Activation energy is the minimum quantity of energy required for a reaction. The activation energy idea shows up every day in our lives in the form of the minimum amount of energy required to build momentum toward what we want/need to do.
Activation energy is why its hard to get to the gym on a cold morning. It is why getting started on something important is painful.
But, for those of us who have (at least on occasion) managed to make it to the gym on a cold morning, we have likely experienced that is easier to work out long and hard once we’re there.
Activation energy, thus, regularly stands between us and desired habits. So, it is worth understanding activation energy and how we can work with it.
Overcoming activation energy requires willpower. In the long run, the best use of willpower is to create habits. Habits, in turn, help us reduce the amount of activation energy required to get something. But, it isn’t easy to create good habits. So, here a couple of interesting questions for us to consider in our quest to do so –
1. What are ways to reduce the activation energy until we create a habit? For example, we could start the year with a commitment to go to the gym with a friend for the first 6 months. Or, perhaps, we might pay for a personal trainer.
2. Are there ways to bypass the friction and still reach the end outcome? A consistent home workout for a month may be a great way to get us into the habit. Once we consistently begin to feel the benefits of a good workout, it becomes to lower the activation energy threshold.
Like most things, activation energy is neither good or bad. It just is. And, our experience with it is what we make of it.