According to a famous psychologist, Maslow, humankind have different levels of needs.
The highest level of needs is to be self-actualized. In this regard, we can think of self-actualization as the ultimate goal of human life. The top of the mountain where everyone aspires to reach.
At low level, people need foods, clothes, houses, cars and all material things. When people fed up with these physical stuffs, they aim for social status such as to be recognised, to be famous, to be part of a community. Beyond social needs, we want to be self-actualized, meaning to be able to achieve the full capacity of our potential and also help others to achieve their potential, too. It’s a kind of need but more spiritual than physical or social.
Very few people can reach the stage of self-actualization. In fact, most of use would not reach there til the end of our lives. Still, it is a goal in life. It is a goal in term of human development.
To gauge whether or not a person is self-actualized, several characteristics can be observed. For instance, a self-actualized person is usually energetic in whatever he does or goes after. He does it not because of money or fame. He does not focus on his own needs but rather on others. He wants the task to be accomplished regardless of who did the task.
Also, the person is likely to be happy. He likely has sense of humor, able to admit to this own fault, has low level of stereotyping, flexible and can be alone sometime to reflex his own thoughts.