If you were to throw vacation into a pot and boil it down to its essence – what would you find?
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.
- Pay your bills
- Watch the NBA Playoffs (The girlfriend can wait until the game is over, right? :-D)
- Call your girlfriend back
- Read a book
- 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).
The old mindset: “I need to work out today.”
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?