From a young age, we learn that want is a powerful force. Grabbing for toys, apple slices, candy… We get in touch with instant gratification long before we can ever understand how delaying our desires, or redirecting them, can often lead to much healthier, multifacted goals – priorities can be optimized and refocused!
But no matter how hard we try, no matter how we live our lives, it’s difficult to escape that primal feeling of want. as we get older, our desires become more diverse as well.. the smattering of chocolate bars throughout the week, the moccafrappuchinos that punctuate our day, the extra slice of pie after a satisfying meal are but taken for granted. They’re replaced by yearning for a bigger, thinner television, a faster car.. the list goes on. pushing the envelope. There’s balance in availability – how common it is, how many places it’s available, and the cost.. We often lust after things that are on the outside edge of our means.
Often this balances a further argument between perceived value vs personal connection – buying a Louis Vuitton bag because it’s a well recognized status symbol – the logo on the fabric carries a certain level of jealousy or respect from others that share in it’s value or desire. Sure, this won’t resonate with everyone, but that’s not the point. It creates a shared connection with those in that desired peer group who also hold it in high regard. This applies to fashion, cars, technology… Because often those same people – those with a real passion for various “things” tend to socialize with others who have that same desire. It’s a way for humans to externalize a shared connection with others.
Now don’t think that I’m standing on a soapbox, shaking my fist at the sky, ruing all the people who enjoy standing in a parking lot, the hoods of their Subaru’s open, drooling over each other’s cold air intakes – there’s value and genuine satisfaction in a shared hobby – but it should be approached with some sensibility and mindful engagement.
Recently I came across a pickup truck that check all my boxes, so to speak. It’s the truck that Marty lusted after in the original Back To The Future movie, and has quite a cult following in regards to dependability, even over 30 years later. Probably why it is listed at $8,500. This truck is on the other side of the country, and had me daydreaming about flying out and driving it home.
Let’s think about this. We need to ask ourselves a few key questions:
- Why do I want this?
- Do I *need* this in any fashion? Why?
- Once I have this, what will change versus now, when I don’t have this?
- What feeling does this “thing” inspire?
- Is there any way to get this same sort of feeling without spending time, money, and stress in the process of acquiring of this “thing”?
The 4th (and perhaps the fifth) are the real keys to this line of reasoning, because they encapsulate the primary takeaway in this situation – a situation where I *don’t* get the thing, but still feel the satisfaction I’d have if I did.
A couple years ago I started working on a simple worksheet entitled “Simple Things: A Roadmap to Success”, and it’s got a couple columns labelled “Things that Make Me Feel Good/Bad” – I mention that some of the things that make me feel good, like watching clouds and drinking a hot cup of ginger tea, that I often forget about when I’m feeling bad. Note that it can take months of awareness and self honesty to fill out more than a few lines – and that’s ok! Don’t write anything that doesn’t instantly spring to mind, it won’t be genuine and won’t carry the gravitas you need this list to embody.
I’ll write up a full post on the entire worksheet, but since I mention it in the accompanying video below, I wanted to share it with you now, so you can get a head start on reading it, should it resonate with you – I’d also love to get some feedback on it, it’s something I’d like to work on, to expand on.
So, to wrap up, it’s ok to want things, it’s also ok to get things.. but understand what drives that want, and be honest with yourself as to the motivation behind it.. Often you’ll find that a nice warm hug gives you the same good feelings as sliding behind the wheel of a 30 year old pickup truck.