Knowing yourself is the single most important thing you can possibly do to live a more fulfilling life.
I’m not talking about horoscopes or finding quotes that resonate with you on Tumblr, Instagram or Pinterest. I’m talking about understanding personality styles, knowing why you do the things you do, how your habits are created and learning about your basic needs.
I don’t mean food, shelter and water… I’m talking about the things that you need to be happy and fulfilled.
The six things that we all need are certainty, variety, significance, love and connection, growth, and contribution.
We all need all six of them, we just prioritize them differently.
The Six Basic Human Needs
Certainty is our need for routine. The fact that we know where we keep our toothbrush every morning and we can trust the people we come home to. If your number one is certainty, you will likely make decisions that keep you in your comfort zone and you are probably uncomfortable with change. You might even fight back because change is taking away the single most important thing to you – stability.
Uncertainty (or Variety) is our need for change. This is why we go on vacations, meet new people and read. It’s our way of continuing to see and do new things so that life doesn’t get boring. The people whose number one is variety might resist routine, constantly be looking for new people and experiences and might find it hard to maintain strong relationships.
Significance is our need to feel important and appreciated. This is the part of us that wants to receive recognition for the things that we do and wants people to notice us. If your number one is significance, you may be coming off like you are self-absorbed and constantly seeking opportunities for recognition.
Love (or Connection) is our need to feel connected to another person. This is different than significance because you can feel connected to or love for someone without feeling important. If your number one is love/connection, you may have a hard time letting go of people (even when they don’t deserve to be in your life) and you likely feel emotions very deeply.
Growth is our need to constantly be growing. This is a need of the soul. Regardless of how you religiously identify yourself, you cannot deny that you don’t feel amazing when you’re learning. I’m not talking about sitting in a classroom and being lectured at, but actually learning. Whether that’s experiencing new things, watching documentaries, reading, attending workshops or going through courses. If your number one is growth, the challenge that you’ll have to worry about is the curse of knowledge (forgetting what it was like not to know what you’ve learned) and being able to communicate with people who don’t have that same knowledge in a way that doesn’t belittle them.
Contribution is our need to give. This is also a need of the soul. When you’re giving, you feel good. It’s that simple. If your number one is contribution, you are probably always looking for opportunities to give back. Your challenge will likely be making sure that you don’t burn out or get taken advantage of.
What’s Your Priority?
Your number one can change throughout your life and likely will.
What’s most important to you now might be different than it will be in 5 years from now or even six months ago. If you’re having a hard time figuring out what your number one is, I’ve created a free workbook to help you figure it out. You can download it right here, right now.
Once you’ve created your vision and set some goals and started getting back in balance, it’s time to ask yourself which of the needs should be your priority.
When I learned about the six basic human needs, I was at Unleash the Power Within with Tony Robbins. What I loved about this is that he asked the audience of 9,000 people to raise their hand with whichever one is number one. Guess which ones were the most popular?
Significance and certainty.
Here’s what Tony said… If your number one is significance or certainty, you’ll never be fully happy.
Because you’re not always going to be the most important (significance) and the only constant thing in life is change (certainty).
Before learning about this, maybe you’ve been living with certainty as your primary need and you realize that if you want to reach those massive, crazy goals, you need to be leading with growth. When you change your focus priority, your perspective will change and your activities should start to change.
The formula for fulfillment is growth and contribution so it’s no wonder that so many people are miserable in their careers…
They don’t get to see the impact that they’re making on people’s lives and they’re not taking growth opportunities.
The average 9-5 job isn’t conducive to the needs of the soul, the needs that make us feel fulfilled. Fulfilled employees create a powerful culture around production, passion and high standards.
As a leader or employer, you can make sure that you’re creating opportunities for your employees to grow. That doesn’t mean you have to constantly be giving promotions out. Start investing in their growth and create opportunities for them to give back. That means doing powerful trainings regularly (onboarding and never training them again isn’t training), encouraging them to go to outside trainings and courses, offering empowering coaching that forces them to look within and leading powerful conversations with your team.
As an employee, if your company isn’t doing either of those things, you have an opportunity. Firstly, you can go ahead and share this article with them (*this is a shameless plug to get you to share this*) and you can start taking it into your own hands. Look for opportunities to give back on your own and find opportunities to grow. The most fulfilling life is created when you can combine the two. I have the honor of getting to experience this every day with leading my young professionals organization. I grow as a leader almost every day and have the opportunity to be part of the growth of all of these other people.
Your life is yours so don’t wait for opportunities to fall into your lap. Go out there and find them on your own.
Addiction + Depression
Addiction and depression aren’t all that different from each other…
They’re both ways of coping with hopelessness.
In the TED talk, Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong, Johann Gari brought us this crazy idea that the opposite of addiction is connection.
We’re all dying to be connected to something or something and when we don’t have that, we find ourselves addicted to whatever gives you that connection.
Let’s take that a step further….
When your needs aren’t being met, you’re going to end up depressed or find something to fill that hole (aka addiction).
In fact, for something (or someone) to be addictive, it (or they) only need to fill three of your needs.
During Unleash the Power Within, Tony asks the audience how many people know someone who is on anti-depressants but is still depressed. I was surprised to see that about 95% of the audience raised their hands.
Tony used the example of a single mom with depression and how they can actually be addicted to being depressed.
That blew my mind.
As the woman spoke about her life, how she loves her kids and she doesn’t make herself a priority, you start to realize that when she goes into depression mode, it actually FILLS three of those needs.
- Certainty: She knows that she can always get to her depressed place. Even when everything is in chaos, being able to always get there is comforting. Plus, our brains are wired to continue having the same thought patterns that we’ve always had.
- Significance: She always felt like she had to put her kids first, but when she was in her depressed state, she allowed herself to be first. By allowing herself to be first, she met the need of significance.
- Connection: By being depressed, her family and friends checked on her more often and her kids were less demanding and more appreciative of the things that she did for them.
You could probably argue that a few of the others could relate as well, but by getting into her depressed state, she was able to meet enough of her needs that depression became depressed.
Here’s another example for you:
There was a married woman who was having an affair. She kept saying that she loved her husband but the other man made her feel alive.
He asked her to point out which of the needs that her husband was meeting, and she pointed out certainty, love/connection and growth.
He then asked her to point out which of the needs that the other man was meeting and she pointed out variety and significance. While she loved her husband, he was always working and was never home but the new man gave her all of the attention that she needed and added the spice to her life that she was looking for.
She wasn’t having an affair because she didn’t love her husband. She was having an affair because her husband wasn’t meeting all of her needs. People are willing to sacrifice their values in order to fulfill their basic needs.
The basic human needs force you to look at the why, rather than the what.
By looking at people and situations this way, you’re able to understand from a place of compassion and understanding rather than judgment and when you understand where your own needs are lacking, you’ll be able to take control to find a solution, too.
If you’re feeling like you need to figure out your basic needs and who you need to become, this is the free workbook for you!