I believe that a person can only truly serve their purpose if they first take care of their own basic needs. It is only when your glass is full that you can start filling other people’s glasses.
This belief has a basis in psychological theory. In particular, I refer to the idea of the “hierarchy of needs” created in 1943 by a psychologist named Abraham Maslow. Through his observations of the human condition, Maslow determined that every person has five levels of need. Beginning with the most basic, these needs ascend in complexity and psychological effect until we come to the conditions that allow us to achieve fulfilment.
Level #1 – Physiological Needs
This level covers the biological needs that all humans have for survival. Such needs include food, drink, air, and even rest. We also incorporate the need for shelter, clothing, and warmth into this level. After all, failure to fulfil these basic needs means you’re unable to focus on the levels that follow.
Level #2 – Safety Needs
With our physiological needs met, safety and security become our next priority. This leads to the creation of laws and the rules that govern our existence. Ultimately, this level is all about finding security on every level possible.
Level #3 – Belongingness and Love Needs
As humans, we all crave love and a sense of belonging. In most cases, our families are the first group of people who shows us love and creates an environment in which we belong. This level covers needs related to friendship, trust, intimacy, and acceptance.
Level #4 – Esteem Needs
Maslow split this level of need into two categories: Esteem for oneself.
The desire for esteem from other people.
The first of these categories relates to our desire to feel confident and love ourselves. It’s about understanding how you are, how you fit into the world, and, most crucially, feeling comfortable and happy with who you see looking back at you in the mirror.
The second category is all about how others perceive us and the value that we bring to society. We want people to appreciate the contributions we make and recognise our achievements.
It’s in meeting both the requirements for both categories that we start to see the value that we offer. And that leads us to the final level of need.
Level #5 – Self-Actualisation
I believe this is the level that all purpose-driven individuals achieve. It’s at this level that you feel truly fulfilled and believe that you’re living up to your potential. You’re satisfied with how you’re living your life and the impact that you’re having on others.
Whatever your real purpose may be, you must first fulfil the needs in the previous four levels before you’re able to reach this point and genuinely grow.