Balancing Wants and Needs

Effectively balancing your wants and needs is a difficult feat for anyone. It’s completely natural to feel a stronger motivation to go after your immediate wants than take care of your higher needs; to go after things that are easier to attain in the present and provide immediate pleasure and feelings of achievement.

However, prioritizing your psychological and emotional needs in life – love, belonging, building self-esteem and achieving self-actualization – can reap important, substantial rewards in your life, however uncomfortable or difficult they may seem in the immediate present. Prioritizing your needs can also help you stay grounded, and fend off the anxiety and pressure many people begin to feel when they are more heavily focused on their wants, whether that’s a new car, a bigger house, a second house, and so on.

Prioritize Wants That Help Achieve Higher Needs

Many things that we avoid at present are actually our “wants” for the future, but we are not willing to put in the work at present. A simple example many of us struggle with is exercise. Many of us avoid this, though we know it would be good for us and we are ultimately craving the rewards: a higher level of health and fitness, more energy, and a more toned physique. Instead, we are tempted by the easy choices like fast food and lounging on the couch, which deliver immediate pleasure without any pain or challenges of the gym.

Now, think of those difficult conversations and acts of courage that many people avoid for years on end. For example, confronting your boss about a raise or promotion, standing up for ourselves or others, quitting a stable job to go after your dreams; these acts of courage help us achieve our wants that result in self-fulfillment and important personal growth. These are constructive, beneficial wants that feed our higher needs of fulfilment and self-esteem.

Obtaining Your Wants Is a Process

We all want quick results. In a technology-driven society, we are becoming more and more accustomed to expecting near-immediate results with minimal effort with everything we do or desire. I want Chinese food, I order it to my house in 40 minutes or less; I want new shoes, I can order them online and priority ship them straight to my doorstep. But some of the best things in life can’t be obtained so quickly. It’s important to be patient and remain grounded in your efforts. Make a list of your true priorities in life – whether these are career aspirations, or aspirations for a successful marriage and family, etc. – and remain calm if you aren’t achieving your goals as quickly as you have expected. Life is a journey and it is important to take it one step at a time.

Take Time to Cherish and Reflect on Achievements

In our reward-driven society, it is all too tempting to achieve a goal and quickly move on to the next one without really appreciating what you’ve done and what you’ve achieved. Once you get that promotion at work, you’re inevitably thinking of your next promotion; how great life would be after that next big pay raise, instead of focusing on the present accomplishment. Too often we become enthralled in the thought process of “the grass is greener on the other side,” which breeds anxiety, resentment, and disappointment. Be mindful to stay grounded and don’t forget to take time to appreciate your life as it is at present – this is a key factor in an overall sense of well-being.

If you are having trouble balancing priorities in your life, talking to a qualified therapist could provide a helpful perspective. Call Ottawa therapist today for a consultation!

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