It is difficult to decide what goals you should aim to achieve if you are unsure of what you want in life. If this sounds like you than perhaps the psychologist Abraham Maslow can help. Maslow studied a number of exceptional people and documented what they strived for and what it is that motivated them. His paper, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, was published in 1943 and is still popular among psychologists today. His theory is that there are 5 levels of human needs and everyone will strive to fulfil these needs throughout their lifetime.

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Physiological needs

The first step or rather the lowest rung in Maslow’s hierarchy is physiological needs. These are also known as basic human needs and include food, water, shelter and air to breath. Luckily for most Australians, these needs are relatively easy to obtain. Even without investing, you should be able to meet these basic needs after retirement just through the use of superannuation and the pension.


The second rung on the hierarchy is almost as crucial to human life. Although safety might not be considered a basic human need, we all consider it to be a basic human right. Keeping yourself, your family, your property and your employment safe does take some planning on your part. Ensuring you have adequate insurance, whether that is life, home, car or income insurance is an important part of satisfying this need.

Love and belonging

Many therapists and relationship experts list money troubles as one of the leading causes of conflict between couples. They also contribute poor financial control as a major cause of divorce in Australia. I do not profess that money is the answer to all of life’s problems, nor do I believe that money can buy love. However, research does make it painfully obvious that having clear financial goals, and the resources to achieve them, can go a long way to reducing some of the stress in your relationships.


Esteem is another need that Maslow refers to as a sense of achievement, confidence and respect that you receive when you are reaching your potential. Whilst satisfying customers in your everyday job can fulfil this need, you may find it will only provide a temporary sense of achievement and you may need more. Imagine the sense of achievement and respect you would feel if you were able to provide funds for a cancer research facility, or perhaps a homeless shelter. With intelligent investing you would be able to fulfil such desires and contribute to society in a way you would have never imagined.


Self-actualisation is the highest level on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It refers to a person’s need to reach his or her’s maximum potential. Maslow describes this need by stating ‘a person must be in a position to use the full extent of his creativity, morality, spontaneity and problem solving abilities’. It is at this step that simply turning up to work in the military may fall short and where the need to invest is paramount.

Adviser’s Tip: When documenting your goals, it is a good idea to also align each of your goals with one of the needs from Maslow’s hierarchy. This will help you understand why your goals are important.