Most of us think we know what we need in life, but do we really?  In 1943 Abraham Maslow published the paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” detailing his theory about the hierarchy of human needs, which he put into five categories.

  1. Physiological needs, i.e., breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homoeostasis, and excretion.
  2. Safety needs, i.e., security of body, employment resources, morality, the family, health and property.
  3. Loving/belonging needs, i.e., friendship, family, sexual intimacy.
  4. Esteem needs, i.e., self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others, and.
  5. Self-Actualization needs, i.e., morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts.

Most of us have seen these at some point in our lives, probably in a science or psychology class or other academic situation.  But aside from the obvious, i.e., the need to breathe, for food and water etc., I have never been able to apply these needs to everyday life in any meaningful way.

Then a week ago I came across a discourse about “vital-needs”—those things that are vital to our enjoyment of daily life, including our jobs, family, friends and individual pursuits.

For example, if a person’s vital needs aren’t met on the job, they’re not likely to be very productive from 9:00 to 5:00.  At the same time, meeting vital needs is critically important when dealing with the daily stresses in our lives.  The more of our vital needs that are met the better we can effectively deal with life’s stresses.

With the above in mind, here’s an exercise that you may find revealing.  Below is a list of 25 “vital needs” (there may be more, but for our purposes here let’s stick with these.)  First read the list and then take a few minutes to rank them in order of importance in your life.

If you’re like the majority of people, you’ll find the first seven are absolutely essential to your well-being and reducing stress, while the last seven could almost be in any order and would make very little difference in our lives.

After arranging them, write down two ways you can get each of your ‘vital needs’ met, and then share your notes with those important or close to you.  Knowing another person’s vital needs is essential to creating harmonious relationships; and most people find it particularly enlightening when they do this exercise in conjunction their spouse or significant other and with their children.

As an aside, managers would be wise to learn and understand the vital needs of their employees, because armed with such information, the employer would likely increase productivity, reduce workplace accidents and attract high-performing workers.

  1. Personal time – time to do your own thing. Pursue a hobby, read, shop, fish, ski, or whatever
  2. The need to give and do for others – family, community, church
  3. Recognition – from work, family or community
  4. Movement – a daily need for walking, sports or exercise
  5. Sleep – you day does not go right unless you get a certain amount of sleep
  6. Approval and acceptance – from family, coworkers or friends
  7. Order & closure – you dislike open-ended situation, tasks, affairs, projects or goals and want things in your life orderly.
  8. Time alone – a daily time for reflection and thought while alone
  9. Territory – an area of physical space that is your own
  10. Financial Security – income and outgo must me in balance, having enough money that you need not worry about it.
  11. Being with people – high need for relationships
  12. Competition – with self, others, in sports
  13. Learning something – new acquiring information that’s stimulating and exciting
  14. Anticipation – looking forward to something such as taking trips
  15. Listening to music – through mechanical means or playing an instrument
  16. Having a project – being creatively involved with ideas
  17. Touching – physical contact with others
  18. Variety of experience – need for something new and different
  19. Structured time – schedule on routine are important
  20. Unstructured time – you do not like structure and routine
  21. One-on-one attention – a preference and desire for one on one relationships
  22. Group relationships – need for interaction with groups rather than one person
  23. Empathy – you need people important to you to understand what you are feeling
  24. Humor – need to laugh
  25. Spirituality – pursue beliefs through meditation or fellowship with other individuals

Quote of the day: It is more important to know where you are going than to get there quickly.” – Mabel Newcomber

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