Self-actualization is the mission to become the best one can be. It involves deciding what is desired from life and then doing what is necessary to accomplish that. The term was coined by psychologist Abraham Maslow to describe the ongoing process of fully developing one’s personal potential, and refers to the degree to which one’s needs and wishes are met. The first thing to note about self-actualization is that it is a process, not a goal. In other words, self-actualization is not something that is aimed for; it is something that is achieved. The second thing to note is that self-actualization is not restricted to high-profile, high-achieving individuals; one need not become famous to self-actualize.
Studies over the years have shown that personal achievement is generated by at least two kinds of socialization practices: achievement training, where parents expect standards of excellence regarding tasks by setting high goals for the child; and independence training, where parents indicate to the child that they expect them to be self-reliant and provide autonomy in decision making.
In reviewing the traits of individuals in society over generations, there is a noteworthy evolution of personal values that push the individual toward greater personal fulfillment. Such personal achievement increases the responsibility of each individual for one’s success or failure and leads to more self-actualization. The evolution of a personal fulfillment ethos in a mass society supports a more cosmopolitan worldview.
In addition to adding to individual fulfillment, increased levels of achievement in pursuit of these values, within a society, contributes to a more satisfactory level of quality of life. All societies possess some level of these personal traits in its citizens. Some measure higher on the cumulative index scale and have been found to have a more acceptable quality-of-life while lower measurements show significant discord among its members.
An achievement profile derives from these early-learned factors and is structured in the young adult as ideals or a mission for one’s unfolding life. What one thinks about deeply is often what one becomes. Personal thought is creative and if it is the goal to become the best one can, then one should spend more than a little time contemplating in silence the end points. Through the use of imagination and visualization, the young person can actually imagine several possible life programs and visualize what it would be like positioned in that station in life. This trial and retrial contemplation process concludes with a basic set of goals for one’s life and the various objectives that focus these goals are established along the way into adulthood. Once goals and current objectives are determined by this trial and error method, one should constantly schedule tasks to insure first things are first and that the activities that are important to one’s goal are given a place in the schedule and are not way laid by daily issues.
At the risk of oversimplification let me put forward a practical application of the economics of self-reliance. When you consider what an individual born in a North American society in 2020 can be expected to produce in order to be deemed self-reliant in that individual’s lifetime, we need to construct an appropriate model to act as a guide to society’s expectation for such an individual to make a contribution to that society. The total dollar value of average family expenses over an expected independent (of parents) lifetime of sixty years is approximately two million dollars in constant 2020 US dollars. These expenses include transportation, travel, housing, health, education, food, insurance, clothing, entertainment, savings and other miscellaneous expenses for a decent middle-class standard-of-living.
This results in the requirement of a disposable family income of about $65,000 during an average thirty-three year working lifetime. Given the payment of taxes and other deductions from income a family would need approximately a $99,000 average annual gross income in 2020 dollars over their working life to be a self-reliant member of North American society. All of this assumes that the more catastrophic costs in life are predominately covered by the state’s social safety net and that within this household income there is an approximate five percent saving rate to take care of the some onetime costs and any inheritance considerations. Any total tax structure greater than this one-third contribution to the state is not economically sustainable in the long run and will only lead to divisions in society, too large an encroachment of the state, an erosion in the self-reliance of individuals and a diminishment of the developed nature of that society.
This average annual gross income is considered attainable by a two wage household but does require that each individual obtains the necessary training and skills needed to command this income, as well as, the necessary work ethic to insure this income over their working life. The corollary to this, of course, is that those able bodied persons in society who shrink from this commitment to become self-reliant and those who through chronic self-indulgence loss their motivation to be a net contributor to society place an unacceptable burden on paying residents of that society. It cannot be expected that a benevolent state will redistribute tax income to such individuals aiding in the delinquency of these individuals and alienating those who will now be required to earn more to pay the resultant increased taxes. Such individuals will need to rely on the generosity of family, charities, religious denominations or other voluntary groups for their sustenance. Only in such a system can it be expected that the vast majority of self-reliant individuals be motivated to keep their discipline and positive contributions to the society at large.