I like to keep fit and keep the weight off and I also like to do well in business, earn money and achieve adventurous challenges but, despite setting lofty goals, I frequently don’t achieve what I originally set out to do.

Run the West Highland Way in 24 hours

In 2003 I told everyone who would listen I was going to run the West Highland Way in 24 hours. More recently I said I was going to sell my car and only use bikes and public transport as an environmental commitment. I also said last year I was going to get 1 new client a month for the next 12 months…it didn’t happen.

I think I know the fundamental issue.

They are just too big. Well intentioned, but just too much.

Minimum Effective Dose Principle

Two years ago I head the phrase “minimum effective dose”. In pharmacology this is defined as the smallest dose that will produce the desired outcome.

I thought to myself; “What do I actually want?” I want to stay mobile and active I want to be financially comfortable; I want to be the best version of myself and to help others do the same through me delivering meaningful work.

the smallest dose that will produce the desired outcome.

The problem of ‘over aim’

Perhaps it was the over aim that was stopping me getting anywhere.

I decided to employ the minimum effective dose principle. What could I do regularly which wasn’t too much? I committed to running one mile a day. And now I do that every day.

In business, I focus on the clients I have rather than constantly searching for the next new opportunity. In other aspects I do whatever is the minimum effective dose to get a result and slowly but surely the changes happen.

I’m going to tell people what I think

Working with a coaching client last month we were discussing ‘execution’, she set an intention to be more assertive and say no more often. She declared “In all my meetings, from now on, I am going to assert myself, to tell people what I think and say NO when I disagree.”

It was quite a claim and I my alarm bells started ringing.

“What could be one conversation, one moment where you could practice saying no?”

She mentioned how her brother was often asking her to mind his kids whilst he went for a run, it was often inconvenient. She’s always said yes.

“1 in 3” saying NO challenge

She decided she was going to set herself a “1 in 3” ‘saying no’ target.

She would say a polite ”no” 1 in every 3 times he asked.

I heard yesterday she had actually had a heartfelt conversation with her brother and they had worked out a much more respectful arrangement; prompted by her very first ‘no’. 

Throughout our 9D coaching sessions, I insist on clients making commitments and introduce the minimum effective dose principle as they declare what they are going to do. I would rather one-minute of committed practice or intention than 30 minutes of declaration which is not carried through long-term.  

By the way, in 2003 I did have a go at the West Highland Way – I didn’t manage the full 96 miles but got to Kingshouse Hotel which is 72 miles from the start in Milngavie, Glasgow. I am pretty happy with that.