Accomplish Big Goals with the 12 Week Year: How to Have the Best Quarter Ever

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12 week year

Sometimes, we can get caught up in the details and it takes our attention away from the bigger picture of what we really want to be doing with our days. With the beginning of quarter two starting, it’s a great time to reflect on the yearly goals you’ve set for yourself.

What if you thought of each quarter of the calendar as a full year contained within those 3 months? What would be possible for you? How would you think of time differently? Would that change your behavior or thinking?

Honestly, you can do this any time, but there’s something about a fresh quarter, month, or week that feels really good to start a new project! So, I’d encourage you to think of the next 12 weeks (whenever you’re reading this!) as one full year.

Let’s take a look at why thinking of the year in an accelerated time frame can hone decision-making skills and a few ways you can use the concept of a 12 week year to help you accomplish some amazing progress before the summer really starts swinging.

Why Think of the Quarter as a Year

You know that quote from Einstein that says, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions”? That’s the funny thing about humans. We take exactly as long as we have to do something. It’s like when we give ourselves an hour or a day to complete a task. We finish the task either way, but we do a lot more dancing around and less doing when we give yourself a day.

When I do this 12 week year exercise with my clients, it really highlights the fact that if we think we have 12 months to do something, we’ll take 12 months. But if we have 12 weeks, we’ll take 12 weeks.

Make Progress on Your Real Goals

“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” — Henry David Thoreau.

Now, I’m not advocating busy-ness for busy-ness’s sake. There’s a difference between making measurable, tangible progress in the direction of your goals versus “doing things” and “being busy.”

With this concept of having a 12 week year, I’m really asking you to examine the time you think it’ll take to do something. Often, my clients are amazed at what they can accomplish. The point is to begin and put something out in the world. Once you do, you can start making money on it! You can also refine it once it’s released rather than tinker and use the fear of perfection to keep you from getting started.

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Filter Out Extraneous, Unimportant Details

Sometimes, my clients get caught up thinking in a loop. They focus on a small detail that, in the large scheme of things, isn’t important to their success in a project. We all do this, to be honest! When I notice a client ruminating on “Should this be a blue background with a white font or a white background with a blue font,” I know they’ve been hijacked and are getting too rigid with the details.

Thinking of releasing a project in 12 weeks instead of 12 months invites back some curiosity. It asks, “What is the most important part of this that I need to be working on right now” and helps us filter out details that our brains get stuck on.

In the development world (and probably others!), there’s a concept of an MVP. It doesn’t stand for “most valuable player.” Here, it means “minimum viable product.” Thinking of releasing a new project or launching a business in terms of an MVP shows us what’s actually important and asks us to filter out the unimportant details.

When thinking of our weeks as months and 12 weeks as a full year, we really start to see where our energy needs to go to make the most impact. It allows us to determine what’s the most essential thing to focus on right now and block out the rest.

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Two Ways to Use the Concept of the 12 Week Year in Your Business

There’s no right or wrong way to make progress on our goals, but the idea of the 12 week year certainly helps us decide what’s the most important and do that first. Here are two ways to work with this concept of a 12 week year.

Work on 12 Mini-Goals

What would be possible if you accomplished 12 things over the course of 12 weeks? That means in a year, it is possible to have done 48 things. That is an extraordinary accomplishment!

In this method, you’ll be accomplishing one goal every week to add up to 12 goals accomplished in a quarter. This asks you to hone your focus muscles so you don’t get distracted and forget what you really should be doing.

Step 1:

Write a big list of things you want to do. This could be: Create a blogging schedule, Set up a system for bookkeeping, Refresh the Welcome Sequence emails, and so on. It doesn’t matter what it is so much as making sure it is reasonable to do within the time-frame allotted.

Step 2:

Decide on your time schedule. Will you do 12 things in 12 weeks or 6 things in 12 weeks. Or a mix of the two? No matter what you do, be realistic with what you can accomplish. When in doubt, err on the side of it taking more time than you anticipate.

Bonus Step 3:

Break each of your goals into smaller goals. Give each day of the week (or two weeks if you’re giving yourself two instead of one) a job to keep you on task. This is a bonus step because it makes things a lot easier when you’ve thought of each step beforehand! That way, you can sit down at your desk and know exactly what you’re doing.

Who this is great for:

  • QuickStarts who like to always be doing something new
  • Multi-passionate business owners who want to do a few things very well
  • Those with big to-do lists that want to get things to-done

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One Large Goal

If you have something big you want to accomplish rather than a laundry list of things that would feel good to get done, you may want to try this method for the next 12 weeks. Over this 12 week year, you’ll focus on 12 related tasks to culminate in one big concept or goal accomplished.

Step 1:

Determine your “big goal.” In this example, let’s say you’re launching a course for your business.

Step 2a:

Write down absolutely everything that needs to happen. Include every detail you can think of, everything from Choose a delivery platform to Write course content to Send an email to ask my coach for support on this.

Step 2b:

Now, go back over that list and highlight or circle the main things that need to happen. These would be things like Create course content and Promote course to beta testers. Transfer each of these big things to a new piece of paper (you should have 12 pieces of paper — you can have less, but you should not have more).

Step 3:

Congrats, you have your plan for each of the 12 weeks in your year! Using your list from step one, fill in some of the smaller steps that you can do to support the completion of each week’s main idea to keep you on task each day. Under Create course content, you may have smaller steps like Outline course, record all videos, edit all videos, create worksheet for course.

This pre-plan will give you structure and also ensure you don’t get bogged down in smaller details that are not necessary to focus on yet.

As in the 12 Mini Goals example, take care to be realistic with what you can accomplish. The idea isn’t to overwhelm you or make you feel bad! It’s to give you an MVP that’s “done” and “launchable” that you can improve upon in weeks to come.

If you have too many tasks or you’re finding you “bit off more than you could chew,” re-evaluate whether you’re adding in too many details that aren’t necessary right now. Adjust what you’re doing or your timeline. The idea is progress over perfection!

Who this is great for:

  • Systems-focused people who like following steps
  • Business owners who want to keep steady momentum on one big goal at a time
  • Those who need to take an overwhelming project into mini-steps and launch their thing with a solid foundation to grow upon

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When you think of your time in a different way, you’ll think of what’s truly important to you and take action in alignment with those goals.

Since we’re starting a new quarter (conveniently, it’s 12 weeks) this month, what would happen if you thought of this quarter as a full year? What would you like to do before the summer hits? How would that motivate you to think of your days and weeks differently?

Of course, you can do this any time. Just think of what you’d like to accomplish at the end of 12 weeks. What would feel good to get done before the summer, before school starts again, before the holidays… You get it!

Personally, I love this concept of a 12 week year. It takes the overwhelm away. It also ensures that you’re focusing on what truly matters. Certainly, there will be distractions that come up, but by thinking of the 12 weeks as one year, with one week per month, you realize very quickly what is a priority and what deserves your attention.

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Mindset coach, business strategist, and soul-filled success catalyst for women entrepreneurs on the rise.

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