Live Like You’re On Vacation…At Home!

If you were to throw vacation into a pot and boil it down to its essence – what would you find?

Young woman relaxing at the beach

Does she look like she's concerned with needs?

The essence of vacation is living a life of wants – not needs.  At home and work we have tasks and responsibilities that we need to get done.  Vacation removes these needs temporarily and we’re free to do anything we want.

Or so we think…

Truthfully, vacation is full of needs.  We still need to eat and find a place to sleep if we’re traveling. We need to book flights and plan our days’ activities. Heck, vacation can entail more needs than home life!  So what is going on here?

The difference is that we want to take care of those vacation needs!


Wants vs. Needs – Fight!

In the battle of wants and needs, needs seem to come out as the favorite – the more important one. Everyone says to take care of your needs first.  I don’t disagree with that per se, just with the mindset behind it.  In the most important area of life – daily living – wants are victorious.

As I shaved my face in the bathroom, I was having a deep thinking session.  I realized that I was putting off some very important tasks.  The main one being getting reorganized with my Getting Things Done system (affiliate link).  I considered laziness first, but I knew that was not the culprit.  It was something else – something subtle, but crippling.

The culprit has been found and arrested. I have learned a valuable lesson that could change your life.  I have just discovered how to live the vacation life at home. Like many life-changing things, it involves a small, yet very significant, shift in mindset.

Just minutes ago, I needed to get some things done.  It was a requirement. It was work.  Not anymore!

In my 4 step career guide, I wrote about how “working” can be play if you’re doing what you love.  In a similar way, now I want to get these things done.  I’d rather do these than watch TV or check my traffic stats.

Our needs – the not always fun things we must accomplish – are just more important wants.

The Resulting Mindset

If you “get” this, your mindset regarding wants and needs will change dramatically.  Rather than the two being distinctly separate concepts in your mind, everything becomes a want.  What do I mean by that?

  • Needs:  You need to eat today.  You need to pay your bills.  You need to email Jeff back. You need to apply for a job.  You need to call your girlfriend back.
  • Wants:  You want to go to the pool.  You want to read a book.  You want to watch the NBA Playoffs tonight.

With the mindset I’m suggesting (I’ll explain how to get it later), your needs are relabeled as wants. Not only does this make life simpler, but it frees you of stress associated with the obligation to do things.  Now, you’re a motivated person full of wants and desires.

  • Needs push us to do something.  Essentially, you have to fight yourself from doing something else that you’d rather do.
  • On the other side of the street, wants pull us toward them.  These are what we choose to do if given a choice.

Which one sounds like more fun?

The new mindset is…you need want to eat today.  You need want to pay the bills.  You need want to email Jeff back.  You need want to apply for a job.  You need want to call your girlfriend back.

A Single List Of Wants

With only wants, you can sort a single list according to importance.  Think about how much less work this is than sorting two lists for importance. After sorting two lists of wants/needs, you must try to determine which #1 on each list is more important.  That’s a lot of unnecessary work.

Here is a sample list that includes wants and needs turned into wants.

  1. Pay your bills
  2. Watch the NBA Playoffs (The girlfriend can wait until the game is over, right?  :-D)
  3. Call your girlfriend back
  4. Read a book
  5. Email Jeff

See how the wants and needs of an individual naturally intertwine throughout the day?  It makes sense to label them all as wants – because believe me – you WANT to get your needs taken care of. Look at what happens if you neglect some of these needs…

You have an angry girlfriend, receive annoying calls and letters that let you know you didn’t pay your bills, suffer from a malnourished body, have no money, and a miss out on a great business opportunity because you didn’t email Jeff back.

Hmm…yes, we want to do those things.

How To Transform Needs Into Wants

It is easy to say it is best to change your needs into wants.  But if I were you, I’d be asking how exactly we’re supposed to do that.

The key to needs becoming wants involves your focal point.  Stop focusing on the task itself – this causes mental blocks and procrastination.  The wrong way looks like this (I’m sure you’re familiar with it):

“Oh, I need to work out today.” — “I need to get those bills paid.” — “I need…”

This is pointless.  Ask yourself WHY you need WANT to do these things.  What’s in it for you?

After the following example, everything I’ve said will become crystal clear, you will be inspired, and you’ll stop procrastinating. You’ll be able to live like someone who is on vacation (except for the tropical paradise part, for that you probably need to achieve your dreams.  I’ll add a picture to tide you over).

Island in blue sea and sky

When you buy this island, please invite me to your parties.

The old mindset: “I need to work out today.”

Transforms into…

The new mindset: “I want to work out today because it is the only way I will ever lose weight and get a six pack, I’ll feel much better physically, I’ll feel better about myself, be healthier, and have a great excuse to rest and watch TV later.”


Did you see what just happened there?  A bland, boring, and bothersome need to work out just became a very desirable want with a huge list of benefits. This is the key.  You can’t force yourself to do things you don’t want to do for very long – so work with yourself.

Whenever you’re avoiding a necessary task, recite the benefits of completing it to motivate you.

I want to do laundry today.  I know I’m running out of clean shorts and it would feel great to know that I have a fully stocked selection again.  I also like the look of an empty laundry basket.  Why would I delay doing this wonderful task that benefits me so much?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I want to get some things done now.  What do you want to do today or tomorrow?

About the Author

I'm lazy, but you can call me Stephen. When you're as lazy as I am, you need superior strategies to live well. My strategies are so effective that I'm productive every single day. As the world tries to figure out how to always stay motivated, I create strategies that don't require it.

Hugo Martins

I look at things just a little bit different though the results stay the same.

Usually I try to find, as you said, reasons for me to want to do certain things but this method doesn’t always applies to me.

In such cases I apply the “make it cool” method. I think about something and think of ways doing that specific thing will make me even cooler or a better man.

e.g. doing the dishes. I hate it. I believe no one likes it. When I want to force myself to do them I just think “an 18 year old helping his mom doing the dishes seems pretty cool and responsible to me. plus I’m learning things for when I live alone” and ta ta. Suddently I “like” to do the dishes.

As always great post Stephen.



I think your method is the same as what I suggested, but looking at it from a different angle. In your example, being cooler or a better man is the benefit you get from doing the dishes. Just because it isn’t as tangible as having clean clothes doesn’t make it any less of a benefit! That is a fantastic, mature way to look at doing the dishes though, Hugo.

You have a bright future if you keep up this kind of positive thinking. By the way, I just did the dishes! The reason I did them was because when my mom gets home tonight, I know a sink of dirty dishes will stress her out and an empty sink will have the reverse effect. So in this case the benefit wasn’t even for me – I just want my mom to be happy. 🙂

Thanks for your real life example. I always find them interesting!

Hugo Martins

The way you explained it, yes it makes sense. It’s just a different way of looking at the “want”.

You’ll have a bright future if you keep up with this blog, really. I’m expecting a book from you in 1 year. And I am going to buy it whatever it costs.

BTW, did you move already?

Hugo Martins

Sorry, I wanted to do a reply just got the wrong button!


Hi Stephan,
Life these days is all about needs and wants. People “Want” to become entrepreneurs because they “need” money. Unfortunately the need to have enough money is never satisfied.
Procrastination is a problem. I too suffer from it. I have to develop a lot of mental strength before I do work that I need to.
It is important to convert the needs to wants however I think it takes a lot of effort to change the mentality and remove the inertia.
Great post once again.

Best regards,

Armand Polanski

At First I got confused at your post but now I understand.I read it at the right timing, I was supposed to be working out now but because I felt as thought it was a burden I kept on prolonging and prolonging my departure going to the gym.

After reading your post, I realized why I went to the gym, it’s because I wanted long life and good health.

A different stand point at things can really make a difference.

Chris Jones@soundspott

Hey Guise,
I really like how to transform needs in to wants. Thats really helpful in blogging. I always think about subjects to write new posts, but I postpone it into tomorrow. But If I enjoyed it – I realize I Can do it Today.
Thanks for the tips


I see what you mean. Yeah, that is a slightly different way of looking at it. The results are what count!

Hugo, thanks very much. I am thinking about starting to work on an e-book very soon. I have a topic idea and title in mind already.

I moved about one week ago.


Hey Ashvini,

That’s true – the key with that is to be satisfied with any amount of money! Well, there is definitely a lower limit, but once you’re making enough to live the lifestyle you want, that should be enough (assuming you’re prepared for retirement and such).

Yes, it does take a lot of effort and focus to change the mentality – but it is worth it if you can do it. I think this, combined with the last post about “shock treatment,” could work well as the former is about getting tough with yourself and this one is about a tactical mindset shift.

Funny you used the term “mental strength” – that is something I’ve been thinking about a lot!


Awesome Armand! There are so many benefits to working out. I ran for about 4 miles yesterday and it was great.


Absolutely Chris! I’m always happy to make a difference.

Riley Harrison

Hi Stephan,
This probably warps the traditional definition of vacation but Kathy and I vacation with purpose and intensity. Just got back from a 15 day stint in upper state New York, Vermont, N.Y.C and Washington D.C. that included making a little money, genealogy, connecting with friends and networking with business acquaintances, new restaurant experiences, sightseeing,some Broadway shows and visiting Lincoln Center in Washington. It was exhausting but revitalizing. Whatever contributes to the fullness of my life without shortchanging the future works for me.


That is certainly not the norm – especially making money on vacation! That really sounds like a fantastic time though. When I went to Ireland, I was very active because there was so much to see and explore in a new country. Have any interesting stories from your trip?

Archan Mehta


Thank You.

The daily practice of meditation has helped me. Now, I look forward to chores and errands.
Before, I would compain about these “trivialities and banalities.” But the devil lies in these details.

Meditation allows you to undergo a paradigm shift. Yes, just as you have pointed out: a shift in thinking, a change in your mindset. In the end, that is what counts–and you can get things done.

That allows you to be more optimistic even when you tackle mundane things in life. It is like taking a vacation even while your working. There are monks in Tibet who have achieved this state of consciousness. When you chop wood, chop wood. When you eat, eat. When you drink water, drink water. Every little experience in life counts. It is part of my journey. I have learned to like it.


Lori Gosselin

This is great stuff! Just changing a word can change how we feel about something! I’ve had that thought about things I don’t want to do – I tell myself to be grateful that I CAN do them. It’s related, but not as good as your idea!


That’s great. I’m not too knowledgeable about meditation, but I’m sure I do it to some degree in order to focus. When you have reached the point where you can look at chores and errands as enjoyable activities, you are doing something very right.

This blog is all about shifting our mindsets! If we’re not completely satisfied with our lives, then there is always a mental adjustment that can be made to alter our perception of the world and our actions within it.


Thank you very much. 🙂 I really like your idea. Being grateful for life and the different (sometimes challenging) aspects of it can have a huge impact on how you view everything. Great insight! It is so nice to learn from these comments.

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