Self-actualization is a concept developed by an American psychologist named Abraham Maslow. This concept explains that humans have needs and try to achieve them in a certain order, starting from the physiological needs, the need for security, the need for love and belonging, the need for esteem, and the highest is the need for self-actualization. Assuming you are able to meet the basic needs, namely food, water, oxygen, sleep, shelter, and social stability, you can realize your highest life goal, which is self-actualization.
Part 1 of 3: Feel the Connection to Yourself That You Want
Step 1. Define your goals
The only way to achieve self-actualization is to imagine what you would be like if you were already actualized. In order to achieve your personal goals, try to feel the connection to yourself that you desire in two ways:
- Make a vision board. Make a collage on your computer or use paper and paste the self-described photos you want for the day ahead. Choose an image or phrase in a magazine or internet photo gallery that reflects the person you want to be. Combine these images and phrases to form a large painting that represents the life of your dreams for the day ahead.
- Write a letter. Another way to bring out that sense of connection with yourself that you dream of is by writing a letter. Write down in detail all the things that make you feel proud or inspired by yourself mentally achieving your goals. Continue this letter by telling as accurately as possible the “how” and “why” you have achieved this success.
Step 2. Identify the value of your beliefs
Once you have the big picture of what you want, take another look at your vision board and pictures and think about how to get there. Determine the value of beliefs that allow you to see what has been driving your decisions, beliefs, and ideas. Think of these values as a map that guides you to reach your goals. Do the following to identify the value of your beliefs:
- Think of two people you admire. What characteristics can describe who they are?
- If you could make a change in your local community or in the world at large, what would you change?
- If your house caught a fire (hopefully it didn't), what three things would you take with you?
- When was the last time you felt very successful? Describe the moment and why.
- What topic would you like to discuss or excite you? Why did the topic affect you?
- After you have thought about the questions/statements above, find a theme for your answer. Recurring themes can be considered as the value of your beliefs.
Step 3. Check whether there are any contradictions
After analyzing the value of a belief, compare it to your desired self. Are your current beliefs in line with the life you want to live in the future? Now, think about whether your everyday behaviors, beliefs, and principles are in harmony with your values and your desired personality.
If your life isn't aligned with the values you believe are important or can help you achieve your goals, make changes and set new goals
Part 2 of 3: Living a Life Based on Belief Values
Step 1. Set goals that align with your vision
Goals that are not aligned with the value of faith are like a chariot drawn by two horses, but each goes in the opposite direction. Your goals may be very inspiring, but if these goals don't align with your values, your accomplishments won't feel like success.
- For example, for Joni, the most important values of belief are community involvement, integrity, and leadership. Currently, Joni is the supervisor of a non-profit organization that provides scholarships and training for students in disadvantaged areas. He knew that the available funds were not entirely given to the students as he thought. Although Joni was able to work in harmony with his values, namely community involvement and leadership, he was disappointed that this organization lacked integrity. Joni must determine new goals that are in line with the values of her beliefs to find balance and happiness in life.
- Set goals based on SMART criteria: S from specific means specific, M from measurable meaning measurable, A from attainable meaning it can be achieved, R from realistic meaning realistic, and T from timely meaning having a deadline. Make sure your goals meet these criteria so that they can be realized and help you achieve self-actualization.
Step 2. Conduct regular progress evaluations
Self-actualization requires a balance between goal achievement and value beliefs. If there is a discrepancy, you should evaluate your values and goals. For example, if your beliefs change because you're married, set new goals that align with your new beliefs.
Step 3. Keep learning
Committing to being a lifelong learner is the most important step towards achieving self-actualization. A lifelong learner is someone who uses his information and experiences to broaden his horizons and develop his life well. Be a lifelong learner by:
- Question your assumptions. Think again about questionable beliefs or prejudices. Ask yourself, “Are there any other assumptions?” or “What evidence can I use against this assumption?”
- Teach learnable skills to others. Share information you gain from work or knowledge you gain from hobby activities. Teaching what you know to others exposes you, looks like an expert, and increases your knowledge of the subject being taught. Do some of the following to improve your skills so you can teach them to others:
- Read a book
- Build relationships with intellectuals
- Journal writing
- Get involved to solve problems
- Join the organization
- Take workshops
- Participate in the project
Step 4. Find out what excites your life
Activities that spark a passion for life make you willing to invest time and effort because it feels so good. Doing activities you enjoy can ease negative emotions and improve psychological well-being, such as writing, running, or collecting stamps. In addition, these activities are usually in harmony with the values of your beliefs.
If you're having trouble finding an activity you enjoy, remember the last event you attended. You'll need to buy tickets, arrange a schedule with friends or a partner, and prepare clothes to wear. You have put a lot of effort into the event. Now, think of another event you attended a year ago. Do you see recurring themes?
Part 3 of 3: Increasing Mental Strength
Step 1. Get in the habit of positive thinking
The ability to see the positive side of anything is the key to personal success and happiness in life. People who are able to think positively tend to be healthier, have a better immune system, and are more resilient to life's adversity. You can become a more positive person by eliminating negative thoughts about yourself.
- Set aside a few minutes a day to pay attention to the inner conversation or speech you are addressing yourself. What do you tell yourself about your daily routine? Does this thought make you feel proud or belittled?
- If your inner conversation is self-critical, try to replace negative thoughts with positive, helpful statements. For example, if you are aware that you are thinking, “This is so hard. I don't know how to do it" change this statement to, "This task is difficult. I need help so that this task can be completed.”
Step 2. Cultivate a feeling of worth within you
People who have achieved self-actualization will feel valued and able to respect themselves and others. Respecting yourself and acknowledging your worth is a way of developing a healthy mindset. Two practical solutions to increasing self-esteem are to eliminate perfectionism and the tendency to compare yourself to others.
- We will always feel like a failure if we apply unrealistically high standards to ourselves (perfectionism). Expecting realistic achievements from yourself is a way of motivating yourself to work hard and feel good about yourself. By forgetting perfectionism, mistakes are not permanent failures and small successes are worth celebrating.
- Presuming that other people are having a better life than you is a source of disaster. Everyone has flaws and comparing yourself to others based on what you see on the outside is not a fair way for you. The comparison you need to make is between yourself today versus yesterday.
Step 3. Be an open minded person
People who have achieved self-actualization are able to consider different opinions, views, and methods. Someone who is open-minded does not mean someone who doesn't have a stand, but someone who is able to consider various possibilities before making conclusions, someone who is willing to get new experiences and is able to give a positive response. So that you can open your eyes, do the following two exercises:
- Think of two topics that tend to be opposed (eg abortion, war, artificial intelligence, etc.) and then come up with an argument against your own. Find five statements that support your argument.
- Remember a time when you were betrayed or hurt by someone else. Find three possible reasons why this person hurt you, intentionally or unintentionally.
Step 4. Stand up for your decision
Although self-actualized people are willing to be open to various opinions and views, they are also capable of relying on themselves. Relying on yourself emotionally makes you feel confident to make decisions without relying on others and being able to defend your decisions. In order to become a person who can rely on yourself emotionally, do the following three ways:
- Don't wait for approval from others. When you have to make an important decision, maybe you tend to delay or buy time because you are still waiting for a decision or permission from someone else who is the main character. Relying on yourself means trusting your intuition and making the right decisions without waiting for the approval of others.
- Don't be hesitant. To reconsider the decisions you have made is to doubt yourself. After making a decision, implement it. Stop weighing the pros and cons or doubting your own decisions.
- Keep trying. Decisions that yield substandard results don't mean you've made a mistake. If you really want something, don't just try and give up because of opposition. Pursue the life you want.
Step 5. Connect with people who are a positive influence
A sense of belonging and affection is needed to achieve self-actualization. However, believing that you are in a positive relationship makes you even more excited. Associating with positive people makes us feel more confident, able to make the right decisions, and relieve stress.