Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

Mary’s Weekly Articles and Valuable Tools

Subscribe below and get Dr. Mary Kelly’s
weekly newsletter in your inbox.



5 Ways to Stay Motivated and Focused Over the Holidays

It is the holiday season, and it seems everyone around you is decorating, shopping, traveling for fun, and relaxing.

It is tempting to take your foot off the gas pedal and turn everything off. After all, it is the holidays, and we all need a break.

However, what we do in December is often what sets us up for success in the first quarter of the new year, and perhaps the entire year.   How do you stay motivated on work when you want to enjoy the holidays as well?

Now is a great time to reassess what is really important, and to categorize what needs to happen in the right way.  Once projects are properly categorized, it is easier to get them accomplished.


  1. Redefine your core values. Core values encapsulate what is most important to us. Values such as “provide for my family,” “feel a sense of accomplishment,” and “contribute to my community” help us find direction when we want to take the day off to bake cookies or go fishing. Values, both our own and our organizations’, help us stay motivated towards goals that are part of the bigger picture.


  1. Redirect efforts to focus on your wants. The Great Resignation is often linked to employees wanting something different from what their employers are offering, and not feeling as though they can do what they want in their current capacity. This may be true. What are your career aspirations?  What do you want for your business?  What do you want to accomplish in the part of the business you control?


  1. Remember that the grass isn’t always greener Employees who are leaving their jobs are saying they are underpaid, underappreciated, and overworked.

Is this you?

Is this the people around you?

Is this the people who work for you?

Or is it just the prevailing sentiment that is making you feel like you want to make a change? When your friends are leaving their jobs, it is tempting to join the crowd of the newly unemployed, and the holidays seem like a great time to enjoy the break that quitting your job might bring.   But the grass is not always greener.  If the problem is that you don’t like your house, your city, or career, a change might be in order.  But a new job, location, or career may not be better than what you have now.


  1. Reevaluate our compensation packages and compare apples to apples.

I just worked with an organization where some of the employees told me privately that they believed they were underpaid.

Why did they feel this way?

Because they thought they were comparing their work and salaries with comparable work.  They thought they were comparing apples to apples.

Except they were not.

I tracked down the competitor, and found out that the salaries were 6% lower at my client’s organization, but that the benefits and bonus structures actually meant that my client’s employees were making 19% more.  The problem is that the employees didn’t understand that, because they were only comparing salaries, not the overall benefits, vacation, working hours, and end-of-the year bonuses.

My recommendation was that the leadership and HR team do a better job conveying what they were actually spending on their employees, and to reiterate the benefits and bonus structure as they were handing out bonuses and performance evaluations at the end of the year, so that employees didn’t think about updating their resumes while opening Christmas presents.


  1. Renew the sense of excitement. Take a look at what is changing heading into the new year. Sometimes we feel lethargic about work when work is monotonous. Get the team together and brainstorm about the changes you are likely to face in the new year.  Yes, I know we have been barraged with changes over the past few years, but change is exciting when it is challenging and positive.

Make a list of what is likely to change in the new year, and then strategize about what needs to happen to respond and lead those changes.
If you need ideas about the 6 areas where I see change: People, Resources, Technology, Processes, Entrepreneurship, Sales and Marketing, please visit my white paper, COVID-19 and The Future of American Business.


  1. Reengage with the right people. The people around us play a big role in our success. When it comes to our professional lives, we can be influenced by our peers. If our friends are talking about how happy they are at work, we tend to feel the same way.  If our friends are pessimistic, we are influenced.   To stay positive and focused, seek out like-minded visionaries and entrepreneurs, both at networking events and in casual contexts. Get inspiration and motivation from those in similar situations, who are motivated and inspired to make a difference moving into the future.

1 Comment

  1. Kati Machtley

    Great job Mary! These are important points that we all need to be aware of at this time of year.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Great Resignation. Often the grass looks greener on the other side until you go there. Then it may be too late to go back. Thanks for speaking at the Bryant University Women’s Summit a few years ago. Go Navy!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *