Navigating Your Core Needs

10 Tips for Sustainable Energy and Satisfaction in Your Life and Work

1. The Top Ten and Core Needs Make the Invisible Visible

Your Top Ten and Core Needs panels provide you with insight about the nature of experiences that give you positive energies. Think of these as your personal Core Needs. Your list of Core Needs gives the important criteria for you to feel engaged, happy, satisfied, and productive.

2. Think of Them as “Gas Tanks”

Each of the items on your Core Needs panel represent essential experiences you need in your work and life. They are the personal ‘gas tanks’ that power you. While few people have all of their Core Needs fulfilled 100% all the time, you must have some “gas” in each of the tanks for you to operate. One “empty tank” will negatively impact your mood and energy regardless of the levels of satisfaction with each of your other Core Needs.

3. Believe in Meeting Your Core Needs

Examine your beliefs about getting your own needs met. Do you carry positive beliefs that support you in advocating for or arranging to meet your needs. Thoughts such as “I deserve it” or “I can do anything I put my mind to” lend positive support in your efforts to find what works for you.

Do you perhaps hold some beliefs that make getting your needs met a more challenging endeavor. Examples include, “No one gets everything they want” or “It is selfish to think of my own needs.” Sometimes these are hidden in the background or were formed long ago, perhaps in childhood. Intentionally use the beliefs that work and challenge the ones that do not.

4. Make Decisions Based on Your Core Needs

Are you wrestling with a decision? Are you unable to decide between several options? Your Core Needs list serves as a checklist of the criteria you can use to evaluate almost every decision. Ask yourself, “If I choose this option, how well will each of the Core Needs on this list be met?” If the answer is “Not very well” then you can expect to be drained by pursuing that option. You can still elect that choice, but have New Activities ready to “fill up your tanks.”

5. Core Needs Make You Distinctive, Not Needy

You may have six or seven Core Needs. Or, you may have 15 or 20. It is just your personal makeup. The combination of your Core Needs makes you unique and reflects the complexity of being human (including Core Needs that may seem in opposition to one another). If you have more Core Needs, you have experienced this complexity and you probably think, “Gosh, I’m so needy!” You likely think this because you have gotten that feedback from others. Remember, “needy” is just another person’s opinion of your Core Needs. Relax, you are distinctive!

6. Pinpoint Why Sometimes You May Not Be Feeling So Awesome

On those days where you feel anxious, upset, or just “not yourself” and you are not clear why, turn to your Core Needs list. Ask yourself, “In this moment, which of my Core Needs are not being met.” You will quickly pinpoint the source of your feelings and can then work intentionally to turn them around (hint – use New Activities).

7. Shift Your Energy with New Activities

Whenever you have Core Needs that are not well met, your energy dips (or worse case, you burn out). You can actively keep your energy positive and flowing by using New Activities. A New Activity is anything you do, work or non-work, that replicates the same feeling you got from your Top Ten item. The activity can be something very different than the original. For example, the feeling of exploration and new experiences that hiking in South America gave you might be quickly replicated by investigating and trying a restaurant with a new cuisine this weekend. Your internal system does not distinguish whether an activity is from your work or non-work life. It just experiences that positive energy. So if things at work are not filling your “gas tanks,” do something in your non-work life that provides that energy. Ask yourself, “What is something I can do today or tomorrow that will give me the same feeling of independence that my college years did?” Then do it. Your system will be happy you did.

8. Use Inquiry to Learn and Advocate

Ask good probing questions to uncover how well your needs will be met in a situation – with your manager, your colleagues, your team, and your friends. Be a detective. Asking a great question like “What opportunities are there to use new and different approaches?” will reveal whether your needs for creativity and innovation will be welcomed or stifled. Be prepared with a list of probing questions.

9. Be Confident in Your Career Direction

As you approach your next career steps, create a strategy to determine is your Core Needs will be met in your next step on three levels: organization (or team), role and manager. You need all three – two out of three won’t work. Imagine how you would feel in a great company with a great job but a terrible boss. If you are thinking about changing roles, organizations or even fields, do your due diligence by learning enough about the situation to make this three-way assessment. Plan questions, do informational interviews and probe for details that will help you honor your Core Needs. Even if a career opportunity is new for you, you can feel confident that it will work for you if it aligns on all three levels.

10. Keep Exploring

As time progresses, you may find that the way you met a certain Core Need does not seem to fill the bill any more. Your Core Need for freedom and independence does not go away when you start a family. You will need to find a different way to get those needs met than when you were on your own. Keep challenging and evolving your strategies to maintain your energy and excitement throughout your life.