Having just turned a BIG birthday, I’ve been thinking hard about what fuels me, and what I pursue that is not powered by good strong fuel, that lacks clear energy and hence is way harder than it needs to be. Fuel to me equals meaning, as well as pleasure. Sometimes what I think is fuel, is really not; it’s shoulds (what I think I should be doing) or just…old habit (this is how I’ve always done it…)
Taking stock is useful; it’s a simple process that you can do throughout your day:
Notice what is energizing and what is not
AND if possible,
shift what fuels the tasks you need to do but don’t like
—and hence, don’t have much fuel for —
by reframing their meaning and endpoint.
The great Seth Godin recently, synchronously, published a partial list of fuels, narratives light and dark that can serve as fuel to push us to do work that others might walk away from…They all work. Some of them leave you wrecked, some create an environment of possibility and connection and joy. Up to you.
Avoidance of shame (do this work or you’ll be seen as a fraud/loser/outcast)
Becoming a better version of yourself
Big dreams (because you can see it/feel it/taste it)
Catastrophe (or the world as we know it will end)
Competition (someone is gaining on you)
Compliance (the boss/contract says I have to, and even better, there’s a deadline)
Connection (because others will join in)
Creative itch (the voice inside of you wants to be expressed)
Dissatisfaction (because it’s not good enough as it is)
Engineer (because there’s a problem to be solved)
Fame (imagining life is better on the other side)
Generosity (because it’s a chance to contribute)
It’s a living (pay the writer)
Peer pressure (the reunion is coming up)
Possibility (because we can, and it’ll be neat to see how it works in the world)
Professionalism (because it’s what we do)
Revenge (you’ll show the naysayers)
Selection (to get in, win the prize, be chosen)
Unhappiness (because the only glimmer of happiness comes from the next win, after all, we’re not good enough as is)
I would add other fuels to Godin’s list as well. Certain foods FUEL me, and certain make me weak. Some people fuel me, some leave me exhausted. Some physical spaces energize me, others leave me depleted…
So the question is, what are the fuels that create an environment of possibility and connection and joy?
…And which ones do I need to let go of?