The Domino Effect

The Domino Effect

Recently I have been reading a book called ‘The One Thing’ – I’d highly recommend it as it’s such an easy read. One of the concepts in the book is; when focusing towards your main goal, your ‘one thing’, you should look at the Domino Effect of each task, no matter how small it might be. The theory is, knock down one domino, and this will knock the next one down, and the next one, and so on…  One domino can even knock down another domino that is 1.5x its size, so that over time you start with a small task, and this leads to the next slightly bigger task, and the next one even bigger.


Now what this means, especially at this time of year, is that we are typically setting goals, big goals, and this can become overwhelming once it comes time to take action.  But, if you can chunk the big goal down into a series of tasks which each lead on to the next, and all ultimately lead towards the big goal, it makes it much more manageable and realistic to start with the smaller tasks.  It also helps you see how these small action steps are important and will lead to the outcome; and not skipping too far ahead to where it isn’t achievable.


For example, I have had a goal of mastering Olympic lifting, which is a complex skill and requires a few attributes.  If I skip straight ahead into trying to master it without breaking it down into movements and skills required to perform the ultimate movement, I never really get the outcome I am wanting (believe me – I’ve done it a few times!).  However, if I break it down into smaller tasks, all of which lead into the next, I will be able to master the skill much faster.


An example for clients who may want to lose fat, as it can become overwhelming if we throw everything to you at once:

  • Clean up your diet;
  • Ditch the junk food;
  • Ditch the drinking; then
  • Start training more intensely, more often.


If it is broken down into chunks, it will:


  1. Make the goal more manageable/achievable


  1. Give short term focus to the long term vision, something to focus on and not lose sight of what you want to achieve


  1. Help the mindset and motivate you to know that there is progression (“Once this is done, I move on to the next one…”)


  1. Help build the habit, and once mastered, you can add another bit on, witheach bit becoming habit and part of your daily routine – no longer something that is a stress.


Often with clients, we begin with the following:


  1. Start tracking your food – get used to seeing how many calories you have daily and where it is coming from – this helps create a good habit to build on later


  1. Work towards a calorie target – once you are able to track your food consistently, you can start looking at how to plan your day for a calorie target, maybe reducing daily calories slightly (or even increasing them)


  1. Increase fibre – more fruit and vegetables in a nutshell (this could be nutrition goal for one week, as you master how to add this into your daily food)


  1. Once Fibre is mastered, then you can look to add more Protein to your diet, and hit a daily protein target to maintain muscle


Now this might take 2-6 weeks (or even longer) to achieve, but once it is you will have built a habit that is sustainable, resulting in ongoing progress.  Sometimes when broken down it looks like it will take much longer to achieve than simply goaling towards and aiming for the end result – but trust me, it will lead to faster and longer lasting results!

Chris Teasdale

Chris Teasdale is an Exercise & Rehab Scientist, having worked with soldier rehabilitation in the UK. Chris specialises in rehabilitation and strength & conditioning, as well as managing the Ladie Personal Training Program at EnhanceHQ Newstead.