An Exploration of Need Versus Want

Nov. 21st, 2016

People often say “I need this” and that is perfectly valid. Every human being has many needs. Those needs may be difficult to define, articulate, and get met, but they exist.

Do we ever stop to question what it is we need those things to do? This is why another way I define the concept of “need”, as opposed to want, is the word “required”. In order to ski, a strong argument can be made that a person needs skis. They may want expensive skis, they may have an easier time skiing with a certain type of ski, and they may not even want to ski at all, but they definitely need skis in order to ski.

So when we say “I need this”, I would want to examine that. The examination might allow us to determine if that desire is a need or a want.

I often say “I need sleep”. That's a vague idea. What I really mean is “I need to have high quality sleep, for approximately nine hours, beginning at 10PM in order to be most productive in life.” So, logically, if I wasn't aiming to be productive, I wouldn't have this need. This need is in aid of productivity. I want to be productive because I need to financially support myself. For that goal I need to be productive enough to sustain the amount of work that allows for a supporting income.

I believe this is a lot of what coaches do. They look for the wheat germ of the goals and needs and assist in separating it from the chaff of everything else in life. In order to help determine what is a need versus a want, it can help to first know what it is you need that thing to accomplish.

What do you need?