How can we become the best version of ourselves? We must learn about self-actualisation, of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, of the characteristics of self-actualising individuals and the 6 steps we can take to pursuing self-actualisation ourselves.

What You Can Be, You Must Be

A guide to realising your potential

“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves” — Thomas Edison

You are on your journey of life, your journey to achieving your goals and contributing to your community and society. To fully realise your potential and become the best version of yourself, you must learn about self-actualisation and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. You must be the best you can in every moment, not just in some abstract future.

What is Self-Actualisation?

Self-actualisation is the realisation of that which one is capable of accomplishing.

Kurt Goldstein viewed self-actualisation as the ultimate goal of every organism, not necessarily a goal to be reached in the future but an organism’s innate propensity to realise its potential at any moment under the given circumstances. To make the most of what we’ve got, essentially.

Carl Rogers saw self-actualisation as the “continuous life-long process whereby an indivudal’s self-concept is maintained and enhanced via reflection and the reinterpretation of various experiences which enable the individual to recover, change, and develop. Self-actualisation, he argued, can only occur when individuals are in a state of congruence, when a person’s ideal self (who they’d like to be) is congruent with their actual behaviour (self-image). The more overlap there is, the easier it is to self-actualise. In contrast, if their self-image is very different to the ideal self, it is difficult to self-actualise. Hence, the importance for gaining evidence and small wins that we are capable in something to move towards any prospect of excelling in that area: small wins alter our self-image towards our ideal self.

Abraham Maslow believed that we have lower order needs which must be generally met before our higher-order needs can be satiated, such as self-actualisation, the final stage of the hierarchy of needs. Hence, he argued, most people do not reach self-actualisation.


Whilst there may be a hierarchy, the reality is that we have all of these needs most of the time. Maslow argues that until we fulfill our basic needs, gratifying them dominates our attention. It is once gratified that we can shift more of our attention to growth needs. Nevertheless, we do not need to meet all of our basic needs before pursuing self-actualisation, but if we were to do so, it would mean we would feel less tension from our basic needs and have more time and energy available to devote to actualising our potential.

Characteristics of Self-Actualising Individuals

  1. Accepting of others’ as well as their own flaws, often with humour and tolerance. They are true to themselves, rather than pretending to impress others.
  2. Independent and resourceful. Less likely to rely upon external authorities to direct their lives. They take matters into their own hands. They positively like solutitude and privacy to a greater degree than the average person.
  3. Cultivate deep and loving relationships with others. They tend to have increased identification with the human species, and form deeper bonds with only a select few individuals. They are less determined by (and often unaware of) classifications, such as class, education, political belief, etc., because they identify closely with the human species.
  4. Tend to be grateful for and appreciative of even the most commonplace blessings in life — nature, sunsets… In a society moving from stimulation to stimulation, they are remarkably different in this case.
  5. Discern between the superficial and the real. They have a firm value structure and realise that many problems dissipate and fade out of existence on their own.
  6. Rarely depend on their environment or culture to form opinions.
  7. Tendency to view life as a mission which calls them to a purpose beyond themselves. Their missions in life and tasks to fulfill demand much of their energies.

How to Pursue Self-Actualisation

  1. Get to know your core strengths.
  2. Stay in your center.
    When you’re out of your center, your drive to pursue basic needs takes over.
  3. Craft a personal vision for the person you are becoming.
    Who do you want to be? What do you want to do? Gain clarity.
  4. Put together a basic personal development plan.
    Cut through distraction and focus on what is most important. Rather than being passive and aimless, take life into your own hands.
  5. Overcome internal resistence.
    Confront your fears and fall in love with boredom, in working through the inevitable mundane, difficult, and dull tasks that will come your way.
  6. Read.
    Millions of people have come before you wanting the same thing: an answer to “How can I make my life count?” Hence, reading allows you to realise that you are capable of more, to stand on the shoulders of the giants before us and converse with the wisest to have ever lived. Through reading, we can cultivate our child-like curiosity, and the lessons we learn may eventually ripen into practice.

We know that we are capable of more. That’s why we are here. That’s why we are continually searching. Start your adventure by confronting your fears, by learning how to meet your needs with what you have, and creating and following a plan that will move you towards self-actualisation. You are capable of so much more than you think you are.




Mathematician | Writer and Content Creator for the University of Nottingham | Self & Personal Development. How can we get unstuck and achieve our goals?

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Mathematician | Writer and Content Creator for the University of Nottingham | Self & Personal Development. How can we get unstuck and achieve our goals?

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