Self-Actualization is seeking personal growth through peak experiences in order to realize your fullest potential and reach self-fulfillment. It is often thought of or viewed as a destination or a process, but it is really a state of being. It is when you can say, “I am being all that I am, and all that I was meant to be.”
We encourage people to seek and discover their destiny by seeking to discover themselves. Self-actualization is what we hope you ultimately reach. However, it is important to note that this is a continuous process of becoming rather than a final state of being that a person reaches and stays at.
Dr. Abraham Maslow first coined the term “self-actualization.” He believed human motivation is based on people seeking fulfillment and change through personal growth. Self-actualized people are those who are self-fulfilled and doing all they are capable of doing and becoming all they are capable of becoming. Dr. Maslow described self-actualization in the following way:
“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. This is the need we may call self-actualization… It refers to man’s desire for fulfillment, namely to the tendency for him to become actually in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.”
The need for personal growth is present throughout a person’s life. For Maslow, a person is always “becoming” and never remains static. It is an ongoing process in which a person’s capacities are fully, creatively, and happily utilized. Through personal growth, a person is able to accomplish great things, building upon confidence, competence, and abilities. Eventually, a person comes to find a meaning to life that is important to them.
Maslow believes there are two processes necessary for self-actualization:
- self-exploration, and
The deeper the self-exploration, the closer one comes to self-actualization. Our road to self-actualization starts with self-discovery, and then goes through self-development (personal growth) into self-mastery before reaching self-actualization. Self-discovery is the explorations process, while self-development and self-mastery are the action segments.
Journey and Destination
As indicated, self-actualization can be thought of both as an end and a process. If you grow and develop in your daily life, you can become self-actualized. Hence, it can be said that you reached your destination. But it can also be perceived as a process because you do not arrive at a point in your life when you can say, “I am self-actualized. I don’t need any more personal growth.” You continue your personal growth and development even after you reach self-actualization. Basically, personal growth is the means to become self-actualized, but it is not the end to the means.
Self-actualization can be thought in relation to a journey through the woods. The journey represents your life. As you travel down the path of life, you have experiences, and from these experiences you learn and grow. If you walk or wander slowly without taking notices of your surroundings, you can limit your personal growth. You can also limit your personal growth by running through the path too fast and not paying attention, and potentially getting lost for a while.
If you move at a steady pace focusing on your surroundings and learning from your experiences, you will move in the direction of self-actualization. Because of your focus and continuous personal growth, you reach a river long the path. You may continue to take the path, or you can continue to your destination using a boat to take you down the river. The boat represents self-actualization. Basically, you have reached the destination of self-actualization. However, you are also still traveling along your path of personal growth, but doing it with comfort and ease. You are in the “flow” experience. If you do not take the boat, and keep walking, you will not be self-actualized. You will still have personal growth, but not self-actualization.