Activation Energy

Activation Energy

Activation Energy describes the initial physical/emotional energy required to begin any activity that you want to engage in.

  • Knowing that starting anything takes some level of activation energy allows us not to be discouraged when we find ourselves stuck starting something… We know that we need to find a suitable form and degree of activation energy in order to begin.
  • Activation Energy is necessary for all of us to survive and to thrive. Cultivating its skillful use brings profound changes in our productivity and effectiveness.
  • Allows us to move forward into activities and relationships that are important to us and to others.
  • Allows us to move toward engaging and participating in life rather than feeling overwhelmed and not in control

I just can’t get fired up to take action!

We do not expect matches to light on their own. It requires grabbing one and adding energy – usually as “striking” the match against something with the right kind of friction – to cause it to start burning.


Once burning, a single match can light many other materials and easily light other matches from its flame.

Yet, we expect to be “fired up” when we’re not moving any energy yet!

Resistance… is natural. We’re designed to conserve energy!

Still, we’ll flail around accusing ourselves of procrastinating when, all too often, we’ve not put in the Activation Energy necessary to get our inner fire going.

It’s often the first tiny action that gets the energy moving.

  • Is there a thought that moves you to take action…even a tiny, first action?
  • If you are ‘stuck’ on the couch, you might try moving just one finger… slowly, easily… then notice how that simple movement might change the feeling of ‘stuck’… and notice how other parts of you may feel more activation energy.
  • Change your posture.
  • Stand up.
  • Strike a match and light a candle. (Seriously. Something to change the energy of your space and light up your awareness.)

I Don’t FEEL Like It!

Of course not! You’re not activated yet!

We’re human beings. Our state of being rules. If we’re resting, it can even feel like we don’t want to… do something we know we’d enjoy! Isn’t that weird?

We don’t think so because this concept of activation energy says that to go from resting to walking… requires energy. To go from watching TV to writing an email… requires a different energy. To go from doing the accounting to writing a story… you got it! Another type of energy – another state of being.

It’s a real skill to recognize the state of being we’re in. With that awareness, we can ask ourselves to tune to a state of being that is a better fit for what we would like to do (or would find relief from having done).

It’s easy to see this with kids when they are told it is time to go to bed, and they are clearly tired. But they have been running around. Switching to bedtime mode means activating a downshift.

Not all activation energy fires us up! We activate our rest and digest cycle in order to sleep. No matter how we’re shifting – up in energy expended or down – requires an activation within us.

The more savvy we get with consciously activating the matching state of being, the “I don’t feel like it” morphs into “I’m activating the energy to match up with that.”

Useful Questions

  • “If I’m feeling overwhelmed by the thought of beginning something, is there a ‘baby step’ I can take that will generate some beginning momentum…?”

  • “What is a first step I can take that feels doable and also significant and meaningful in moving me toward my desired outcome?”

  • “What is the smallest/easiest step I can take that will move me in the direction I wish to go?”


Related Concepts

Resistance, Inspired Action

Contributors: @Glenn @Rick

We invite you to share your experiences and wisdom:

  • Life examples where this concept has played a role
  • Other useful questions
  • Links to audios, videos, books, and courses that add to our shared understanding of this concept.
  • Memes, quotes, and inspiring images
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Thanks Rick…I’m glad that I was able to contribute… :slight_smile:

Added I Don’t Feel Like It example.

It feels quite imperfect, and yet it’s addition tonight fits exactly what I am saying.

  • I didn’t feel like writing tonight.
  • Knowing about activation energy, I focused on tuning myself into one of my “writer mode” – the soft, willing to show up version.

I let myself off the hook (tap tap) that the “super clear well-rested version” was not happening. Sometimes we just don’t have the flavor of activation energy to be in one state of being, but do have the energy to be in another compatible state.

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Good example of using this concept! :slight_smile:

Our external environment can support (make easier) or restrict (make more challenging) to invoke activation energy.

It’s harder to light a match in the wind and rain – but not impossible.

Tune your environment (and Better Boundaries) to allow for activation energy to be generated and focused.

I like that development of the metaphor to include wind and rain…environmental conditions are seldom perfectly supportive of what we desire to undertake. Sometimes a journey is stalled while waiting for the weather to turn more favourable…so the winds propel the ship in the direction we wish to travel rather than sink it.
It seems to me that all our endeavors will be some kind of a dynamic interplay between resources (external environment) and resourcefulness (internal environment).

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