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An Overachiever's Hierarchy of Needs

Today, I'm writing to you from Odessa, Ukraine. Totally did not plan on being here. The only thing I knew about Ukraine is that the Ukrainian figure skater Oksana Baiul who won the gold medal in 1994. And the only thing I knew about Odessa is that it's by the sea. I love the sea <3

 

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

You may know Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs:

 

  • Physiological needs: air, food, water, shelter, warmth
  • Safety needs: protection, security, law, income, stability, health, insurance
  • Love & Belonging needs: friendship, family, connection, intimacy, support, affection (This need is especially strong in childhood and can override the need for safety as seen in children who cling to abusive parents. Neglect can adversely affect the individual's ability to form and maintain emotionally significant relationships!)
  • Esteem needs: "lower" needs: status, recognition, attention | "higher" needs: self-respect, mastery, self-confidence, independence, and freedom
  • Cognitive needs: pursuit of knowledge, self-awareness, meaning
  • Aestetic needs: pursuit and appreciation of beauty, balance, inner reflection
  • Self-actualization needs: realize your potential, self-fulfillment
  • Self-transcendence needs: helping others to realize their potential, spirituality

 

An Overachiever's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's hierarchy of needs looks like a pyramid. A woman overachiever's hierarchy of needs looks more like an Inukshuk.

 

An Overachiever's Physiological Needs

Have you ever been “in the zone” and forgotten to eat or sleep? Have your bladders ever screamed at you, but you ignored them to  answer one more email? When was the last time you got some fresh air or slept for 8 hours every night for a whole week? When was the last time you were free from caffeine or anxiety?

The truth is... overworked overachievers are notorious at shrinking their Physiological needs: 

 

An Overachiever's Safety Needs

Do you never have enough time? Are you swirling in busy-ness? Do you wake up overwhelmed, bare a smile all day and come home exhausted? Does your life feel like chaos, even though you love spreadsheets?

Because you cherish growth, your life is never predictable. Because you love travel, you're always looking over your shoulder for danger. Because you're always launching new projects, you fear not having a big enough safety net. When was the last time you truly felt safe and taken care of?

The truth is... overworked overachievers are notorious at shrinking their Safety needs: 

 

An Overachiever's Love & Belonging Needs 

You've always been different, never felt like you belonged. You outgrew your "small town" and family of origin very early on. You grow so fast that you no longer have anything in common with the people who were closest to you.

You've learned to do everything yourself, becoming a badass  lone wolf, which leads to loneliness, social anxiety and clinical depression.

The truth is... overworked overachievers are notorious at meeting their lop-sidded Love & Belonging needs:

 

An Overachiever's Self-Esteem Needs

You are already successful (unless you've forgotten about your 6 mile long resume)! You’ve had good jobs. You've moved up the ladder. People around you admire you. Heck, people want to be you!

But you get sucker punched by your inner critic. You get whacked on the head by self-doubt. And you get suffocated by perfectionism. On the inside, it's a hard life!

The truth is... overworked overachievers are notorious at pushing their Self-esteem needs to the side:

 

An Overachiever's Cognitive Needs

You love learning. You have multiple degrees and certifications. You are raving fans of Brené Brown, Oprah and/or Louise Hay. You are hyper self-awareness and love deep meaningful conversations.

In short, you are a self-development junkie, like me!

The truth is... overworked overachievers are famous for prioritizing their massive Cognitive needs:

 

An Overachiever's Aesthetic Needs

You would love to have more time for beauty, balance, luxury and inner reflection, but rarely have time for it, because you're the strong one running around putting out everyone else's fire.

The truth is... overworked overachievers are notorious for slacking on their Aesthetic needs:

 

An Overachiever's Self-actualization Needs

You have a 6 mile long resume, built schools in Africa, completed marathons, traveled all over the world, and/or run businesses or departments. You continually strive to be your best self, but you wish it would happen faster.

Self-actualization is such a bit part of your life that it often squashes your aesthetic needs. Why smell the roses when you can work like a robot, right?

The truth is... overworked overachievers are addicted to meeting their Self-actualization needs:

 

Why Women Rarely Reach Self-transcendence

Women rarely reach self-transcendence because:

  • Reason 1: Self-transcendence gets stuck between their big head (Cognitive needs) and their big heart (Self-actualization needs). They want to help others self-actualize, but they themselves are stuck:

 

  • Reason 2: Self-transcendence is pursued with such force that it rolls right off the pyramid. They want to help others self-actualize, but they themselves haven't yet.

 

5 Ways to Reset and Feel Free

I hope this gives you some peace, dear overachiever, that you aren't doing anything wrong. And there is nothing wrong with you. Our needs are simply different. We've never fit into the mold and we're not about to start now.

Check out 5 Ways to Reset and Feel Free for the simplest baseline solutions!

 

A digital nomad's hierarchy of needs

A shout out for my fellow digital nomad's ;)

Freedom on!

xo, Ella

Ellany LeaAbout the Author • Ellany Lea is an elite success coach. She's traveled 100+ countries and writes about freedom at the intersection of: entrepreneurship, enlightenment, and enchantment.
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