills

Learn what you need to learn so you can get your work done in an excellent fashion. Improve your skills, in a way that it gets easier and faster every day to get your work done.

Never stoplearning, the better you are at a determined skill the more likely you are to jump straight to work and finish it.

12. Leverage your special talents

We all have talents, that thing that it’s easier for you to do than it is for others. You can do it faster and better, and if you focus your efforts on improving that talent there are no limits on how successful you can be.

Do what you love to do, take those talents and turn them into high value for everything you put your mind on doing.

13. Identify your key constrains

Do not ignore your constrains, because whatever it is that is holding you back you have to identify it and try t o alleviate it so you don’t have any limitations on how fast can you grow or how far can you go.

The 80/20 rule can be applied to this, 80% of your constrains are internal, these are limiting factors that you can control and improve, the other 20% you can do nothing about because they are not in your circle of influence. Focus on what you can control, and the first step to improve it is identifying it.

14. Put the pressure on yourself

Don’t be that person who waits for somebody else to come and push them to do what they need to do. Take the initiative, work harder, be your own coach.

If you want to build your self-esteem start by doing better than expected, not bacuase anyone tells you to do so, but because you want to prove yourself that you can.

15. Maximize your personal powers

Take care of your body, eat healthy, rest well and the machinery you have to work with will perform at its highest.

Overworking can be underproducing, when you’re tired the best thing you can do is to stop, take a rest and continue when your body is fully rested and ready to get the work done.

Work at your own pace, under your conditions, know your body and how you perform at different times of the day so you can take advantage of this.

16. Motivate yourself into action

Be your own personal cheerleader, keep an eye on your inner talk, and try to avoid the negative, develop a positive attitude and you’ll soon find that seeing solutions where other people see a problem will be beneficial for you in the long run.

17. Get out of technological time sinks

We all need a little break from technology from time to time, it can consume so much time and have us “busy” by staying connected through emails, messages, we can lose a little bit of sight where we are heading to.

Don’t let technology take control of your time, you have to be the one who sets the amount of time you dedicate to technology and what amount of time you set for goal achievement.

Continuous contact is not essential, if you don’t keep up to date with the news the problems will solve anyway, if something really important is happening you will know it even if you don’t dedicate time to reading the news.

18. Slice and dice the task

If your frog is too big to be eaten at one seat, slice it down into little chuncks. This way you’ll feel a little bit of enthusiasm everytime you complete one of the sub-taks and it will keep you motivated to keep going.

You can develop a complusion to finish your tasks that motivates you to go through them until completion.

19. Create large chuncks of time

Time-blocking, we all know it is helpful but not all of us apply it. It is essential to have control of our time, define hours to specific tasks, and stick to your schedule. Use a time planner and work on it, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly and even minutes, keep track of everything.

The more control you have over your time the more effective you’ll be at your tasks.

20. Develop a sense of urgency

Once you have it all planned out, it is clear, your desk is with everything at reach, you have to jump right in to work like there’s nothing more important right at that moment than finishing it.

Get into the zone, focusing all your efforts on a single task without distractions for some time will get you into a state of flow.

“In the state of flow, which is the highest human state of performance and productivity, something almost miraculous happens to your mind and emotions. You feel elated and clear. Everything you do seems effortless and accurate. You feel happy and energyzed. You experience a tremendous sense of calm and increased personal effectiveness.”

Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog

21. Single handle every task

Once you decide what is your most important task anything else you do besides working on it is a waste of time, so don’t try to multitask on this. Focus all your energy on one task at a time without interruptions, because every time you distract yourself and try to get back to work your mind has to make a shift that takes some time to do, focusing from one activity to another makes you lose valuable time.

Final thoughts

I liked the fact that you can take any of these advices and put it to work alone you’ll see an improvement in your performance. You can hand pick which ever suits best for your aspirations and it will work.

[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.

Train your brain for success in 15 minutes a day

 

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Can we really train our brains?

Our brains have an incredible power that we are just beginning to understand, research has shown that the patterns that determine our tendencies to fail or succeed can be transformed by actively training our brains, and being aware of our thoughts.

John Assaraf has built five multi-million dollar companies, he is The Times bestselling author of ‘The answer’ and ‘Having it all’ and he has been widely considered one of the leading behavioral and mindset experts in the world.

From problematic teen to successful entrepreneur, John discovered the way to transform his brain to achieve the biggest goals.

Ever since he learned the path to success he’s been researching and finding new ways to help people train themselves to achieve anything they want in life, at first he did it in his companies and then translated those teachings to books and programs.

Here are the keys to start training your brain for success implemented by him and proven to work:

1. Have a clear vision
2. Make a commitment
3. Emotionalize
4. Change your beliefs

Have a clear vision

In order to achieve the lifestyle you want, you need to have a clear vision of what that is. And daydreaming about the life of rich and famous just doesn’t make the cut; you have to be really specific about what you want.

Here’s how he was taught to actually craft his vision and life goals:

“He said fill out these pieces of paper and on the piece of paper it said like what age do you want to retire by, I was 19 this was May of 1980, I wasn’t even started yet I said but I want to retire by the time at 45 with three million dollars, I want to have a Mercedes, I want to have a house, I want to travel the world, I want to have a great lifestyle.”

Write down how you want your future to be in every aspect: health, finances, spirituality, love, family, career, business, fun, experiences, every detail.

The reason why your vision has to be so detailed and personal for you is because that is the only way you’ll be able to commit to work day in and day out towards achieving every step of the ladder.

You have to find inspiration in your vision, you have to feel moved, excited, energized when you read aloud what your life will be like if you keep working small steps at a time to get there. The more you read those words the more they will be engraved in your brain, the clearer it will be when you try and visualize them.

Make a commitment

I didn’t really pay attention to the difference between interest and commitment until I read ‘The 12 Week Year’. There’s a huge difference that we sometimes don’t perceive when we set goals, we might think that we are committed to reach them, but most of the time we are just interested. Can you tell the difference?

Here’s what Alan Brown, John’s mentor told him when he asked the difference between interest and commitment:

“If you’re interested you’ll do what’s convenient, you’ll come up with stories and excuses and reasons why you can’t and you’ll use your education as an excuse, you’ll use your story as an excuse, you’ll use the fact your dad is a cabdriver and was a gambler and never had any money, you’ll use all of that as your reasons why you can’t. But if you’re committed you will do whatever it takes, you’ll let go of your stories, you’ll let go of your excuses, you’ll let go of all the reasons you currently have that are formulating your identity of yourself; and you’ll learn how to let that go and become who you are destined to become. “

Is not about how bad you want it, is about how much work you are willing to put into it. To make a commitment you need to be aware of the things you’ll have to sacrifice to keep that commitment. Whether that is time, comfort, money, socializing, be clear about it and decide if your vision has greater weight than the sacrifices you’ll have to make.

I talk a little bit more about Interest vs Commitment in my book review of ‘The 12 Weeks Year’ you can read it here.

Emotionalize

There is power in repetition, in looking at stuff, in touching, in feeling, hearing, and memorizing.

“Read your goals, every one of them every morning, run your fingers across them as you’re reading them and then when you’re finished one paragraph close your eyes and feel what would it be like if that was true. So you got me to see it, to touch it, to close my eyes and visualize it and to feel it.”

This is how you create new neural patterns in your brain.
John had to do that every single day for a year to re-wire his brain into a goal-achiever, it only took ten or fifteen minutes a day to read, visualize and feel the success that was awaiting him.

Why does emotionalizing work?

When we visualize something and feel what it would be like if that were true there are circuits in our brain that release neurochemicals. If the emotion is positive we release dopamine and serotonin they activate the reward system in our brains, the activation of the reward system makes us feel motivated to move towards the source of that emotion.

If the emotion is negative and you keep visualizing failure, loss, all these things that could go wrong that fear activates the stress circuits on the brain, then epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol are released, these neurochemicals are what keep holding us back from reaching our potential, the fear of loss failure and inadequacy.

The bright side of this is that we can learn to control it, we can create the habit of consciously have positive self-talk, of stop our train of thoughts when they are leading to an unpleasant vision of failure, and it’s a daily practice that can be implemented easily in any place.

Change your beliefs

Write down what would you have to believe about yourself in order to achieve those goals?

So I’d have to believe I’m smart enough, I’m deserving enough, I’d have to believe I’m worthy enough, I’d have to believe I’m capable of doing this.

Then make a whole list of beliefs for each of your goals record those things and on your way to work / school you listen to those over and over and over and over and over again until you can recite every single one of them.

There is power in repetition, in looking at stuff, in touching, in feeling, hearing and memorizing.

It takes repetition, emotion and consistency initially it will be hard and you have to use conscious effort to create the new beliefs. But over 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 180 days that new pattern that you’re focusing on and paying attention to will be accepted by your brain.

Your brain will fight back, it will try to preserve your old beliefs, that’s the only thing it knows even though some of your current beliefs are toxic and keeping you from reaching your potential. Your brain doesn’t make a difference if you have a false belief of not being good enough, it is just what it has been taught.

“My brain was screaming that’s bullshit, that’s not true you’re not successful, you’re not earning that amount of money, you’re not smart, you’re not this. But I was also taught at the same time that when that happens first and foremost that’s normal is the old self and the old patterns trying to fight for their life”

Take action, keep moving

It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop.

“I learned the value of progress versus perfection none of my mentors ever had me focus on perfection let me focus on progress to just keep getting better little incremental gains every day, every week, every month, every quarter. Even when you move backward a couple of steps the progress that you made is what you learned.”

Failure is an opportunity to learn, you need to disassociate being a failure from failing.

It doesn’t matter what your story says about you, or what you think your story is, your background, your education, you can always change your story, steer the wheels and do it now. Once you are on the right path that will lead you to the life you deserve to live don’t stop.

There are many more valuable lessons to learn from this man, I’ve been listening to this interview over and over again for days, to make his teachings stick to my head because they are pure gold. I hope you find it useful and implement it in your life.

The 12 Week Year Book Review

 

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Time is our most valuable asset, and The 12 Week Year gives us an approach to make the most out of every week, it’s a book that you need to read actively, implementing the steps and activities they give you in each chapter.

Imagine if you could maintain the focus of the first couple weeks of January for reaching your new year’s resolutions all the way through December, there would be amazing changes in your life if your motivation and actions weren’t diminished as time went by.

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The 12 week year presents a system where you keep working on your goals, day in and day out without having to rely on the first peak of motivation of the beginning and the urgency we get to get things done in the last weeks of each year.

A program that has worked for companies to get more productivity can also be applied to any aspect of our lives that needs constant improvement.

It consists of creating a vision to work towards an ultimate goal that excites you, and deconstruct it into small pieces of daily actions that will sum up, packing these actions into a weekly plan, and review your performance every week.

The importance of periodization

Setting goals in an annual way of thinking, gives us the misconception that we have plenty of time to accomplish them and we keep pushing them, to start working towards them on the next Monday, next 1st day of the month, our next birthday, and so on, until the end of the year comes inevitably and we’ve done so little work on the changes we needed to implement to improve our lives.

The 12 week year makes us think in a shorter period of time to reach quarterly goals. In one year you’ll get 4 quarters, 4 opportunities to focus on different aspects of your life, and weekly reviews are a chance to measure the execution of those daily actions that contribute to your master vision of the life you desire.

In 12 weeks you only focus on the minimum number of actions that are most important to hit your goal.

The execution system of The 12 Week Year lies in 8 elements:

  1. Vision
  2. Planning
  3. Process control
  4. Measurement
  5. Time use
  6. Accountability
  7. Commitment
  8. Greatness in the moment

Crafting your vision

There are three time horizons that The 12 Week Year wants us to focus our vision on:

  • Long term aspirations
  • Mid-term goals, about three years into the future
  • 12 Weeks which will become our action plan.

Writing down Long term aspirations will give us the push and motivation we need when things start getting difficult, we remember why we are doing this in the first place, what is the life we want to live, it doesn’t matter how big our dreams are, we can always turn them into plans.

You can turn your dreams into plans in three steps:

  1. By thinking about your dreams that might seem impossible and asking yourself: What if…? How would it feel if that was true, how would your family’s life be if that was true? Once you start seeing your vision as possible you can move to the next step.
  2. Now you ask yourself: How might I? With this question you put your mind to work and turn that vision from possible to probable; it will be probable that you reach it by implementing some changes in your life.
  3. Take those changes you must implement into your life and turn them into a plan, those daily actions that you know you need to do in order to accomplish greatness, and with consistency, your vision will shift from probable to given.

Writing down mid-term goals, helps you get a clearer vision of what you need to work on and start creating your action plan: The 12 week plan.

The 12 Week Plan:

Start by choosing some goals to work towards that will get you closer to your vision. Then for each goal write down tactics that stretch you out of your comfort zone, these have to be actions, that you can implement daily or weekly and measure progress and execution of them.

The 12 week goal is the bridge between your vision and your 12 week plan; your 12 week goal should be a realistic stretch for you. Decide on the progress you are willing to commit to achieving in the next 12 weeks.

Following these criteria makes a great 12-week plan and tactics:

  1. Each goal and tactic must be specific and measurable.
  2. State them positively.
  3. Ensure they are a realistic stretch, not too hard but not too easy for you to not see any change.
  4. Assign accountability; be honest and make yourself accountable for the execution of those tactics.
  5. Be time-bound; you must assign a deadline to each tactic and goal.

Process control

“Process control is a set of tools and events that help you work your plan even when you get hit in the mouth”

You will not always be motivated, you will not always have willpower, process control is then the system that supports you to keep going and stick to the plan even when it’s cold outside, you’re tired or you just don’t feel like it.

Basically having a clear plan, that has the vital actions you have to take in order to reach your 12-week goal, meaning that having completed them equals progress and gives you that little push you need.

Also having a weekly accountability meeting (WAM) with a team, or partner willing to do this side by side will help you stay on track, sharing your progress, your weekly execution score, what worked, what didn’t, and how to improve the plan.

Then scoring your week based on execution of the tactics, planning your next week accordingly, and participating in a weekly accountability meeting will be your weekly routine that keeps you on track and focused on your objectives.

Measurement

We need to start keeping scores of not only the achievements but the execution of the tactics that lead to them. Only this way we’ll make sure that the actions we are taking are working or not. To measure progress we are presented to Lead and Lag indicators which we need to keep track of.

  • Lag indicators are the end result, the weight you want to reach, the grade you want to score, etc. Your 12 week goals are your ultimate lag indicators, these are what we usually measure.
  • Lead indicators are the things that happen early in the execution process, the miles you run, the amount of hours you spend studying, etc.  Whatever indicator you decide to measure make sure to track and record your progress each week for every goal.

On the 12 Week Year they present us a Weekly Scorecard which shows the percentage of tactics that you completed in the previous week, aim to reach 85% or more, but if you reach less than that don’t be discouraged and keep striking for progress and getting better week by week.

Don’t be afraid to confront what the numbers are telling you, remember that a weekly scorecard of less than 85% isn’t necessarily bad if you’ve been having an improvement from previous weeks, just commit to making progress each week.

Time use

On The 12 Week Year we are encouraged to take control of our time and make it the most valuable resource we have, therefore, reducing interruptions by blocking your time and setting timeframes to specific actions instead of multitasking and trying to do it all at the same time.

There are three primary components of performance time: strategic blocks, buffer blocks, and breakout blocks, after you’ve saved time for those you can plan around the remaining time and your progress will keep up.

  1. Strategic block: 3 hours of uninterrupted time scheduled each week, you will focus all your energy in producing breakthrough results. These will be high-value activities that contribute to your long term vision.
  2. Buffer blocks: 30 minute, to an hour daily; designed to deal with all the unplanned and low-value activities like emails, phone-calls, etc. The power of these blocks comes from grouping together activities that tend to be unproductive but have to be done, therefore, placing them in a defined block of time you will gain great control of your day, not having to deal with them every couple of hours distracting you from high value activities.
  3. Breakout blocks: at least 3 hours long weekly break from anything related to work, this is to release stress, do different activities to refresh, and reinvigorate yourself so when you return to work, you can engage with more focus and energy.

Accountability as Ownership

We need to let go of the negative tag that accountability has, you can’t hold someone else accountable because it is a matter of oneself; accountability is being responsible, honest, and taking ownership of our acts and their immediate and future results.

Interest vs. Commitment

When you’re interested in doing something, you’ll only do it when circumstances permit it, you’ll find excuses not to do it, and sometimes those excuses will make total sense for you and for anyone else.

When you’re committed to something you will do whatever it takes to reach it, you’ll accept no excuses, no change of circumstances will take you away from your commitment, you will only accept results.

In this book we are highly encouraged to make commitments, and to be successful in keeping them you need to have:

  • A strong desire: it has to be personal and meaningful to you, otherwise, you’ll find excuses not to push through hard times.
  • Clear keystone actions to follow
  • Awareness of the costs, the downsides of what taking these actions might have on your life, it could be time, money, loss of comfort. Identifying the costs before you commit allows you to consciously choose whether you are willing to pay the price of your commitment.

Greatness in the Moment

The moment you decide to change and start implementing keystone daily actions in order to reach your goals you are already reaching greatness.

In the book they give the example of Michael Phelps, he didn’t achieve greatness when he won his eighteenth gold medal or when he won his first. But every day he went to the pool and made his practices, every workout, meal choose, every action he took that lead him to winning from day one is what made him great from the start.

Results are not the attainment of greatness, but simply the confirmation of it. You become great long before the results show it.

Final thoughts

This system of a 12 Week Year with quarterly goals to reach and look up to, it made me change the way I approach my goals, I’m truly motivated to implement these tactics into my life and I’m ready for the improvement it will bring.

I will be sharing the crafting of my vision and my 12-week plan, because I know it might seem overwhelming at first, I had to re-read some chapters to understand the system and how to implement the tactics.

Overall, this is a great book, if you’re willing to reinstall your “operating system” and are open to change and improve your life with a different approach.