The Never-Ending List of Wants

I want a new toy boat!

I want some more friends!

I want more dessert!

I want to be done with homework!

I want to get into Harvard!

I want to get an A!

I want to get a girlfriend!

I want to …

I feel like I am constantly talking, thinking and working on what I want and am realizing that I have a never-ending list of wants.  Looking forward to the New Year, I see that over the years my goals have slowly morphed into a list of “I wants” rather than actual goals. I work all year to get things off my list (more friends, more money, more book sales) and the next year the list seems to get even longer and more demanding.

I am reading The Imposter: How a Juvenile Criminal Succeeded in Business and Life by Kip Kreiling.  Kip tells his story of going from a teenage criminal to a highly successful business man and family man.  I will be writing a series of posts based on lessons from each chapter as I read them.  The first chapter got me thinking about the importance of change and the second chapter I fell in love with one of the central messages:

The challenge is that we all want more than we can have: more things, more love, more time, more health, more friends.

Not only is this an issue in my own life, but an issue I am seeing for kids and teens as well.  It seems that kids today are always wanting more and they have a very hard time distinguishing want from need and transforming want into desire for positive change.  I want to bring up a few issues that the Chapter raised for our musing:

  • Want vs Need

I challenge you to look at your list and separate the wants from the needs. This will bring a new perspective to the list and how to prioritize it.

  • Want vs Goal

Second, I challenge you to separate your wants vs your goals.  Wanting a boat is different than having a goal to be able to afford and logistically manage a boat.  Change the item to more specific action steps: research a used boat, meet with accountant on savings plan, research boat care maintenance…

  • Is Your Want Because of Habit?

People are creatures of habit and do not like change, even young people.  Therefore, looking through my list of wants, er, goals for this year I realized some of them are to maintain a status quo.  But, I am unhappy with my status quo, so why would I want things that maintain that.  So I ask you, do your list of wants inspire change or limit it?

  • Is It Too Long?

Our large list of wants compete in our head for our time and focus.  Because the list is usually impossibly large, we focus our attentions on our desires, instead of the motivation and goals behind them.

  • Want Can Be Desire For Change

Kip Kreiling points out that there are methods we can use to transform our “want” to change into a “desire” for change.  Cortez did this at the beginning of his conquest of the Aztec’s by burning their boats on the shores of Vera Cruz.  He transformed his want to succeed with the conquet to a compelling desire.  The Greeks did the same thing. He talks about his own experience of this phenomenon when he experienced a severe drug overdose that nearly killed him.

In this time of gift wish lists and new years goals.  I challenge you to reexamine some of your items and talk about them with those around you.  The never-ending want list can feel suffocating and inhibit positive change if you do not have the right perspective.

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The Imposter: How a Juvenile Criminal Succeeded in Business and Life by Kip Kreiling

A great biographical story about someone who overcame seemingly insurmountable challenges to rise to the top.  A great read for parents and teens. I would highly recommend it as a buy for you or your teen. He brings up many of the issues we talk about above and his story is so relatable for teens.

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