Mental FitnessPodcast

You need to say no and use essentialism to perform better. Here’s how.


In this post, you’ll learn how to say no more, use essentialism and apply the 80.20 principle to your endurance sports training.

The end results will serve as a gateway to living a more intentional life through your habits, sensory diet, and self-accountability.

“Many of our problems and concerns, whether they have to do with health/fitness, careers, or relationship, can be fixed with the help of simple exercises that, when repeated over again, streamline productivity and efficacy. “

James Clear

When you think about it, endurance sports are a direct metaphor for life. Same, Same. We all want to get a faster race time, obtain that summer beach body, and/or make more money. I’ve found through my own research, trial, and error that a focused and intentional plan to your health and fitness is the best way to get results.

I’ve been using the frameworks of essentialism and the 80.20 principle to do this. Like the very best things in life, it’s quite simple in theory but long and hard work to do. (The hard work is a great thing – that means you form habits and create systems, which you can read more about here)

As with most things, to fully understand those two concepts, let’s get a baseline definition of wtf I’m talking about with essentialism and the 80.20 principle.

Beautiful Book Summary by Doug Neil from Verbal to Visual

1. What is Essentialism?

My definition is mostly based and built on the shoulders of giants past. It’s from the book and concept of Greg Mckeown – “Essentialism”. This is based on two core fundamentals;

  • A. For everything you say “yes” to, you will have to say “no” to a lot of other stuff
  • B. How to identify and use the tools and tactics of determining what to actually say yes to

The first is pretty self-explanatory. Every time you say yes to something you will then have to say no to all the other stuff. Again, easy to understand, difficult to execute in real life.

A real-world fitness example of Part A:

Energetic Endurance Athlete: “Hey Daren, a group of us are doing a triathlon that is a 4-hour drive away (each way). Want to do it with us?
Me: “Sure I’ll do the super sprint distance triathlon (Total race time 25 minutes). Plus stay in a hotel and give up my whole weekend. It’s 3 months out, and right now that sounds like fun.”

Yes, that was me in 2016. That would have been great if this super sprint distance race was my main “A Race” of the season. But, during 2015 and 2016 I was focused on completing an Ironman Triathlon. Not to mention I was changing jobs/having a career crisis, going through 2 big relationship changes and moving across the world three times in 8 months.

The race jammed up my previous week, weekend, and the week after. It was an absolute time waster. Not to mention the cost of my energy and money that I didn’t have budgeted towards this race as my main focus was the Ironman triathlon. Lessons learned a hard way.

Don’t be like the 2016 Daren. Be essential and just say no!

Part B is interesting. As stated by book summary guru Doug Neil from Verbal To Visual, “As you work to answer that question (with the help of the ideas that follow), keep in mind that not all effort is created equal. Certain types of efforts yield more results than others. What you’re on the lookout for are the best places to put your effort, the best ‘yes’– the tasks and the projects that you can take on that will yield the greatest results.”

This leads perfectly into the next concept that I use in my coaching, mentoring, and own training over the past few years – The 80.20 Principle/Pareto Law.

(Side Note – Please read the book Essentialism if you are interested in these ideas. This new frame allows me to question and analyze many opportunities in my life.)

2. What is the 80.20 Principle/Pareto Law? 

Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian engineer and economist who in 1906 was the first to discover that many things in life follow what we now call the Pareto Principle. In simple terms, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. 

Zooming in with a career-focused lens, business managers know that, in many businesses, 80% of the sales come from 20% of the clients.  Which makes sense, if you have a few big customers, they can be responsible for a lot of your sales.

Put another way, the Pareto Law also means that 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort.

Let’s change this to an endurance sports lens to better understand it in context

In his books, endurance sport author and sub-elite athlete Matt Fitzgerald consistently speak about Pareto Law in regards to endurance training. He states via studies and his own experience, that you can obtain significant fitness gains by doing 80% of your training volume at low intensity and 20% at high intensity.

Interested and ready to find out how this all applies to endurance sports, life, and your overall mental wellness? Great.

Transition over to Part 2 which explains the 3 pillars. Then swim on over to Part 3, pedal towards Part 4 (full sensory diet), and run sprint finish here on the last one, Part 5 (self-accountability), Those should give you a clear picture of what I’m offering and give you the wholistic-no-bullshit transformation that you’ve been looking for.

A few coaching slots open up every few months and right now I am offering one on one coaching sessions for a limited time and only have a few slots!

Email me – to say hello and find out more.