wikiHow to Achieve Self Actualization

Three Parts:Connecting to Your Future SelfLiving Your ValuesReaching Your Mental Potential

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.[1] 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.

Part 1
Connecting to Your Future Self

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    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:[2]
    • 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.
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    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:[3]
    • 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.
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    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.[4]

Part 2
Living Your Values

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    Set goals that align with your vision.[5] Having goals that don't fit with your overall values is like riding in a buggy with two horse that are going in opposite directions - it's mayhem. You can have the most inspiring goals, but if they are not supporting your personal values, your success won't feel like success.[6]
    • For example, Joe finds that his biggest values are community involvement, integrity, and leadership. In his current job, he is a supervisor at a non-profit organization that offers scholarships and training to under-served student populations. He learns that all the funds are not being directed to students as he once thought. Despite him meeting his values of community involvement and leadership, Joe may feel dissatisfied with his job because the organization is not one of integrity. Joe must develop new goals that align with his values to bring him balance and happiness.
    • Create SMART goals - those that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Ensuring that your goals meet these requirements can help you accomplish you goals faster and move closer to self-actualization.
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    Reassess your progress over time. Self-actualization is a careful balance of goal completion and values. Whenever one becomes misaligned, you will need to revisit both your values and goals. If your values shift, for example, because you have a family, you will need to create new goals that coincide with these new values.
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    Learn constantly. Committing to becoming a lifelong learner is the ultimate step in achieving self-actualization. A lifelong learner is one who uses information and experience to expand his own horizons and his life accordingly. Become a lifelong learner by:[7]
    • Questioning your assumptions - Think twice about unquestioned beliefs or biases, asking yourself "What else could I assume?" or "What evidence do I have for or against this assumption?"[8]
    • Teaching learned skills to others - Whether it's information from your career or study gleaned from a hobby, teach it. Teaching what you know to others helps you gain exposure, allows you to be seen as an expert to others, and enhances your knowledge of the subject.[9]
    • Reading books
    • Cultivating relationships with intellectuals
    • Journaling
    • Meditating
    • Engaging in problem-solving
    • Joining organizations
    • Attending workshops
    • Getting involved with projects
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    Find passions. Passions are activities that you are willing to invest time and effort into because they bring you great pleasure. Passions result in a decrease in negative emotions and increased psychological well-being.[10] These can range from writing to running to collecting stamps. More than likely, these passions will also align with your values in life.
    • If you have trouble pinpointing any passions, think about the last event you attended. You had to buy a ticket, coordinate your schedule with a buddies or partners, and find something to wear. You put in a lot of effort to go to this event. Now, think about other events you have attended over the past year. Do you notice any recurring themes?[11]

Part 3
Reaching Your Mental Potential

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    Think positively. Being able to look on the bright side of things is key to personal success and well-being. People who thin positively tend to have less health problems, stronger immune systems,and greater resilience to difficult life problems.[12] One way to become a more positive thinker is by eliminating negative self-talk.
    • Spend a few minutes each day paying careful attention to your self-talk. What are you saying to yourself as you go about your daily routine? Are these thoughts uplifting or belittling?
    • If your self-talk contains a lot of criticisms, aim to replace these negative thoughts with more positive, helpful statements. For example, if you catch yourself thinking "This is too hard. I don't know how to do it" reframe these statements to "This is a difficult task. I may need extra help in getting it done."
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    Boost your self-esteem. Self-actualized people feel a sense of worthiness and respect for both themselves, and others. Appreciating who you are and recognizing your worth are instrumental in developing a healthy mindset. Two practical solutions for boosting self-esteem are overcoming perfectionism and the tendency to compare.
    • When we hold ourselves to unrealistically high standards (perfectionism), we will always fall short. Having realistic expectations about what you can accomplish motivates you to work harder and makes your feel good about yourself. When you move past perfectionism, mistakes aren't permanent failures, and even tiny successes are worthy of celebration.
    • Assuming that everyone else has a better time than you is a recipe for disaster. All humans have shortcomings and comparing yourself to someone else based on what you see from the outside is unfair to you. The only comparisons you should be making is with yourself today versus yesterday.
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    Be open-minded. A self-actualized person is capable of considering alternative opinions, perspectives, and methods that differ from his own. Being open-minded does not mean you are wishy-washy. Instead it means you can adequately assess multiple variables of a situation before coming to a conclusion. You welcome new experiences and are accessible to positive reactions. You can learn to be more open-minded by completing these two exercises:[13]
    • Think of a highly charged topic (e.g. abortion, war, artificial intelligence, etc.) and take the opposite side of the argument from your own. List five valid statements that support this position.
    • Recall a time when you were betrayed or hurt by another. List three potential reasons this person may have hurt you, either by accident or on purpose.
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    Stand behind your choices. While self-actualized individuals may be open to various opinions and perspectives, they are also self-reliant. Being emotionally self-reliant translates to having the confidence to make your own decisions without relying on the influences of others and standing behind these decisions. If you are interested in becoming more emotionally self-reliant, try these three strategies:[14]
    • Quit waiting for an "okay". When you have a big decision to make, it can be easy to delay or put off making a choice because you are waiting for some other key player in your life to grant you permission. Self-reliance means trusting your intuition and making the choice that suits without relying on others to tell you its okay.
    • Jump off the see-saw. Going back and forth on a decision after making it builds self-doubt. Once you have chosen, move on. Stop weighing the pros and cons and doubting the value of your decision.
    • Stay the course. Even if a decision you made leads to subpar results, it doesn't mean you're on the wrong path. If you truly want something, you don't roll over and surrender after being faced with opposition. keep pushing towards the life you want.
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    Cultivate relationships with positive influencers. A sense of belonging and love are important needs in realizing self-actualization. However, ensuring that the relationships you build are positive gives you an extra lift. When we surround ourselves with positive people we have greater self-confidence, make healthier decisions, and cope with stress better.[15][16]
    • Conduct an inspection of your close relationships. Do the people you spend the most time with reflect your personal values? Do these people make you feel good about yourself? Do they motivate you to be your best self? If the answers to any of these are "no", you may need to distance yourself from these negative influencers.

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