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Managing Time Manages Dreams

Stop dreaming. Start planning and 'execute' those dreams into reality.

That's the advice of Brian Moran, co- author with Michael Lennington of The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do in 12 Months who claims we can accomplish greatness if we change our view of a year from 52 weeks to 12 weeks.

 "You know that Big Important Thing you want (and maybe desperately need) to do? Maybe it's changing careers, or writing a book, or saving for retirement, or finally building the dream home you've talked about for years," he says. "Ever wondered why you can't seem to just get it done? Your excuse might be that you don't know enough to make it happen. That's bull. Your failure to meet your goals has nothing to do with what you do or don't know-and everything to do with how well you execute."

So why don't people just do it? Moran says you're dropping the "execution ball" for the same reason companies can't meet their goals: You're thinking about time in the wrong way.   "We tend to think we have all the time in the world," says Moran. "Let's say you have a baby and you have all these vague notions about saving for college. Well, before you know it, he's 12 years old and you don't have a penny saved. Quite simply, we don't do what doesn't seem urgent."

Moran and Lennington's new book offers a new way to think about time and how you use it. In a nutshell, plan your goals in 12-week increments rather than 365 day years. When you do so, you're far more likely to feel a healthy sense of urgency that gets you focused. And whether your goal is of the business or personal variety, you'll get far more done in far less time-and you'll feel a lot less stressed and a lot more in control. 

 Following are a few tips on how you can better tackle life's big to-dos quickly:

Envision a future that's worth the pain of change. The number-one thing that you will have to sacrifice to be great, to achieve what you are capable of, and to execute your plans, is your comfort. Therefore, the critical first step to executing well is creating and maintaining a compelling vision of the future that you want even more than you desire your own short-term comfort. Then and only then can you align your shorter-term goals and plans with that long-term vision.

Live with intentional imbalance. Life balance is not about equal time in each area; life balance is more about intentional imbalance. At different times in your life, you will choose to focus on one area over another, and that's perfectly fine, provided it's intentional. Life has different seasons, each with its own set of challenges and blessings. The 12 Week Year is a terrific process to help you live a life of intentional imbalance

Make sure you're committed, not merely interested. When you're merely interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit, but when you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results Kept commitments benefit both parties involved by improving relationships, strengthening integrity, and building self-confidence. Commitments are powerful and, oftentimes, life changing.

Put hard (and short) deadlines on what you need to get done. "The great thing about having a 12 Week Year is that the deadline is always near enough that you never lose sight of it," he adds. "It provides a time horizon that is long enough to get things done, yet short enough to create a sense of urgency and a bias for action."

Write down your plan. It lets you make your mistakes on paper. A "plan" in your head isn't really a plan. It's wishful thinking. That's because life gets in the way, and if you don't have a written plan, you will almost certainly drop the ball in the first few days. But if you sit down at the start of your 12 weeks and write out your strategy, it forces you to think through potential pitfalls up front.

Keep track of your efforts, not your results. Measure your level of execution (the extent to which you stuck to your diet and exercise plan and the number of sales calls you made)."You have greater control over your actions than your results, and your results are created by your actions," explains Moran. 

Advice for 'Mompreneurs'