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My first 12-week year

My first 12-week year

Hot Numbers Coffee

Hot Numbers in Cambridge, where I read most of the book. (photo courtesy: Bex Walton)

This past summer, when we stayed in Cambridge for a month, Ton adopted a new routine after reading a book: thinking in 12 week years. It’s a method developed by Brian Moran and its basic intervention is to set goals to reach within 12 weeks, instead of setting goals for a year. Despite being written in an overly enthusiastic manner (it is an American book after all), this basic idea somehow resonated with both of us. Once back home, I developed a 12 week plan too and set my goals for my ‘first year’.  These are my findings so far.

I set seven goals, such as creating a writing routine around a (probably never to be published) book, taking a walk on a daily basis and delve into some books that I see as being key to my work.  I’ve mixed results on working towards these goals. Some high- and lowlights.

What works:

  • I have definitely created a writing routine. Every week I set myself a goal in amount of pages to write. I chose a number that I could easily reach within one writing session of about two hours (or takes even less time when split into several sessions). Keeping the number within easy reach, really motivated me. Normally, I would set the goals so high that I give up at the first signs of the goal getting out of reach. Currently I’m a bit behind on schedule due to a very persistent cold, keeping me from doing work for two weeks and during those weeks I really missed my writing sessions. A very good sign!
  • I do tend to take walks on a daily basis, although during my illness I really couldn’t. Some days I don’t walk, but at least bike into town. Some days I skip due to general laziness. Oh well…it’s autumn you know. Not the most inviting season to go outside at times
  • I am getting better and better at having balanced working days, with a more steady flow of high concentration work, taking long breaks in between and creating more predictable rhythm. Being a solo entrepreneur offers little dictated rhythm, so I could swing from doing 12 hours of intense video editing for days, to doing nothing specific the next few days. I can tell you now, that is not a healthy routine on the long term.
  • As of yesterday I finally got to update my blog and its template. A few months ago Ton’s website got hacked due to a flaw in the template used. I used a different template, yet from the same developer so I figured I should change templates as well to be on the save side. I was supposed to do this before November first, so I didn’t make my self-imposed deadline, but I did it within my year. That’s the thing that counts most.[/list]

The struggles:

  • In general, knowing what goals to set at the beginning. I don’t really know what I can actually achieve within 12 weeks. Setting goals while being on the recovery route from a burn-out at the beginning of this year, was a complete guess.
  • Therefore I hardly spent time on the biggest goal I set for myself, reading and analyzing some books on storytelling and philosophical methods. I set this goal based on the assumption that I wouldn’t have any significant client work during the rest of the calendar year. Guess what. I actually landed a huge gig with an existing client. So most of my precious high concentration time (I set a maximum of 4 hours per day) was spent on this. Biggest bonus: it pays!
  • falling ill really set me back. Can we just globally ban all viruses? Thank you.
  • I think I would really benefit from taking yoga classes, yet I tried some and I really dislike the process of going there on a scheduled time that never really fits my daily rhythm. Either I need to postpone a meal for two hours leading me to feel nauseous, or it’s too soon after a meal which is not pleasant for exercising. One last resort is a website with lessons you can sign up for.

My first year ends on December 20th, so I still have some time to catch up and reach my yoga and writing goals. Thinking in 12 week years really helps me to set more specific goals to strive for, that are both stretching me a bit yet still achievable. So far it seems especially helpful in giving my creative side enough space to actually be creative. A year is too long to feel an actionable sense today, a month is too short due to life intervening, so I do think 12 weeks hits a sweet spot.

Curious? Order the book from Amazon (links to Kindle version) or visit the website.

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