See if you recognize this pattern of thinking. The job is going well. You’re getting paid. You’re a good worker in your company you say but you are starting to dread going to work because it is getting oh so boring. There is some dissatisfaction there and maybe you are generally unhappy. It’s a bit difficult to put your finger on it, but this boredom is turning up in other places, in your relationships and with your family members. You may be experiencing pressure for self-actualization.
Maslow defined self-actualization as “the desire for self-fulfillment” and the tendency for one to become fully accomplished in what one has, potentially. This desire serves to motivate you to achieve everything within your capabilities. Indeed we are wired this way. It is not a deficiency as much as it is a desire to explore an intrinsic capability that has not been developed to its full potential.
We often speak about appreciative enquiry when we are helping colleagues figure out latent potential and we stumble onto these nuggets of self-actualization through mentorship and personal guidance. We predict that in the gig economy we will have greater latitude to express a whole range of interests while putting food on the table. On-demand jobs in the US will have 7.6 million people employed in this fashion by 2020 according to Intuit and Emergent Research studies.
As we look at the signs of self-actualization cast yourself into different views, that of your colleagues and indeed yourself and the leaders around you. Perhaps you see these in others. Perhaps some of these describe you and you are further along the path of self-actualization since:
You are becoming sensitive to fakery and dishonest behaviors. Often when reflecting on the conversations of others, the truth seems to seep through, sometimes even at 2am.
You are finding yourself at peace with the shortcomings of others and it is kind of funny how some people are taking themselves so seriously!
You don’t put too much stock in what everyone else thinks and you charge yourself to form your own opinion. Heck, you have a brain, why not?
You begin to look at what everyone else needs and find there are people less fortunate or lost who you can help in spite of yourself. That seems to be a more worthy mission.
You are achieving more presence of mind and actually listening to what people are saying and enjoying the human bonds of communication. You texted me but I really needed to chat with you.
At times it seems like the universe turns to you for a moment and you have a marked feeling of joy and deep meaning.
You notice greatly what resonates with your internal compass and thus you are becoming spontaneous and true to yourself.
You start to ask simple questions and enjoy exercising a refreshing curiosity. You have an appreciation for the stuff of life that is so often taken for granted. Haven’t you marveled at the sparkling sunshine when the leaves sway? Or been in places where you could swear you could hear the grass grow?
Everyone achieves these characteristics in their own way and to varying degrees. Life may interrupt our journey from time to time with some demanding fundamentals, like meeting your bills! Even Maslow said there are no perfect human beings but take heed of the journey markers I say. When we conduct ourselves with courage, transparency and engagement, we bring tremendous value and comfort to those around us. And it make things oh so interesting!
By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.
Maslow, A. H. (1943). A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 382-383.