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Innovating Through Impact Pyramid - Maslow’s Hierarchy for Careers

Updated: Feb 27

We spend the majority of our waking hours on our careers. Yet, so many of us don’t feel fully fulfilled. Yes, it does pay the bills; Yes, it is a source of stability; and yes our work might even fit our backgrounds or personality. But what is still missing? The innovating Through Impact Pyramid structures our needs towards career into five levels, which will help you understand what you are still missing and how to get there!


01. Physiological needs 

At the very foundation, we are living beings and have basic survival needs for food, shelter, and clothing. These are physiological needs. in a professional context, at the most fundamental level, a person must be able to sustain a living with their job. 

What does this mean for career planning?

To meet physiological needs, we take any job for the sake of survival: part-time. on-call, minimum-wage jobs.

02. Security needs

Once our survival needs have been met, we want to be secure. we want to be secure. We are concerned about protecting our health, property, and personal security.

What does this mean for career planning?

To meet safety and security needs, we then strive for permanent full-time jobs with benefits (health, retirement) and want to know the company we work for will still be in existence on Monday after we leave work on Friday. 

03. Love and belonging

Then we move up to desiring family and friends, to feel connected, and to be intimate with someone. This satisfies our need for love and belonging. at this level, we want to be part of a group. 

What does this mean for career planning?

To meet our need for Love and Belonging, we seek to work with people we like, are similar to us. We want to work in an industry we know about, and is suited for us. (Eg: A extreme introvert working as a hostess)

04. Self-esteem

Once we are part of a group, we want to be respected by that group. we want to be recognised, have status, and grow our self-esteem. we want to rise above the group to meet our esteem needs.

What does this mean for career planning? 

To meet our esteem needs for respect, status and recognition,  we want our contributions to be recognised and appreciated. We want our work to be meaningful to the company, and see the fruition of our work realized. Negative Example (Working a year on a internal project that never is needed and used)

05. Self- actualization

Then finally, we reach the top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, where we are able to pursue the impact we want to create in our work, aligning our base levels of the pyramid with our personal mission.

What does this mean for career planning?

To feel self actualized in a career, we need to first understand the impact we hope to achieve in our lifetime -- and then find a job or a role where we feel like we are tackling that problem. (Negative example : Working in defense of personal injury cases when your true passion is solving climate change)

Want to know more about psychologies in building an impactful career? Keep an eye on our new book:


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