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. If you are still struggling to discover your real purpose in life and questioning what it is you were put on this earth to do, read on.

What is Self-Actualization?

Self-actualization is the achievement of our highest potential in life and is “the psychological process aimed at maximizing the use of a person’s abilities and resources” (Couture et al., 2007).

Have you ever really 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 true to our highest self while operating at our highest 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

diagram of maslow's hierarchy of needs

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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 deep 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

1. Stop Comparing Yourself to 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 toward 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 against what others have, finding that there are gaps can cause you to self-criticize and stress about things that are beyond your control.

Control is at the core of self-actualization. Self-actualization means you don’t fall into the trap of qualifying or quantifying your accomplishments against others’ achievements. It challenges you instead to evaluate where you are as an individual and compare where you are now with where you want to be.

2. Self-Acceptance

Self-actualization requires us to accept ourselves for who we are in our entirety. This requirement challenges each of us to acknowledge the good and bad of who we are. You must love yourself for your imperfections and the precious gifts that you have to give the world. On the flip side, you must not embellish these gifts to make you seem better than you really are, as that is a sign of insecurity.

This step is all about full recognition of who you are and how you use your gifts 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 own particular uniqueness.

3. Take Responsibility For Your Life

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 chaos, if you are operating in a self-actualized state, you will continue to be true to who you are and navigate each 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 loss 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.

4. Continue To Grow

The self-actualization journey is ongoing. As you master one area of your life, you move on to the next area of your life requiring attention. This effort is cyclical and therefore, over time, do not be surprised if you find yourself working on some aspect of who you are for a second, third, or fourth time.


The Oracle at Delphi says “Know Thyself”. Developing an inner knowing is the path to higher consciousness and enlightenment. Those who work on self-actualization have the opportunity to reach a state of complete joy and fulfilment in life.

No matter where you are on your path, if you would like to explore more about yourself and your unique purpose and learn about the tools and techniques I provide to support you on your journey, apply for a FREE Success Strategy Session.

If you’d like to dive deeper into understanding self-actualization, there’s a detailed article at a favourite website of mine – Positive Psychology.

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Jan Shaw – The Success Alchemist, is a Spiritual Empowerment and Intuitive Success Coach, Success Strategist, Mindset & Manifestation Mentor. She delivers intuitive guidance, spiritual and metaphysical teaching, plus practical life and business success strategies, to support you in fulfilling your Soul Mission and Life Purpose and achieving your highest potential.

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