Much of the work I do is centered around the idea of self-awareness, understanding who you are, what motivates you, and then taking the necessary action to become your best self. Many believe that setting goals and accomplishing them is all they need to do to reach the fullest potential. However, for one to truly reach that state of self-actualization identified by Abraham Maslow, one must ensure that all their needs are met. Maslow's hierarchy of needs suggests that all individuals have an in-built need for personal development which occurs through a process called self-actualization.
The extent to which people are able to develop depends on certain needs being met and these needs form a hierarchy. Only when one level of need is satisfied can a higher one be developed. As change occurs throughout life, however, the level of need motivating someone’s behavior at any one time will also change.
At the bottom of the hierarchy are the basic physiological needs for food, drink, sex and sleep, i.e., the basics for survival.
Second are the needs for safety and security in both the physical and economic sense.
Thirdly, progression can be made to satisfying the need for love and belonging.
The fourth level refers to meeting the need for self-esteem and self-worth. This is the level most closely related to ‘self-empowerment’.
The fifth level relates to the need to understand. This level includes more abstract ideas such as curiosity and the search for meaning or purpose and a deeper understanding.
The sixth relates to aesthetic needs of beauty, symmetry and order.
Finally, at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy is the need for self-actualization.
Maslow (1970, p.383) says that all individuals have the need to see themselves as competent and autonomous, also that every person has limitless room for growth.
Self-actualization refers to the desire that everybody has ‘to become everything that they are capable of becoming’.
In other words, it refers to self-fulfillment and the need to reach full potential as a unique human being.
For Maslow, the path to self-actualization involves being in touch with your feelings, experiencing life fully
and with total concentration.
Maslow, A. H. (1970), Motivation and Personality, (2nd Edition), Harper & Row, New York.