On Getting Started

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Just being able to start is a super-power.

In science, “activation energy” is the effort required to get something going. It applies to just about anything, though.

Even writing these essays requires that I put in a certain amount of non-trivial energy in just getting started … 65 times.

It’s easier to keep doing something than it is to start doing something.¬†Inertia keeps us from starting, but once started, momentum kicks in. Progress continues more easily.

The reason I say it’s a super-power is that lack of activation energy probably dooms more projects than anything else.

It’s something you need to repeat every day. Get up? Activation energy (literally). Make progress on your project? Activation energy.

Write another essay? Activation energy.

Just getting started is often the biggest part of the battle. Once you’re over that hump, the rest comes more easily.

Just today I completed a five-minute project that’d been sitting on my desk for about a month. Five minutes. One month. What was missing? The energy to just get up and do it. FIVE MINUTES.

That’s what makes this concept so very, very weird.

You would think that simple projects would be trivial to start because you’d finish them so quickly, resulting in the dopamine hit of “yay, I finished something!” And yet — getting started remains inexplicably hard.

The more you can do it, the more easily you can just get started, the more you’ll accomplish.

It’s a skill worth paying attention to.

It’s a skill somewhere between “Just do it”, and “Get off your butt.”

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