How to Stay Energized

By Dr. Mary Kay

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

When working with people on their leadership skills, it is interesting to notice that they tend to work against their motivational needs.

As a result, they lose motivation and running out of gas. Working with people takes considerable patience. So we need to reverse this trend in order to stay energized and keep the tank full.

We need to work within our needs and motivate ourselves. After all, if we aren’t motivated, how can we motivate others?

Here’s A Cool Motivation Exercise

All of our needs are important and valuable. I’ve come up with a partial list of needs that leaders or team members may have. Think about which ones you relate to the most.

  • Select the Top 2 needs that are most important to you RIGHT NOW.
  • Follow the recommendations for fulfilling your Top 2 needs and see how you can improve your own level of motivation in the next two weeks.

A Need to Achieve

If accomplishment is your primary need, you are motivated by progress. You are looking to build momentum and get things done. However, if this is one of your Top 2 needs, you’re probably accomplishing the opposite. You’re constantly working against this need by thinking about all of the things you haven’t yet accomplished.

Try thinking instead about all the things that have gone right, and stop focusing so much on what’s left to do. Enjoy the ride and avoid inner conflict that results in burnout and operating below your peak level.

During the next two weeks: Make a list of everything you’ve accomplished. Modify your to-do list into an achievement list.

A Need to Create

This need is expressed through your desire to come up with solutions outside of your regular day-to-day activities. You find it very motivating to be a part of a project team and to go in knowing nothing but still be able to offer solutions.

If you’re working against this need, you’re not venturing outside your comfort zone. Staying too rigidly within your limits can make you feel underutilized. The key is to take action. Initiate and ask to venture outside of your own accustomed function.

During the next two weeks: Pursue projects and teams outside your daily work. Actively participate in employee meetings and events and volunteer for special projects.

A Need to Lead

You want to be able to influence teams, and you want more of the spotlight. Being in charge and taking ownership of projects motivates you, and you are first to step up in meetings and start facilitating.

Even as part of a team, you can feel this need. However, if it’s stifled, you can become controlling, overpowering, and aggressive.

Even those who are not in official leadership positions must be allowed to practice some kind of informal leadership. Otherwise, they may become disgruntled and leave the organization.

During the next two weeks: Meet with your manager about ideas that you feel you should pursue and set up opportunities to informally lead. Volunteer to take on more responsibility and projects.

A Need to be Informed

Being in the loop and knowing what’s going on behind the scenes is extremely motivating for you. What really shuts you down is discovering that changes have occurred even though you were not asked for input or told about them in advance. When this need is not met, you burn out. You work against this need by not asking for clarification and not taking the initiative.


During the next two weeks: Determine what you need to know about and ask questions that will get you the information. Get yourself on a distribution list of key topics that are pertinent to your job.

A Need to Advance

If you think that there’s no way for you to advance in the organization, you may be working against this need. Instead, ask yourself what type of people skills you can use to get ahead.


Do you need to work on your patience or communication skills? What technical skills do you need? Working on a plan of action will keep your motivation up.

During the next two weeks: Meet with your manager. Talk about a specific leadership path and a career-development plan. Discuss additional education. What skills need development? What books should you read?

A Need for Independence

“Think time” is one of your major needs. You are constantly around others, and if you don’t get a chance to recharge, you will burn out. Instead of being required to work with others, you prefer self-starter projects, such as writing a training manual or creating a standard operating procedure.

During the next two weeks: Take at least thirty minutes a day for thinking time, planning time, or just reading a book.

A Need to Interact

Those who are motivated by interaction are usually lacking it. This need often occurs when you are working from home. Because of your high affiliation need, if you’re isolated, you aren’t motivated to work. When this need is not met, you are not focused and you’re distracted. This is because you lack the motivation to create the required action.

During the next two weeks: Set up interaction activities, such as conference calls, virtual meetings, or team-related projects. Give yourself social outlets.

A Need for Incentives

In order to be motivated, you need a clear-cut “carrot”—a determined goal. Buying a new car or any other tangible goal motivates you; if you aren’t acquiring something, you get uncomfortable and burn out. When working against this need, you can become comfortably numb and start leaving work early on a regular basis to go to dinner or take weekend vacations.


Crystallize your thoughts and bring your goal more into focus by asking questions such as, “What goal do I want to attain next?” Perhaps the answer will be, “I want to go on a cruise.” The object here is to converse about an event that you can visualize and plan for.

During the next two weeks: Get out a calendar and do some goal-setting. Plan your next vacation or acquisition so that it’s really clear why you’re getting out of bed in the morning.

A Need to Help

If you’re motivated by volunteering and serving others, you have a need to feel that you can share your talents. Sometimes, you may even create a problem so you can solve it! If this need isn’t being met, you can find yourself helping with too many things and spreading yourself too thin. When you have too much going on, you can’t really make a difference, which is the one need that drives you.

During the next two weeks: Narrow down where you can really make a difference. Drop all of your committees and really hone in on the one area where you can see the results of your talents and energies.

A Need for Appreciation

If this is one of your top needs, you often work against it by waiting for someone else to praise you. Part of the problem might be your communication style. If you are a fast-paced “back wheel” communicator, you need public, tangible results.

If you’re the faster-paced “front wheel,” you need public, intangible recognition. As a slower-paced, front-wheel type, you will prefer private, intangible recognition. If you’re a slower-paced, back-wheel communicator, you’ll need private, tangible recognition.

During the next two weeks: Based on your communication style, provide yourself with daily recognition of the type you prefer. Waiting for someone else to appreciate you is not the answer.

How Did it Work Out?

After two weeks, come back to this article and comment on your Motivation Plan in the comment box below. I would enjoy your feedback!

How Do You Stay Energized?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Dr. Mary Kay
Dr. Mary Kay
Dr. Mary Kay is a business leadership strategist, executive coach, trainer, author, and co-founder of the About Leaders community. She’s consulted with hundreds of companies and trained over 30,000 leaders. Her Ultimate Leader Masterclass helps managers become more confident, decisive leaders.
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