Need vs. Want in career planning

March 15th, 2007 by The Imagination Factory

Needs and wants are the foundations on which you set realistic and attainable goals. If the goals that you are setting are what you really want or need out of life, you are motivated, and therefore you are more likely to achieve them. However, if the goals you are setting are meeting someone else’s wants or needs, you will probably find it frustrating to try to attain them. It is extremely important that you take the time to explore and identify both your needs and your wants. Once you have identified these, you are now beginning to identify what it means to be successful by YOUR own personal standards!

When you are considering your needs and wants it is important not only to distinguish between the two, it is also imperative to examine how many times the “SHOULDS” in your life will get in your way. Every time you believe that you should do something, you are implying that you neither want nor need this, but somehow you feel required to do it. These “shoulds” will drain your energy and take your focus off of what is truly important. If you live your life being “guilted” by “shoulds,” you are limiting your opportunities as you make your career decisions. The goal is to eliminate as many “shoulds” as possible.

Your needs are the things that you truly need to survive. Your needs are anything which you perceive as necessary for your personal well-being. When your basic needs are met you feel secure. Your needs are usually your highest priority! Your needs are anything which you perceive to be necessary for your personal well-being. These items are all fundamental to the pursuit of happiness.

You wants are the items which you have s strong desire for, but may not be essential for your personal well-being. Your “WANTS” have more to do with enriching your life. Balance and common sense are necessary to make appropriate choices about your wants.

Pure logic or even common sense are not necessarily operative when considering your needs and wants. There are times when the desire for immediate gratification enters the picture causing wants to become a greater priority than needs. It is very important to clearly know what you need and what you can wait for, even though you want it. You must satisfy your basic needs and work calmly towards satisfying your wants.

1. Formally write down what you NEED to live at “survival” level.
2. Clarify what you WANT and when you want it.
3. Sort out the SHOULDS that you have become “tied to.”

Good Luck in Your Job Search!

Nancy J. Phillips, CPC

Courtesy of: Good as Gold Training, Inc. (

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