If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself making a New Year resolution on December 31 only to find you’ve broken it before the end of January. Determined every year, that this year will be different, and yet still not being able to stick to the plan.
What is the reason so many well-intentioned resolutions fail? The answer is simple, if your goal is not aligned to your values, the probability of success is dismal.
Our values or our needs in life are what drives us, creates the desires, forms our emotions, produces our actions and ultimately establishes our personalities.
Though we are ultimately unique, our nervous systems function in the same way and we have six identifiable, principle needs in common, towards which we constantly strive.
These needs are; Certainty/Comfort, Uncertainty/Variety, Significance, Connection/Love, Growth, and Contribution.
1. Certainty (Comfort): A need to feel secure, safe and comfortable now, and with an assurance of these things in the future also. Avoidance of pain and painful situations is very important and a lack of certainty can bring about severe anxiety.
2. Uncertainty (Variety): Happiness is derived from having different experiences and challenges of emotional, intellectual and physical intensities. Suspense, surprise and excitement are consistently sought after.
3. Significance: A desire to feel important and respected. To be considered unique and special is consistently required and the need to be looked up to even feared is craved.
4. Connection (Love): Worthiness here comes from the need to give and receive love. There is an underlying belief that there must be meaningful connections with all and that if love is not received, it cannot be given.
5. Growth: Constantly developing new skills, learning new things and improving at what is already known. It is a desire to develop not only physically and intellectually but on a spiritual level also.
6. Contribution: A desire to give back to others and leave a mark on the world. Life is incomplete without a sense of making a contribution to others or to a cause. It is a need to go above and beyond one’s own requirements and give to others.
Depending on how well our goals fit our most valued need, will determine how likely we are to succeed at our goal.
We have many ways of being able to achieve all of the six needs in our life, and we all value our needs in different orders and levels of intensity. The first four needs can be met superficially, while genuinely meeting the last two needs, Growth and Contribution, will result in true fulfillment.
Our needs can be met positively, with great effect to others, or they can be met with damaging or harmful effect on others.
We each generally prioritise two of the six human needs above all others; Certainty & Connection or Uncertainty & Significance, for example. These individual blends of needs create the cornerstone of our actions and behaviours, consciously and subconsciously. There are boundless ways in which people meet the six human needs. The fulfilment of the human need for variety; the need for the unknown, and for change; for one person could mean taking a break from the office to go for a walk in the fresh air, while another person might partake in various extreme sports to fulfil their desires.
The need for significance could be fulfilled by competing with others, by destroying those around them emotional or financially, or it might be gained through attaining the greatest emotional connection with another person.
We are all driven by an underlying desire for fulfilment, a need to experience a life of meaning. Though the first four needs can be met, even by illusion, without the attainment of needs of both Growth and Contribution, true fulfilment cannot be achieved.
To continually grow and contribute beyond ourselves in a significant manor is the key to true fulfilment. Dysfunctional behaviours arise from failing to consistently meet these needs. Without the attainment of Growth and Contribution we can find ourselves instead reaching for the realisation of the other needs, Comfort for example on a disproportionate scale, or we may find ourselves unwittingly accepting our needs being met on a disempowering level. By understanding the six human needs, recognising our own unique needs pattern and replacing any disempowering ways of meeting our needs, with things that inspire and support both ourselves and others, we can help to create new patterns which in turn can lead to change and true lasting fulfilment.
Work out what’s important to you. What makes you tick, brings a smile to your face, makes you feel whole inside? What motivates you, makes you stand up and be noticed, enables you to go over and above the expected? Conversely, what makes you mad, upsets you, stresses you out?
Make a list of everything that comes to mind with these questions and add as many more as you feel appropriate. Then, consider which of the of the six needs are playing the leading roles in your life.
What has to change to make the difference for you? What can you do differently to positively meet your needs? Will changing the order of the needs you live your life by make the difference?
Then, by combining the knowledge of the needs which mean the most to you, with the breaking down your goal and understanding what it is about the goal that meets those needs, you will gain the success you have been striving for.
Happy New Year.