Extroverts need connection to sustain their energy.
If you’re an extrovert who has gone two weeks without connection, you might be feeling drained without knowing why. Acknowledging that connections stimulate you is a great first step to becoming intentional in bringing these into your life. My personal philosophy is to go out and seek the sense of connection that feeds my openness to new people and experiences.
Look at the different networks you’re a part of, be it at work or in your personal life. You could be involved in a community around sports or volunteering, or single out specific people in your circle that fuel or inspire you. Once you’ve identified these communities, schedule time across the week where you will connect with these various communities over your shared interests. In an average week, for instance, I will schedule between five and ten different “connection” activities that will keep me invigorated. This could even be attending a networking event for work, where I look forward to meeting people and learning from others!
Now even just reading that, you might wonder if this level of intensity - constantly moving from engagement to engagement - would actually tire you out over time. Not if you do it the right way.
Find opportunities, between the various meetings you schedule, to pause and reflect. Slow down and think about what you’ve learned from that experience or interaction, or what came out of it. So if you took a very interesting class, instead of immediately rushing off to the next thing, make sure you’re giving yourself this introspective moment. That way, you’ll gain the full benefits of the experience you’ve had. Practice this mindfully and eventually, it will become a valuable habit, and will accelerate your learning.
If you fail to reflect, you risk getting overwhelmed by the jumble of thoughts and ideas in your mind. The good news is that you can involve others in reflection as well. When relevant, gather your team and conduct a group reflection session, where you can pause together, think about what you have learned, and how you can apply these insights to your processes in the future.
Extroverts tend to have an unusual focus on work, and often find it challenging to separate their personal life from their work life.
If you identify with that statement, there is also the risk that you feel drained as your brain is constantly “on”. Build in time where your mind can disconnect. I, for instance, play sports five or six times a week. I find that sports allow to focus and calm my mind, while shutting out other thoughts or stress triggers. In that sense, you’re able to “turn off” your work brain, challenge your body, have fun, and perhaps even try something new!
The other plus to playing a sport is that it’s actually another avenue for you to connect with others and satisfy your sociability. So while you’re getting your time to mentally decompress, you’re also fulfilling your emotional need for connection as an extrovert.
Because extroverts tend to deep dive into the activity they’re involved in at that moment – especially if the said activity involves working with other people – we tend to get consumed by it. As a result, we neglect our physical and mental calls for rest and relaxation. You’ll obviously end up feeling exhausted as a result. And mind you, extroverts aren’t easily tired!
Most extroverts tend to enjoy being busy, and when they’re in a flow of getting things done, they’ll have gone a whole day without talking to anyone. While it may be very productive to work on your own for a while, you may find that the lack of interaction for too long may leave you feeling depleted. If you resonate with this, you’ll need to think about scheduling breaks into your calendar, so you’re reminded to get up, take a stroll, give someone a call, or have a short chat with someone who is around. While you’ll always have deliverables that need your attention, don’t get sucked into any given activity for too long. Certainly don’t go for hours and hours without talking to people as your eagerness to talk things out will not be fulfilled.
And if you catch yourself being too immersed in a task for a long period of time, stop. I have designed a sign on my desk that reads: “Slow down, to go faster”. This doesn’t have to just be a work-related activity. When you walk away from what you’re doing, you’re giving your mind the chance to rejuvenate. Take a walk by yourself or with someone, listen to music, or do anything else that puts you in a calm state of mind. Learning to pause and reset by changing your focus will help you stay pumped through your day.
The constant flow of meetings, interviews, teamwork, social engagements, presentations, team sports are places where extroverts can thrive. However when you are always moving from one interest to another, recharging is crucial. Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and for extroverts, pacing our energy requires intentional effort. Remembering the WHY can help. In reflecting on the purpose of your work and efforts, you can find renewed stamina. This will also help distinguish the activities meaningful to you from those that are merely noise.
Another area that extroverts at times overlook is sleep. Being aware of your need for sleep and how to pace your week to keep your energy levels high. I recently met an extrovert, for example, who discovered that taking two nights "off" per week from any social engagements allows him to renew effectively.
Extroverts have a breadth of interests and are naturally curious to explore. We also tend to act quickly, and to act before thinking, in an ACT-think-ACT pattern. A great tool to manage your impulse to constantly be doing new things is to create space between your desire to take action and your response. Turning your tongue in your mouth seven times (literally!), or making the time to pause and assess your priorities is very useful in deciding to engage or not.
Another tool is to learn to say no. Every experience is not a good idea, and at times, it may be wiser to decline an opportunity rather than run yourself too thin. Extroverts also tend to value breadth over depth, and it is valuable to explore how going deeper in certain areas can bring fulfilment and extraordinary value to your work. As such, you can single out a few areas of your life where you chose to engage in very thoroughly, thus developing depth of knowledge or expertise.
Another hack to prevent feeling drained is to avoid giving in to the pressure of creating the energy within the group. Extroverts often enjoy or feel compelled to be the life of the party, and at times it can be relaxing to take a step back, and spend more time listening, observing or engaging in meaningful one-on-one conversations.
To view the full content, sign up for a free account and unlock 3 free podcasts, power reads or videos every month.
Former Retail Store Leader