Activation Energy. What do you want to activate?


One of the most important ideas in “The Happiness Advantage” is the idea of Activation Energy. The goal is to reduce the amount of energy it takes to do the right thing and increase the amount of energy it takes to do the wrong thing. Simple as that, but how do you really do it?

Choose what you want to do. The key to developing any change or progress is to identify the thing you want; the way you want things to be. Write down you goal. It might be to quit smoking, make more sales calls or follow a stricter spray schedule and reporting plan. Whatever it is, write down the ultimate goal.

Example: I want to have easy reporting with my fruit buyers by having all my spray schedules up to date right when I need them. 

Choose what you no longer wish to do. Write down what you reject. I hate having my spray schedules and information missing, incomplete or disorganized. It makes me so mad I could spit!

Change the activation energy for your goal. You need to purposely reduce the energy it takes to do the right thing. Often this is as simple as developing a system that can basically run itself. You could printout the most likely sprays you will apply with blanks below so all you have to do is fill in the date you apply them. Make it as easy as circling what you applied and writing the date. Then, add a clipboard with a compartment to your spray shed to hold all the information. Add one day on your calendar per month where you do nothing but spray schedule organization from 3pm-5pm on a Thursday afternoon.

Increase the energy it takes to do things wrong. Label the loading dock and tractor cab with a P-Touch machine reminding you to fill in the paperwork. Ask your field consultant to check your docs when they arrive, so you will be letting someone else down if you fail to do your organizing.

Do you see the structure? What could you reorganize to reduce the activation energy for good?

Practical examples:
Want to give up your Crackberry? Plug it in to charge in your car, locked in the garage at 6PM when you get home.

Want to workout in the morning? Set out your shoes, preload the DVD and fill a water bottle.

Want to make more calls? Take a morning to organize your list, set up your post voicemail emails, script what you want to say, so you can just fire away without thinking.

Want to get to the farmer’s market earlier? Preload the truck the night before, or at least preload the pallet, so you roll in and roll out without a hassle.

How about on the negative side? How can you increase the effort to make the wrong moves during your day?

Want to lose weight? Pack a lunch and elimate unhealthy snacks in the office – pack a water bottle!

Want to quit smoking? Stop hanging out with smokers (and utilize other more medical means as directed by your doctor to replace the social and phsyical responses to “smoke time”)

Want to avoid distractions? Make your email check for new messages only once an hour.  Put your phone on Do Not Disturb for 2 hours while you work on an important project. 

Want to stop thinking so hard when you go to the store? Make a shopping list of your most often purchased 40 items, by aisle, and hit “PRINT”. Don’t even waste your brain on the things that don’t take brain power. 

Did you know that making lists is the original activation energy technique? If you write out what you have to do you don’t have to keep thinking to remember it. It’s very easy to get started.

The question is what do you want to activate? What do you want to suppress?

Think about it and have a great week.

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