When most people think of self-actualization they think of the finished product, of the actualized traits and abilities that make up a unique individual. They don’t necessarily consider the journey, the time and effort it takes behind the scenes to get to the point where traits and abilities are polished, tangible, obvious.
That journey has to start somewhere. Probably the reason more of us don’t take the first step on the path of self-actualization is that it starts with isolating potentialities and potentialities are by their very nature ephemeral, like wisps of smoke. The choice to pursue some endeavor in order to unfold a potentiality is guided more by your heart than by your logic. Stimuli in your environment call out to you, beckoning you forward, though you can’t explain to yourself or anyone else exactly why.
When you’re already pretty good at something the path is relatively clear. Keep developing yourself in that area to get even better, keep unfolding those traits and abilities in order to reach a level of mastery. But that already pretty good at something state is the intermediate stage of self-actualization that started with isolating and unfolding a latent potentiality. Isolating potentialities probably comes down to a state of readiness, a state of non-judgmental awareness where you listen to that tiny, barely perceptible voice telling you, “This is something I think I like, this is something I want to know more about.”
In our view the reason so many people quit at the various endeavors they choose to pursue is that these endeavors don’t represent their unique path, they don’t provide for the opportunity to unfold their unique potentialities that, if actualized, would amount to letting them become that which they really are. Therefore their deepest Self, that part of them who knows what they are and what they can be, rebels against their wrongly chosen path. Consciously they come up with some rationalization for why it’s not working out and they give up.
If a chosen life journey doesn’t allow for the unfolding of who and what you really are there’s little chance you’ll keep striving forward in the face of all the time and effort that the journey implies. When you know you’re on the path of becoming there’s effort but there’s also joy, meaning, and fulfillment. When you’re on the path of non-becoming there’s only effort, there’s little to pull you forward and much to make you give up. Choosing the path of becoming, the path of self-actualization, starts with isolating potentialities and this means becoming more sensitive to the small signs, to the ephemeral cues, to the barely conscious thoughts and feelings urging you to explore a certain area further.