With autumn around the corner, I know it’s time for a reckoning on my annual goals.
In years past, I’ve used Labor Day as my unofficial line in the sand. Whatever hadn’t been achieved by then needed to be revisited, restrategized or possibly released back into the growing pool of goals imagined but not realized. This bittersweet process lets me focus renewed energy on the remaining goals, even while creating a tug in my heart for the one that got away — the great idea that I couldn’t find the time or resources for.
This year, as I was pondering my catch-and-release list, a timely notice crossed my desk for “The 12 Week Year,” a book by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington (Wiley, 2013, $23). The authors’ basic premise is that we err in setting goals on a 12-month cycle because we lose focus and fail to set realistic action steps. Hmmm. I think I resemble those remarks.
To correct course, Moran and Lennington recommend mentally shifting from a traditional year to a series of 12-week “years.” What interests me about this idea is the possibility of gaining fresh momentum on new goal sets every three months, while pushing myself to maintain a more consistent — and higher — level of focus overall. Somehow it seems easier to imagine a sustained effort when I know the duration will be limited to 12 weeks.
That said, I do like my time off. Unscheduled days, even if I’m at work, are a treat that I savor. So I’m going to try a modified version of the 12-week plan, with a push on a selected group of goals for September, October and November, followed by a December that is unfettered by the expectation of achievement. That puts me in good position for January, just in time for a new round of goal-setting.
Have you been wondering what all this has to do with job search? Oddly enough, given my recent sense of discovery about using 12-week modules in my own life, the concept is old hat in my work with job seekers. Through coaching and observation, I’ve learned that this is just about the perfect time frame to develop and implement a job search plan that is driven by results rather than process.
To say it more plainly (and invite the wrath of frustrated job seekers): I believe one can — and should — plan and implement a job search that bears results in 12 weeks. Results in this case meaning offers.
Past columns on this topic tell me that I hit a sore spot when I make this assertion, but that isn’t my intention. I have no interest in “blaming the victim” or implying that job seekers are milking the situation to collect their unemployment checks. In my experience, most people just want to get a job, go to work and live their lives.
But we’ve had what I’d call a perfect storm in the world of job search over the past few years, where the dominance of online search processes has intersected with a host of factors, including global competition for jobs, the replacement of human workers with technological processes, large groups of displaced midcareer workers, and of course, the recession, which brought with it unprecedented extensions of unemployment assistance while also likely changing the employer-employee relationship forever.
I could do a column on each of those factors, but it wouldn’t change my basic observation and premise: Regardless of the situation that brought us to this point, too many people are still marooned in endless loops of unproductive job search process instead of results-driven action steps.
Next week, I’ll review the steps that can put you in position to field offers before Christmas. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about “The 12 Week Year,” or shop for online products offered by the authors, you can go to www.12weekyear.com. I can’t speak to the value of purchasing their online tools as I didn’t download any products, but their free online tour of the system did provide enough useful information to get started.
Amy Lindgren owns Prototype Career Service, a career consulting firm in St. Paul, Minn. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 626 Armstrong Ave., St. Paul, MN 55102.