Doing the Work to Become a Better You

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By Thamar Jones
Self-actualization is a concept coined by American psychologist Abraham Maslow. It refers to the process of achieving a hierarchy of needs – physiological, safety and security, love and belonging, and esteem – in addition to reaching one’s full potential. Assuming you have met the lower level basic needs for food, water, oxygen, sleep, shelter and social stability, you can reach self-actualization by identifying and striving towards ultimate meaning in your life. What are practical steps to achieving self-actualization?
Part1
Connecting to Your Future Self
Decide who you want to be. The only way you can reach self-actualization is to envision what your actualized self will look like. Connecting with your future self is an important step in reaching personal goals. Two ways you can connect with your future self are:
Creating a vision board. Prepare a collage – either online or with photos and paper – that sums up the future self you hope to become. Browse through magazine or online galleries and search for pictures and phrases that represent the person you envision yourself becoming. Paste all these images and words together to create a larger image depicting your future self.
Writing a letter Another powerful way to forge a connection with your future self is with a “Dear Future Me” letter. Write in detail about all the things you are proud of or inspired by about your future self. Go on to tell exactly HOW and WHY your future self, reached these
successes.
Self Actualization Step 2
Identify your personal values. Once you have a general idea of where you want to end up you need to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to get there. Pinpointing your personal values can give insight on what drives your decisions, beliefs, and ideas. Think of your values as a road map directing you to your future self. Identify your values by doing the following:
Think of two people you admire. What characteristics describe them?
If you could change something about your local community or the world in general, what would it be?
If your house was on fire, what three things would you take with you?
When was the last time you felt really accomplished?
Describe the moment and why you felt this way.
Which topics do you stand up for or get really riled up about? Why do these topics get you going?
Once you have considered these questions/statements, look for themes in your answers. Any recurring themes may shed light on your values.
Self Actualization Step 3
Check for contradictions. After you have performed an analysis of your values, compare these to your future self.
Do your current values coincide with the life you hope to someday lead? Now, reflect on your everyday behaviors, beliefs, and principles. Do these match your values and the person you hope to be?
If you are not currently living out the values that are important to you or that will help you manifest into your future self, you will need to do some restructuring and goal-setting.
Read next week for Part 2