January 14, 2019

What is Maslow’s Hierarchy and How Can It Help You Set Goals?

What is Maslow’s Hierarchy and How Can It Help You Set Goals?


Maslows Triangel and how it helps you with goal setting

Maslow's Pyramid

We are often taught about the FOOD PYRAMID in health class when we are younger. What food choices take precedent, how much dessert is generally healthy, and how much “green stuff” should be on our plate? But there is another pyramid, created by Psychologist Abraham Maslow, that might be of equal importance to you, your health, your family, and your lifestyle goals.

Abraham Maslow was an American Psychologist (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970) who first published his theory of the Hierarchy of Needs in 1943. The theory, which is well respected by many psychologists and experts, suggests that there are five essential needs that must be met in order for a human to live a fulfilling life and reach the peak of existence, or self actualization. Theoretically, each basic need must be in place, like the levels of a pyramid, before the individual can begin to achieve the subsequent needs.


Physiological Needs: The most basic of human needs, as suggested buy Maslow’s theory, are those that actually provide life like, food, water, sleep, warmth, oxygen, and shelter (sometimes sex is included here). Without these most basic of necessities it’s hard to focus on any of the latter needs in Maslow’s Hierarchy.


Safety and Security: Protecting the home, the family, and a sense of security & comfort is the next layer to Maslow’s pyramid. This can include a secure job and avoiding illness and injury.


Love and Belonging: Generally, according to Maslow’s theory, once an individual has met their own physiological and safety needs, they will require love, relationships, and sex.


Self-Esteem: The next level of the pyramid regards the need for success, creativity, mastery, and respect. The need to feel accomplished is a very driving force which can sometimes lead to neglect of the 3 previous levels, and therefore, poor decisions.


Self-Actualization: The definition of “Self-Actualization” can be subjective but generally refers to mentorship, charity, meaning, and motivating others.


Apply Your Wants To Your Needs

How can you use Maslow’s theory as a tool for success? Hyrum W. Smith wrote in his book, The 10 Natural Laws Of Successful Time And Life Management,  

           When your daily activities reflect your governing values, you experience inner peace”.

Perhaps an even more simple way of saying it, as written by Jeff Olson in The Slight Edge, 

            “The secret ingredient is your philosophy

That might sound super deep and “zen” but it doesn't have to be. With the very tangible and useful NEEDS PYRAMID as a guide you can examine the things in your life that truly matter; family, kids, relationships, or teaching, and prepare actions and set goals that are in line with those things.

A simple drill to find out if your goals are in line with your values is the 3 WHYs:

1) Why do I want to go to the gym? To help me stop smoking cigarettes.

2) Why do I want to stop smoking cigarettes? To gain control.

3) Why do I want to gain control? To improve my self esteem.

As simple as that example seems, it’s usually even more easy to neglect any amount reflection on our daily habits and goals. Simply having to address our actions, and assess our values, can help us align those goals. If you are ever facing a difficult time breaking bad habits or developing new practices, first take the time to figure out if your goals actually align with your most important values. It's very possible you'll find the related tasks to be much easier to complete and stick with.

A few important references you can use: