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What If All the Choices You Make Every Day Aren’t What You Need Most?

What If All the Choices You Make Every Day Aren’t What You Need Most?

When you are going to school, the question everyone asks is, “so, what do you want to do?” Usually you can get away with a quick summation of your major, or explain every tedious detail of your wildest hopes and dreams. No matter what you say though, even if you’re prepared with an answer, that question can feel ominous. What do you want to do? How can we know what we should do, and more, how are we supposed to know if it’s what we need to do? This question far surpasses our education.

We are forced to make choices every day. Some are simple and some feel impossible. But with every choice we make, we are determining what we view as something we want vs. something we need.

Video Summary

There’s a way to know if the choices you make every day are best for you.

In 1943, Abraham Maslow created what would be known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.[1] Maslow theorized that the human brain, being a complex system filled with ever-changing processes and priorities, was constantly motivated by various levels of needs. The Hierarchy would be illustrated in a pyramid shape to easily portray what we needed most and what motivated us the least.

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    Today, the Hierarchy remains a useful framework for sociology research, management training and psychology.

    To make the right choices, identify what you need most first.

    The pyramid suggests that we need all the elements listed, but someare primitive needs (think: physiology and safety) while others have only just become important to the human race (think: social and ego).[2]

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    To break down the needs in the pyramid, the following list will break out the sub categories of each, beginning with the most important and ending with the least important.

    • Physiological: Breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion.
    • Safety: Security of body, employment, resources, morality, family, health and property.
    • Love/Belonging: Friendship, family, sexual intimacy.
    • Esteem: Self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others.
    • Self-Actualization: Morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem-solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts.

    The Physiological, Safety, Love/Belonging and Esteem levels of the pyramid are known as ‘deficiency needs.’ If these needs aren’t met, such as eating, drinking and sleeping, then we can’t feel safe physically or mentally. This ultimately impacts our ability to meet the needs we have for friendship and social existence which all leads to a severe blow to our self-esteem. But if we can meet those deficiency needs, then we can begin to conquer self-actualization.

    Not surprisingly, only some people are able to meet these self-actualization needs, as they require honesty, independence, awareness, objectivity and originality. These traits can be challenging to acquire.

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    And what you need most may change throughout your life.

    The five stages presented by Maslow do not all have to happen simultaneously, or even in the same year. In fact, the five stages usually happen throughout the span of someone’s life. For instance, if you are trying to pay off a credit card, but a medical emergency causes you to go into debt, you’ve lost your financial safety, essentially starting you over from the base of the pyramid. But the reverse is true, too.

    People who have not had their needs met in one area might also have their needs from another stage sufficiently met. For example, a person in poor health who has little financial security may be part of a community, have an intimate partner, and maintain close relationships with family and friends. Thus, the person’s safety needs are not adequately met, but community and belonging needs are.[3]

    Maslow created the theory in order to track growth and development in human beings. He started with infants, as it stands to reason their most basic needs are met (food, water, shelter, cleanliness). But Maslow determined the other stages by examining people in all walks and stages of life. He even added a couple more stages later in his life: Cognitive and aesthetic. Finally, Viktor Frankl, a psychologist in the 20th century, added self-transencdence to the hierarchy. This brought the final count to 8.

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      Though we have always made decisions based on needs, whether we considered Maslow or not, knowing more about the Hierarchy can be immensely helpful. Maslow himself assured people that failure to meet certain needs at various stages of life and development could lead to mental health issues and even physical illness. If this sounds dramatic to you, think about it: If you don’t feel safe, you can become anxious and paranoid. If you don’t feel loved or as if you belong, you can become depressed. Lack of self-esteem can lead to the inability to self-actualize and even become suicidal.

      When you understand how needs work, you know how to motivate yourself and others.

      Because the Hierarchy is all about motivation by needs, understanding how it works can help you, not only in your own life, but at work.

      If you are doing a group project or involved in a team or small staff at work, understanding how those around you are motivated can help you understand how to properly communicate with them. The model can help you gain a better understanding of what motivates those around you. This can be helpful in devising a plan to keep your team happy. Remember, assuming everyone is motivated by money is not always the best way to approach something. If economically times are hard, money may not be flowing the way it usually does. In that scenario, it’s important to know how else to keep your team motivated.[4]

      • Provide Resources. If you’re a manager, consider allowing your employees to cross-train, or receive special projects and assignments. If an employee feels especially important, it helps meet their esteem needs.[5]
      • Provide Security. Simple gestures like ensuring an employee has business cards and a meaningful job title can also work wonders when it comes to esteem.
      • Avoid a secretive work place. If an employee feels like they aren’t allowed to know certain aspects about the company or its plans, it can take away their feeling of security. While it is not always a possibility to let your employees know every single detail, try to be open about what you can, and if it’s confidential for a reason, let them know that, too.
      • Be social. Whether you’re a manager or a coworker, don’t act as if no one can speak to you. While a workplace should be professional and not treated as a time for socializing only, it is still important to create a welcoming environment in which employees can speak to each other. This fulfills the social need.
      • Be aware of the choices you make. Every time you make a decision, you are fulfilling some kind of need. Make a note on your smartphone or in you planner of big and small decisions and see where you fit on the Hierarchy. Are you doing things to give yourself financial security? Social? As you become more self-aware, decision making will become easier and also more meaningful.

      So what do you think? Does the Hierarchy make sense to you, or is decision making purely based on your opinions, rather than your needs?

      Reference

      More by this author

      Heather Poole

      Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

      The 7 Types of Learners: What Kind of Learner Am I? What If All the Choices You Make Every Day Aren’t What You Need Most? What To Eat (And Not To Eat) When You Are Suffering From Inflammation! Yes Life Can Be Boring Sometimes. But There’re Some Tricks to Make It More Interesting Why Our Personal Values Matter More Than Ever Today

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      Last Updated on March 17, 2020

      4 Simple Ways to Make Boring Work Become Interesting

      4 Simple Ways to Make Boring Work Become Interesting

      Are you bored at work right now?

      Sitting at your desk, wishing you could be anywhere other than here, doing anything else…?

      You’re not alone.

      Even when you have a job you love, it’s easy to get bored. And if your job isn’t something you’re passionate about, it’s even easier for boredom to creep in.

      Did you know it’s actually possible to make any job more interesting?

      That’s right.

      Whether it’s data entry or shelf stacking, even the most mind-numbing of jobs can be made more fun.

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      Understanding the science behind boredom is the first step to beating it.

      Read on to learn the truth about boredom, and what you can do to stop feeling bored at work for good.

      VIDEO SUMMARY

      I’m bored – as you’re watching the same film over and over again, even though it’s your favorite one

      When you experience something new, your brain releases opioids – chemicals which make you feel good. [1]

      It’s the feeling you might get when you taste a new food for the first time, watch a cool new film, or meet a new person.

      However, the next time you have the same experience, the brain processes it in a different way, without releasing so many feel-good chemicals.

      That’s why you won’t get the same thrill when you eat that delicious meal for the tenth time, rewatch that film again, or spend time with the same friend.

      So, in a nutshell, we get bored when we aren’t having any new experiences.

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      Now, new experiences don’t have to be huge life changes – they could be as simple as taking a different route to work, or picking a different sandwich shop for lunch.

      We’re going to apply this theory to your boring job.

      Keep reading find out how to make subtle changes to the way you work to defeat boredom and have more fun.

      Your work can be much more interesting if you learn these little tricks.

      Ready to learn how to stop feeling so bored at work?

      We’ve listed some simple suggestions below – you can start implementing these right now.

      Let’s do this.

      Make routine tasks more interesting by adding something new

      Sometimes one new element is all it takes to turn routine tasks from dull to interesting.

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      Maybe there’s a long drive you have to make every single week. You get so bored, going the same old route to make the same old deliveries.

      Why not make it a routine to create a playlist of new music each Sunday, to listen to on your boring drive during the week?

      Just like that, something you dread can be turned into the highlight of your day.

      For other routine tasks, you could try setting a timer and trying to beat your record, moving to a new location to complete the task, or trying out a new technique for getting the work done – you might even improve your productivity, too.

      Combine repetitive tasks to get them out of the way

      Certain tasks are difficult to make interesting, no matter how hard you try.

      Get these yawn-inducing chores out of the way ASAP by combining them into one quick, focused batch.

      For example, if you hate listening to meeting recordings, and dislike tidying your desk, do them both at the same time. You’ll halve the time you spend bored out of your mind, and can move onto more interesting tasks as soon as you’re done.

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      Break large tasks into small pieces and plan breaks between them

      Feeling overwhelmed can lead you to procrastinate and get bored. Try breaking up large tasks into lots of small pieces to keep things manageable and fun.

      Try breaking up a 10,000 word report into 1000-word sections. Reward yourself at the end of each section, and you’ll get 10 mini mood boosts, instead of just one at the end.

      You can also plan short breaks between each section, which will help to prevent boredom and keep you focused.

      Give yourself regular rewards, it can be anything that makes you feel good

      Make sure you reward yourself for achievements, even if they feel small.

      Rewards could include:

      • Eating your favourite snack.
      • Taking a walk in a natural area.
      • Spending a few minutes on a fun online game.
      • Buying yourself a small treat.
      • Visiting a new place.
      • Spending time on a favourite hobby.

      Your brain will come to associate work with fun rewards, and you’ll soon feel less bored and more motivated.

      Boredom doesn’t have to be a fact of life.

      Make your working life feel a thousand times more fun by following the simple tips above.

      Reference

      [1] Psychology Today: Why People Get Bored

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