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Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

By | Motivation

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was developed by Abraham Maslow in the 1940’s as a theory of human motivation and personality.

The basic premise of Maslow’s theory is that human beings have needs that can be organised into a hierarchy of needs from basic needs like food and water, up to self actualisation.

We all begin at the lower level and as the needs of each level are satisfied we progress up the hierarchy.  Although these days you can find many examples of the hierarchy that have been modified or added to – some with up to ten levels, the original model consisted of five levels of needs being:

  • Physiological,
  • safety,
  • love and belonging,
  • esteem and
  • self actualisation.

Physiological Needs

Physiological needs relate to basic survival and include things like food, water, sleep and breathing. None of the other needs are sufficiently important for us to pursue until these basic needs have been met.  Because let’s face it, our bodies and minds do not work very well if we do not have enough food to eat or water to drink. Until we have these very basic needs meet we are unlikely to have any spare capacity for seeking higher level needs.

If you are starving – your focus is necessarily going to be on finding food!

Safety Needs

Safety needs are the next level of needs after our basic or physiological needs have been met. Once you have sourced food and water to sustain yourself your focus is going to shift to things like shelter, ensuring your physical safety, finding somewhere to live and securing the financial means to maintain our lives. When you have sourced enough resources to satisfy your physiological and safety needs you can start to focus on the next level in Maslow’s hierarchy.

Love / Belonging Needs

The next level are love and belonging needs. These needs include the need for family and friendships, social interaction, intimacy and affection. It is on this level where we begin to engage in social groups and develop relationships that satisfy our need to love and be loved and to feel like we have somewhere that we belong.  The feeling of belonging might be found in a two person, romantic relationship, membership in a family group or within a community.

Esteem Needs

Esteem needs are about what we think about ourselves and include things like self esteem, confidence and respect or recognition from others.

In simple terms, self esteem is measured by comparing who we think we are with who we think we should be, and our sense of self tends to be influenced quite heavily by the level of positive regard and recognition we receive from significant others in our lives.  Confidence comes from a belief that we have the tools, resources and abilities to succeed in what we are attempting.

All of these concepts or evaluations of ourselves require a certain level of self reflection.  Which we are unlikely to have the time for until needs on the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy have been met.

 Self Actualisation Needs

Self actualisation needs are the top needs on the hierarchy and relate to our need to reach out full potential. Maslow postulated that not all people would reach this level depending on how well they the lower level needs are met.

He did think though that meeting self actualisation needs was desirable, and should be the ultimate goal for all of us.  Self actualisation needs include things like exercising creativity and passion, highly developed concepts of morality and problem solving.

Self Motivation Tips

By | Motivation

Are you having trouble staying motivated? Whatever you are trying to achieve, these self motivation tips can help you to maintain your levels of motivation and take the actions necessary to work towards your goals.

If you need to find motivation, you are usually about to embark on an action or a series of actions that will result in the achievement of a goal. The goal might be tangible or in tangible, but either way you feel the need for an impetus or push to help you to reach the end result of the goal.

In this context, motivation is the force which impels to you take action, and to keep taking action until you attain or achieve your goal.

To put it another way, self motivation is what pushes you to act, even when it is difficult or when you really don’t want to. It is your reason for pursuing the goal in the first place. The stronger the reason the stronger the impulse to act.

But what often happens is that the impulse to act is anything but strong. Even if you have a very good reason to push yourself on towards your goal, you just can’t seem to summon up the will power (another word for self motivation when you think about it) to get it done.

That is the point where you either give up, or you have a good long look at you are trying to do and really understanding why you are doing it.

There is no magic pill, you can’t simply get motivation from someone else.

You are either motivated or you are not and if you are not, then either you are working towards the wrong goal, the goal is just not achievable, or you are working towards it for the wrong reason.

Re-evaluate Your Goals

An effective goal is one that is clearly defined and achievable. But more importantly, an effective goal is one that meets your psychological and emotional needs as well.

We often express our goals in tangible forms, we might want to run our own business or to have a million dollars, get a new job, lose weight or to buy a new car.

All very fine goals, and when we formulate them we truly believe that attaining the goal will make us happy.

But will they?

Unconsciously or sub-consciously we know more than we consciously know.

Consciously you might want a million dollars, but your sub-conscious knows the real reason behind your goal and if the two are not consistent, it is going to be very hard to achieve the goal at all, and there is a very good chance that something else entirely would achieve the emotional or psychological state you are seeking.

Do you really want a million dollars, or do you have a fear of scarcity in your life?

Or perhaps what you really want is the capability of making decisions about your life without having to worry about money?

A million dollars in the bank will achieve your stated goal but is it going to achieve the psychological goal?

Clearing Psychological Blocks and Barriers

If you have re-evaluated your goals and are happy that the stated goal is going to meet your physical, psychological and emotional needs, the next self motivation tip is to look at what blocks and barriers might prevent you from acting on your goals.

Of all of the self motivation tips on this page, this is perhaps the most difficult, but it can also be the most revealing. If you thoroughly investigate what is holding you back and why, you might find hidden in those blocks a brand new and much more effective goal.

Asking for Help

Do you need help from significant others to achieve your goals?

Have you worked out what you need from them?

It might just be a little moral support, financial or emotional support, or you might need them to change their behaviour towards you.

For example if you are trying to lose weight and a friend or a loved one is turning up armed with chocolates or cream cakes several times a week then it might pay to sit them down and explain what you are trying to do. Ask them for help.

If they still won’t stop feeding you, ask them not to come around for a while.

Building in Accountability

Work out a time line. Break your goal down into steps and work out when you want to complete each step.

And then show someone your plans. If they know you well, they might be able to point out any inconsistancies and offer feedback on whether or not the timeline is realistic.

You can also ask them to help you to monitor your progress and to celebrate with you as you complete each step.

Self Motivation Tips Summarised

If you have lost your motivation for a particular goal or course of action:

  • Re-evaluate your goals
  • Eliminate or minimise blocks and obstacles
  • Ask for help when necessary, and
  • Build in some accountability.

If you are not confident that you can work you way through all of these self motivation tips alone, one of the options available to you is to find yourself an experienced business or life coach.

Professional coaches are specially trained for exactly this type of situation and can guide you through the process.

What is Self Esteem?

By | Personal Development, Self Esteem

Self esteem is one of those topics that we all talk and think about at one time or another, but do we really understand what it is and do we all share the same understanding?  In my observations of the people entering and exiting my sphere of existence, I suspect that if pressed most people would struggle to come up with an accurate definition for the term.

So, just what is Self Esteem?

The answer to that question will vary depending whether you are discussing psychological research on the subject or the pop psychology use of the phrase.

In that later, self esteem is defined as ‘confidence in one’s own worth or abilities’ and it is often confused with self confidence, self assurance or pride.  Which from a psychological point of view are entirely different concepts!

They are correct in one aspect of the definition, self esteem is a value judgement of ourselves that we create (albeit sub-consciously).  We all have deeply held beliefs and values that we developed in our earlier years, and often we are completely unaware of what they are or how they influence our behaviours.

Often those beliefs and values are imposed on us (family and cultural ‘rules’) or are created as a response to favourable or unfavourable environmental conditions.

And all this happens without us actually knowing what is happening.

Not that we would have the tools to analyse and evaluate new beliefs and values and choose which ones to accept and which to reject as very young children anyway. And the foundations of your self esteem as an adult are a component of those beliefs and values.

Which Self are we Talking About?

If anyone ever tells you to ‘just be yourself’ you probably need to ask them which one!  Psychological research (particularly that done in the last century or so by the greats like James, Maslow, Rosenberg, Rogers, Kelly and many others) found evidence for many versions of self within a single individual.

Firstly, you have developed a self concept (or self image) which is who you think you are.  Your self concept includes both positive and negative evaluations of yourself, and beliefs about your capabilities and your value to others.

what is self esteem - the many versions of self

Then there is the ideal self.  This is who you think you should or could be.

You probably also have a public and a private self.  One you wear when you are interacting with other people and the other (private self) is closer to your ‘real self’ and you only live in that space when you are alone or in a really save place.

So what has all this to do with Self Esteem?

Basically your self esteem is an internal measure of your ‘self’.  It is the gap between who you think you are (your self concept) and who you think you should be (your ideal self).

There is an inverse relationship so the smaller the gap, the higher your self esteem and vice versa.  Seems simple, right?

The problem is that all of them are multi-faceted and touch on every aspect of your life and being.  Assigning a single value to any of the manifestations of self is actually pretty pointless, it is like trying to find the average value for multiple diverse populations, but it is what we do now-the-less.

Generally using a catch-all dichotomy like  good or bad, kind or mean, smart or dumb.  And not all of these ‘self evaluations’ are even close to being accurate!

What is Self Esteem for You?

There is a very well known self-esteem scale that you can use to measure your self esteem developed by Morris Rosenberg in 1965.

The University of Maryland (where Rosenberg worked) has a copy on their website if you would like to try it.  It is only 10 questions long and self scoring so it is quick and easy to do.   Click here to go to that page.


  • Rosenberg, Morris. 1965. Society and the Adolescent Self-Image. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. (Chapter 2 discusses construct validity.)
  • Rosenberg, Morris. 1986. Conceiving the Self. Krieger: Malabar, FL.

Ikigai – What Does it Mean?

By | Personal Development

You may have noticed that I used the phrase Ikigai on the home page and on my About Me page, and some of you may be wondering what it means.  While I always recommend that you do some serious fact checking if Wikipedia is your only source of information, the definition they offer for the term is the one that is generally accepted by the authors of the most popular books and websites on the subject:

Ikigai (生き甲斐, pronounced [ikiɡai]) is a Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being”, it is very similar to the French phrase Raison d’être. Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self.

Ikigai – Wikipedia

So Ikigai is the process of searching for self knowledge to gain an understanding of your reason for being.  Why you are here and what you should be doing if you want to reach your full potential.

How Ikigai Works…

Your Ikigai is the sweet spot, where what you love, what the world needs, what you are good at and what you can be paid for.

This model (concept) is not necessarily just about your career, it is about your purpose in this life.  While the model includes ‘what you can be paid for’.  It is not limited to a job or paid employment.  In Ikigai what you can be paid for is more about how you receive the resources you need to live.  And that is not always through paid employment.

It is about analysing your inner landscape (your ‘self’) to identify your passions, your mission, your vocation and a profession or occupation that will allow you to pursue them all.  To do it properly, it takes time – a lot of time – and courage.

Not everything you find out about your inner self will be pleasant, some of it may be dark or scary.  Your instinct may be to deny, deflect or make excuses.  You might delve in only to decide that what you are doing now is close enough.  And it might well be, but if you don’t go all the way and really analyse your ‘self’ – how are you going to really know.

Where to Start…

Is this a journey that you are brave enough (or desperate enough) to undertake?  I can point you in the direction of some really good resources that will help you to work out what it is that really makes you tick.  And I can help you to make sense of what ever it is that you find out about yourself.

Want to identify your mission? I can help you do that. Maybe you want to find out which profession will allow you to be passionate about what you do.  So that what you do for a living aligns with your values and beliefs.  Or do you need to develop new skills that will enable you to move into that profession?

I can help you develop the plan that -step by step – will get you there.