Some people spend a lifetime trying to figure out who they are and where they are going in life while others achieve self-actualization early on, gaining insight into who they are and where it is they want to be. Very few people take the time focus on their self and finding their real purpose in life. It’s no wonder so many of us question what it is we were put on this earth to do.
Self-actualization challenges us to achieve our highest potential in life and find ways to sustain it.
What is Self-Actualization?
Have you ever mentally thought about what it would take for you to be happy in life? Think about your dream job. What are the qualities that make it your dream job? What about your dream home? Where is it located?
Maybe it’s not a home at all but an RV trailer you take on the road going from place to place. Who is your dream mate or spouse? Does the life you imagine include children? Each of these questions challenges us to envision a life that is our very own and operating at its fullest potential.
An article published in Psychology Today, states that we achieve self-actualization when we are at our best in all aspects of our life.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Self-Actualization
According to Maslow, self-actualization is the pinnacle of our hierarchy of needs. It addresses our physiological and safety needs, the need for love and belonging, the need for self-esteem, and self-actualization. It might surprise you to know that only 1 percent of the population achieves self-actualization.
Once we achieve self-actualization, there is a sense of impending satisfaction and inner peace. With this accomplishment comes self-regulation and control of multiple facets of our lives including problem-solving, creativity, and mental wellness.
How to Achieve Self-Actualization
Kay Green identified four steps to arrive at Self-Actualization in an article published by the Huffington Post.
Do Not Compare Yourself Against Others
How many of us fall victim to keeping up with the Joneses? If your friends are getting married and having kids, you begin to question if you should be taking the same steps towards the altar. If your best friend is going back to school, you also wonder if you should be going back to school for an advanced degree as well. Unfortunately, we have a terrible habit of comparing ourselves to others and using it to determine where it is we want to be. Stop measuring yourself against others. Although it is only natural to measure what we have to others, finding that there are gaps that can cause you to self-criticize and stress about things that are beyond your control.
At the core of self-actualization is control. Self-actualization spits in the face of qualifying or quantifying your accomplishments against others. It challenges you to instead, evaluate where you are as an individual and compare that finding with where it is you want to be.
Full Acceptance of Self
Self-actualization requires us to accept ourselves for who we are in entirety. This requirement challenges each of us to acknowledge the good and bad of who we are. You must love yourself for your faults and the precious gifts that you can give the world. On the flip side, you cannot embellish these gifts that are better known as strengths.
This step is all about full recognition of who you are and how you use your assets and flaws to reach your fullest potential. You must have the capacity to find humor in everything about yourself and not take yourself too seriously while also having compassion for others and their uniqueness from who you are.
Recognize that You are In Control
With self-actualization, you control your destiny. There are external influences poised to impact your behavior and overall strategy. Self-actualization, however, is also about self-awareness. Self-awareness helps you to see that your work is never complete. It requires continuous growth and evolution of self from a personal and professional standpoint. Thus, our state of fulfillment is temporary.
As the world moves through a lane of chaos, if you are operating in a self-actualized state, you will continue to be true to who you are and how to navigate the situation based on your strengths and weaknesses. However, in those instances where you find yourself losing sight of who you are in the moment, use the collapse of control to learn more about who you are and where it is you want to be in similar situations should they occur in the future.
The self-actualization journey is never-ending. As you master one area of your life, you jog over to the next area of your life requiring attention. This effort is a cycle and therefore, over time, do not be surprised if you find yourself working on some part of who you are for a second, third, or fourth time.
Not everyone will make an effort to self-actualize whether due to unawareness or cultural bias. Those who do however have the opportunity to reach a state of fulfillment in life.