By: Alexis Gomez

When it comes to living the life we have always hoped for, the journey ahead can sometimes seem overbearing and uncertain. The best version of ourselves may seem far away, but when we look at the steps we can take, that journey can become less intimidating.

One theory about the steps we can take to become the best version of ourselves is “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” Psychologist Abraham Maslow first introduced this theory in 1943, and it has since remained one of the most notable theories in the field of psychology.

Maslow’s theory is often depicted as a pyramid that describes each realm of human needs that are necessary to achieve the best version of ourselves. The order of needs is ranked as follows:

  • Basic: Includes air, water, food, shelter, sleep
  • Safety and Security: Includes financial security, health, resources
  • Belonging and Social Connection: Includes relationships, love, trust, intimacy, community
  • Esteem and Recognition: Includes respect from others, respect for yourself, dignity
  • Self-Actualization: Includes happiness, the best form of oneself

This hierarchy of needs seems straightforward, but it misses nuances and important aspects of life that can drastically affect our road to self-actualization. Critics of Maslow’s theory have argued that human needs do not necessarily follow a hierarchy and that its simplicity may not be the most practical when it comes to figuring out the ideal roadmap of life.

Maslows Hierarchy While Maslow’s hierarchy of needs may not be the end-all-be-all to becoming the absolute best version of oneself, this theory has once again gained popularity as viewpoints on various aspects of life have shifted over the last few years. One large aspect of life that can be analyzed under Maslow’s theory is our jobs and careers. How can we ensure that our job is leading us up the golden ladder to self-actualization? We can apply Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to our careers and analyze if our jobs bring us satisfaction.

Physiological needs: How do you feel about the physical environment of your job? Do you enjoy being surrounded by coworkers or working from home? Are you allowed to grab a snack or go to the bathroom? Does your job provide you with the necessary tools needed to fulfill your responsibilities?

Safety needs: Can you expect steady employment? Or are you walking on eggshells, worried that you could lose your job? Are your wages or salary enough to ensure financial security? Does your job offer you benefits? Does being at your job put your physical or mental health at risk? Do you worry that you could be harmed or harassed? Are your health and well-being taken seriously at work?

Belonging and social connection needs: Do you feel like you belong at your job? Do you have a decent relationship with your boss and fellow coworkers? How do you feel about the company’s culture? Do you feel included in important events or decisions?

Esteem needs: Do you feel respected at your job? Do you respect those around you and the work that you do? Do you care or believe in the company’s mission? What are you contributing to with your work? Does it make you happy?

Self-actualization: Do you feel like you’re reaching peak production? Do you enjoy what you do? Do you have the opportunity to be creative and think about bigger and better projects?

If you do not feel good about your responses to these questions, then it might be time to reevaluate whether your job is truly satisfying your needs. If you do feel good about your responses, then you have likely landed yourself in the right career or are on the right path!

In a world where workers are seeking fulfillment and purpose beyond financial gain, Maslow’s original theory offers a perfect roadmap for evaluating potential careers. As organizations recognize the value of well-being in their employees, they are working harder than ever to create workplaces that align with Maslow’s principles.

Tech giants like Google and Apple, known for their innovative workspaces and emphasis on employee well-being, exemplify this trend. Additionally, startups and small businesses are placing greater emphasis on flexible work arrangements, personal growth opportunities, and purpose-driven missions.

Feeling empowered and enjoying your job are huge aspects of life that can ultimately help you achieve and maintain--as Maslow would say--the fruits of self-actualization!