"I sometimes wonder if my work - helping people identify their passions and create careers that ignite them - is frivolous self-indulgence. It's 100% about self-actualization. Then I remind myself that part of what I'm doing is throwing pebbles in the pond. And the ripples from the self-actualization of the people I touch - what they actually go out and do, and the people they impact as a result - will inevitably make a difference. And some of those ripples will make a difference in areas that are much lower on Maslow's Hierarchy.This goes to the heart of one of my own reservations about the lifestylism concept -- the implied selfishness and even narcissism of focusing so much attention on what I (or you) want. But I also keep coming back to the concept of values, and I believe that what people really value also has the potential for positive impact in the world. The cynic in me sees everyone stepping on everyone else to get ahead...the optimist sees that when people are actually living in synch with their core values, they do good things and care about the needs of others.
So to the extent that self-actualization is about making a difference (I tend to believe that it is, at least in part), what might seem like self-indulgence is actually planting the seeds for positive change."
As an extension of these ideas, Curt's musing about work that makes a difference has some great discussion about our purpose in life and how it relates to our work.