Wednesday, September 29, 2010

12 Weeks Equals 1 Year

Forget about a year. Let's redefine a year. A year is now 12 weeks. No, there are not four periods in a year, that's old thinking. Think about the implications of a 12-week year. The excitement, energy, and focus that happen every December now happen continuously. The year-end push to hit our goals now takes place not once every 12 months, but all the time.

How many bad weekdays can you have in a 12-week year and still hit your goal? And if you can't afford a bad week, then each day of the week automatically becomes more important. Periodization narrows the focus to daily and weekly, which is where execution occurs.

A Period-by period focus keeps us from getting ahead of ourselves and ensures that each week counts.

Commitments are powerful. I’m sure you can recall a time when you were determined to accomplish something meaningful to you, and were willing to do whatever it took to make it happen. I remember back when I was a young boy in fifth grade and how I yearned for a new 10-speed bicycle. Boy, was it a beauty! Metal-flake green paint with racing tires and a black leather saddle! The problem was it was a hundred bucks, which was a lot of money for a ten-year old kid back then. But that didn’t stop me. I had to have that bike. So I did anything and everything I could to earn money. There was nothing that was going to keep me from owning that bike. That’s an example of commitment, a personal promise that you make with yourself. Keeping self-promises builds character, esteem, and success.

We all know intuitively that commitment is fundamental to effective execution and high performance. Any yet many of us fall short of our commitments on a regular basis. It seems that when things get difficult we find “reasons’ to focus on other activities. Often our interest wanes when things get tough. There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you only do it when circumstances permit. But, when you’re commitment to something, you accept no excuses, only results. When we commit to something, we do things that we would not ordinarily do. The question if “if” goes away and the only question is “how”? Commitment is powerful, and yet there are times when all of us struggle to commit.

There are four keys to successful commitment:

  1. STRONG DESIRE – in order to fully commit to something you will need a clear and personally compelling reason. Without a strong desire you will struggle when the implementation gets difficult. With that compelling desire driving you, “insurmountable” obstacles become exciting challenges. In other words, the end result that you are striving to achieve needs to be meaningful enough to get you through the hard times and keep you on track.
  2. CLEAR ACTIONS – Once you have an intense desire to accomplish something, you then need to identify the core actions that will produce the result you’re after. In today’s world, many of us have become spectators, rather than participants. We must remember that it’s what we do that counts. In any endeavour, there are numerous activities to accomplishing an effort. In most cases there are few core activities that account for the majority of the results, and in some cases there is one, perhaps two, primary activities that ultimately produce the result. It is critical that you identify the one or two core actions and focus on them.
  3. COUNT THE COSTS – Commitments require sacrifice. In any effort there are benefits and costs. Too often we claim we desire something without considering the costs. Costs are the hardships that you will have to endure to accomplish your desire. Costs can include time, money, risk, uncertainty, loss of comfort, etc. Identifying the costs allows you to consciously choose whether or not you are willing to pay that price. It is extremely helpful when you are in the middle of one of the costs to recognize that you anticipated this and decided it was all worth it.
  4. ACT ON COMMITMENTS, NOT FEELING – There will be times when you won’t fell like doing the critical activities. We’ve all been there, getting out of bed at 4.30am to jog in the cold can be daunting, especially when you are in a toasty warm bed. It is during these times that you will need to learn to act on your commitments, not your feelings. If not, you will never build momentum and will be continually starting over, or as is so often the case, giving up. Learning to do the things you know you need to do regardless of how you feel is a core discipline for success.
Many times commitments are made more arduous by the time frame in which the commitment is made. It is difficult to commit to anything for a lifetime. Even keeping a promise for an entire year can be challenging. With periodization you are not asked to make lifetime or annual commitments, but rather period commitments. It is much more feasible to establish and keep a 12-week commitment than an annual promise. At the end of the period you reassess your commitment and begin again.

Commitments ultimately shape our lives. Making and keeping commitments starts a constructive process that is self-reinforcing and empowering.

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