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Book Review: The 12 Week Year

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Book Review: The 12 Week Year

September 30, 2021

As October approachs I usually start thinking of my New Year resolutions. However, a few months ago I read The 12 Week Year and it changed my thoughts on resolutions. Below are some of my thoughts on this book and how I plan on integrating the lessons learned.


The 12 Week Year

The 12 Week Year is a mindset change where one seeks quarterly goal setting as a solution to the drawbacks of annual resolutions. It’s right there in the title. Take your annual New Year resolutions and break them down into 4 “12 week years” to give a larger sense of urgency to your goals. I have had my fair share of failures among my New Year resolutions, so this book spoke to my issues! When you break your goals down to 12 weeks, you don’t have the ability to become complacent with your goals. Time is short; you need to constantly work on completing your goals in the given 12 weeks. We’ve all been there, we set our New Year resolutions and then forget about them until October. You race to complete some of them, but also realize that many of those resolutions were scoped impossibly large. You have destined yourself for failure. But when you scope your goals to 12 weeks, every passing day creates a sense of urgency to complete what you’ve set out to do.

You might be saying that The 12 Week Year sounds terrible. Adding urgency to your goals, in a way The 12 Week Year implies, could definitely cause panic. But I do not think that is the intention. The idea of The 12 Week Year is to rewire your goal setting process; make goals that you can accomplish in 12 weeks. Instead of making a goal to work out 5 days a week for a year, make a goal to work out 3 days a week for 12 weeks. This will allow you to feel successful, and will allow you to rebalance your goals after the first 12 week cycle. If you work out 3 days a week in your first 12 week cycle, you can think about 4 days a week for the next cycle. Not only does this keep your motivation up since your first 12 week cycle is attainable, but it also allows you to micro-adjust your goals throughout the year. It’s a win-win scenario!

I also find that the book’s ideas of condensing time very helpful. In a 12 week year cycle your time is condensed. In relation to normal New Year resolutions, in a 12 week year each day feels like a week, and each week feels like a month. You need a plan to finish your 12 week year. This idea of needing a plan is fascinating to me. I am a natural procrastinator. It also alines with the way I work as a software engineer. I can think of these 12 week cycles as “sprints” in a way, which opens them up to retrospectives and planning. I am excited to start my first 12 week cycle tomorrow October 1st.

Take Aways

After reading The 12 Week Year, I had some take-aways I want to incorporate into my life.

  1. I am going to adopt the 12 week year cycle for goals. I have failed miserably at previous New Year resolutions, so I am excited to try!
  2. Make sure your goals within the 12 week cycle are not overly ambitious. It’s easy to overlook this and create an heightened sense of urgency.
  3. I need to figure out a way to track goals better. With the shorter cycle of 12 weeks, the book recommends “rigorous review” of your goals. This is something I will need to implement.
  4. If you are in the software development field, this goal setting process should be familiar and comforting to you.


I would recommend this book! There’s some hate for the actual book on the internet, but I’d recommend you looking past it. The points of this book “could have been a blog post”, but that is not the idea of self-help books. They need to be repetitive to get the points across and get the readers excited for them. Try it out, stop when you have had enough and most of all, try out a 12 week year!