How to discover what you want and what you need in life

Severe holiday seasons ago, while I browsed eBay discussion boards for gift ideas for my wife, I ran across a message that stopped me dead in my tracks.   The message was from a mom searching for a gift for her child.  It read “can anyone tell me where I can get the popular gaming console that season?  My son needs it.”

I looked at my computer screen and shouted: “Your child needs a roof over his head, a warm home in the winter and a cool home in the live in, he needs clothing, food and loving parents – he does not NEED a video game console!”

That moment I realized t many people have lost the ability to determine the difference between a want and a need.

There are many people who consider their wants to be their needs in life.  (You may be one of these people and not even realize it.)

Do you know someone who is saying that they need the latest cellular phone or tablet? the fastest Internet? a new car? a new dress? a new television, a new set of golf clubs or a new outfit?

All those things can be actual needs, but often they are only wants that we think are needs.  When you make a want into a need, often as a result of either peer pressure or wanting to keep up with the jones, we begin down a slippery slope and become a slave to our desires.  The only people who win when we make a want into a need are businesses (both big and small) and credit card companies.

I have developed a simple way to determine if what you see with a price tag is really a need or just something you want – possibly something you want very badly.

Ask yourself the following 8 questions.  For each question you answer Yes to, give yourself 2 points.  For each question you answer with a “no” give yourself one point.  For each question that is not applicable, give yourself zero points.

  1. Do I have this item already?
  2. Do I have some other item that will do the same thing that a new item will do)?
  3. Is the item I already have in good, working/reliable condition?
  4. Is there some other item that can do the same thing this new item could do for me, at a lower price?
  5. By not having this item, am I still able to further my career?
  6. By not having this item, will I be jeopardizing my long-term physical health?
  7. Am I buying this item to impress others?
  8. Is this item something that I will need just for a short amount of time (A few months or less than a year)?

Now add up the number of points you earned during the quiz.  Next add up the number of questions you answered.  The closer your point total is to the number of questions you answered, the more likely your desired item is a need instead of a want.  The further away your total points are from the total number of questions you answered, the more likely it is just a want.

This by no means is a scientific way of determining your wants or needs, but I believe it s a good way to start determining if your desire is something you really need or just badly want for yourself.