We are getting closer and closer to the New Year, and some of us are filled with a sense of renewal and aspiration.

It’s a great time to set new goals and aspirations or to evaluate our current path, inviting us to redirect and transform certain aspects of it.

To help you on your journey, here are three innovative and practical planning techniques to hekp you significantly increase the chances of success. Each method offers a unique approach, catering to different preferences and lifestyles. If you’re into planning and designing your life, you might enjoy testing these methods and choose which one works best for you.

1. The 12 Week Year

Origin and Purpose: Developed by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington, the “12 Week Year” is a revolutionary approach to planning and goal setting. It redefines a year as a 12-week period instead of 12 months. This method helps individuals and organizations align their thinking to shorter time frames, creating a sense of urgency and focus.

You are basically condensing what you would normally aim to achieve in a year into just 12 weeks. This creates a sense of urgency and a laser-focused mindset, enabling more efficient and effective work. It goes without saying that planning 12 months and executing these months into week is tough, but it might just be what very ambitious people need who want to see quick progress.

How It Works: Instead of setting annual goals, you break down your objectives into 12-week segments. This approach encourages you to concentrate on critical activities that drive success, thereby enhancing your productivity and efficiency. By working in shorter bursts, you can maintain a higher level of intensity and focus, making it easier to track progress and adjust strategies as needed.

Why It’s Effective: The 12 Week Year condenses the goal-setting process, providing a clear roadmap for action. This immediacy helps in maintaining motivation and reduces the ‘I’ll do it later’ mentality. Frequent assessments and adjustments keep you on track, making it easier to achieve significant breakthroughs in a shorter period.

Goal Setting Explained: the 12 Week Year

A Quick Manual to how the System Works

Step 1: Setting Your Vision

Envision Your Future

Start by painting a vivid picture of where you want to be. This could be a professional ambition, a personal development goal, or an improvement in your relationships or health. Imagine how achieving this goal will impact your life.

Step 2: Establishing 12 Week Goals

Break Down Your Vision

Identify specific, measurable goals that you can realistically achieve in 12 weeks. These goals should be ambitious enough to challenge you but attainable enough to keep you motivated.

Step 3: Planning for Success

Develop an Action Plan

Outline a detailed plan for each week of the 12 weeks. This plan should include specific actions that will directly contribute to achieving your goals. Prioritize tasks and focus on activities that have the most significant impact.

Step 4: Keeping Score

Track Your Progress

Use a scoring system to monitor your progress weekly. Assign points to each task, and at the end of the week, calculate your score. This helps in maintaining accountability and provides a clear picture of where you are in relation to your goals.

Step 5: Time Blocking

Schedule Your Tasks

Allocate specific blocks of time in your calendar for tasks related to your goals. Treat these time blocks as non-negotiable appointments with yourself. Time blocking ensures dedicated focus and helps avoid distractions.

Step 6: Weekly Reviews

Reflect and Adjust

At the end of each week, review your progress. Reflect on what worked well and what didn’t. This is crucial for learning and adjusting your plan. Use this insight to tweak your approach for the following week.

Step 7: Accountability Meetings

Stay Committed

Consider partnering with a colleague, friend, or coach who can hold you accountable. Regularly discuss your progress and challenges with them. This added layer of accountability can significantly bolster your commitment.

Step 8: Continuous Learning

Embrace Growth

The 12 Week Year is not just about achieving goals but also about personal and professional growth. Embrace the learning process, and be open to adapting your methods as you discover what works best for you.

Step 9: Celebrating Success

Acknowledge Your Achievements

At the end of the 12 weeks, take time to celebrate your accomplishments, regardless of how small they may seem. Celebrating success is crucial for building confidence and motivation for the next 12-week cycle.

Some last thoughts on the 12 week year

The 12 Week Year is a powerful method that can revolutionise how you approach goals and manage your time. By focusing on shorter time frames, you create a sense of urgency and clarity that drives productivity and success. Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So, set your vision, plan diligently, and embark on your 12-week journey towards extraordinary achievements!

Further Inspiration: Consider reading “The 12 Week Year” by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington for an in-depth understanding and more comprehensive strategies. This book is not only a guide but also a source of inspiration, providing real-life examples and insights into making the most of every 12-week cycle.

Behaviour and Our Brain, Neuroplasticity

2. The SMART Goals Method

Origin and Purpose: SMART goals, an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound, is a concept that first appeared in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran. This technique ensures that goals are clear and reachable. It is widely known and used almost everywhere. My Behaviour Change Specialisation Training with the National Association of Sports Medicine also taught it.

How It Works: Each goal you set should be:

  • Specific: Well-defined and clear.
  • Measurable: Quantifiable to track progress.
  • Achievable: Realistic and attainable.
  • Relevant: Aligned with broader objectives.
  • Time-bound: Having a clear deadline.

Why It’s Effective: SMART goals provide a structure that helps in breaking down vague aspirations into concrete, achievable steps. By setting realistic and timely objectives, you can stay focused and motivated. This clarity and structure make it more likely for you to reach your goals.

3. The Bullet Journal Method

Origin and Purpose: The Bullet Journal is a customisable and forgiving organisation system created by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer. It serves as a to-do list, diary, notebook, and sketchbook.

How It Works: This method involves daily, monthly, and future logs. Tasks, events, and notes are broken down into short-form bullets. The Bullet Journal is designed to be adapted to your needs – you can include what’s relevant and leave out what’s not, making it highly personalized.

Why It’s Effective: The Bullet Journal method not only helps in planning and tracking tasks but also serves as a mindfulness practice that encourages you to slow down and focus on the present. By manually writing down your goals and tasks, you become more engaged and likely to remember them. This method is especially effective for those who find creative, hands-on planning to be more inspiring and sustaining.

A few Closing Thoughts…

Embarking on a new year with goals and aspirations is super exciting!

Whether it’s the focused intensity of the 12 Week Year, the structured clarity of SMART goals, or the creative flexibility of the Bullet Journal, each of these techniques offers a unique pathway to achieving your dreams. You can use all these planning strategies at the same time, or do some hybrid version of it, or really stick with one system that works for you. Make it your own!

Planning is fun, and the tough part begins by executing the plans we’ve sat for ourselves. It is easy to fall back on previous habits. So make sure to keep yourself accountable. Measure your progress, and check in with yourself on whether your goals still align with your values. If not; Make adjustments. Be flexible. Fall in love with the process.

Remember, the key to success lies in finding a method that resonates with you and aligns with your lifestyle. Here’s to a productive and fulfilling New Year!

P.S.: Don’t forget to take little breaks along the journey. Allow for some Time Off, read here why.

Start by Understanding the Behaviour to achieve a desired change.

Consider exploring books like “The 12 Week Year” by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington, “Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and Business of Life” by David Allen (a pioneer in productivity), and “The Bullet Journal Method” by Ryder Carroll. These reads offer practical advice on how to effectively implement these planning methods. Also, let me know if you found some other systems that changed the way you think, plan, organise or execute.

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