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 fuelsnarratives 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…

Shaan Syed/Ana Cristea Gallery

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?

…And then,

How can I generate/find/use more of THOSE fuels?

Ugo Mulas

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5 replies on “Finding Your Fuel

  1. Several years ago (whenever possible) I began to make choices based on the amount of life energy an activity, event, or even time with individuals would “cost” me. This “Finding Fuel” approach refines the process & is an even better way to navigate the days & years…


  2. I believe,
    of the major religions preach:
    ,,.and it comes back.

    It’s a pretty calculative motivation,..
    for one living sö near to Wall Street(!). ?

    But looking back in my Life,
    when i just ‘gave it away’,..
    when it was something i loved doing(!),

    i’ve probably gained ten pounds,
    in the last twenty years. ?
    (or,..20, in the last 10!)

    Sounds sö easy,…
    sö hard to do,..
    ,but when it happens,..
    there ain’t nothing better.

    I wish us all,..luck.

  3. Nice to think we can find the things that get us going…The power we have to make our lives satisfying…

    We have the tools we need, we need to be remindied or do we…can we say,I have power I have power to create, I am not dependent, waiting…I can do something….

  4. Such an interesting subject Gallagher: give and it comes back tenfold. Also known as “cast your bread upon the waters”. I’ve always found it to be true, but found that despite that, I lose faith in this power and retreat to fear. Over years I’ve developed ways to not indulge that fear and REMEMBER decades of experiencing just what you say. Which is the creative life.


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