Interesting enough Maslow seemed more confused closer to death than near certainty. I think he was spot on with the b values but so t think I’d map them to a pyramid. It’s more like you need a portal to get there (maybe a sabbatical or quitting your job!).

This is where all social science theories fall flat. They make some elementary assumptions about what a “normal” adult should be doing.

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Google herzberg two factors theory

It’s essentially the same thing but more precise than millerds

Let me give a very summarized version of herzberg

Most people think happy and unhappy are two ends of the same spectrum hence opposite of happy is unhappy

Herzberg theory says happy and unhappy are actually their own separate spectrums (once you understand this, everything else becomes easy to understand and remember)

So you have happy vs not happy as two ends of one spectrum

Unhappy vs not unhappy as two ends of a diff spectrum

Happy spectrum affected by meaning related factors like purpose etc

Unhappy spectrum affected by hygiene factors like money

Think of a 2x2 where your axes are happy and unhappy axes

So you have

Quadrant 1: happy and not unhappy (ideal situation)

Q2: not happy and not unhappy (think abt your rich but unfulfilled banker as stereotype)

Q3: unhappy and happy (think abt your dirt poor social worker who has issues making rent but making an impact in community)

Q4: unhappy and not happy (worst case - poorly paid in unfulfilling job)

You can of course do the Maslow pyramid thing and start by concentrating on solving hygiene factor problem first

But I don’t think it’s a one size fits all

I have seen people who focus on solving for meaning first because somehow they will auto (and indeed) end up solving hygiene factors along the way

Even the same person may end up changing their approach because their experiences n strengths n commitments are different at different stages of their life

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Also I see that your three factors of Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose closely resemble self determination theory’s three factors


I personally find these three factors useful but not enough as I tend to interpret them closer to meaning factors as per Herzburg’s

Another similar motivation theory like SDT but with more factors is David Rock’s SCARF

as in Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, Fairness

I kinda combine all three (SDT, SCARF, Herzberg’s) to make sense of what I care about

So SDT + SCARF gives me about 6 factors because autonomy and relatedness are repeated in both

Status I divide into internal and external

Internal status for me is driven by mastery

External status is driven by credentials and humble brags

Then I broadly group these 6 or 7 ( if you split status into internal and external ) into hygiene and meaning as per Herzberg

Finally I don’t see these factors only as goals or objectives to aim at for my ideal lifestyle. I see them more like there’s a minimal threshold I need in each of these 7 factors

And the minimum threshold in these factors may change as I grow older

Every time I feel depressed, it’s usually because one or more factors I am not hitting the bare minimum to be ok

Then there’s another threshold in each factor for me to feel I’m living at an optimal level

So these minimum threshold levels are more like constraints to meet or exceed rather than outright goals to aim at

I know I sound like I’m describing myself as a character in SIMCITY video game with different bar charts 📊 but it’s a very useful way for me to think that way 😅

All of this is based on felt sense so I have to learn how to trust myself even when it doesn’t seem logical to other people

And I’m getting better at this over time

One thing I have discovered over time is my minimum level for autonomy is higher than your average person

Initially I resisted this interpretation but over time I realized no point fighting against my inner nature

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