“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” This quote is attributed to Henry Ford though there’s questions to if was truly he who shared it.
Regardless who said it, let’s talk about the difference between what people want and what people they often need. I’m not saying people needed cars, but what they desired was to travel more efficiently. At that time for many it may have seemed like a fast horse was the only option. Ford provided an alternative.
When it comes to thinking, we can get in our own way. We may see the easy out or the quick fix. Rather than considering what makes the most sense.
Have you ever wanted to just order takeout rather than cooking, but for your budget, what you really needed to do was cook the chicken in the fridge you already defrosted?
Or maybe you wanted to book a trip to the mountains for the weekend to escape all the stressors of the day to day, but what you really needed was to stay home and face them head on?
Or for you, you may have wanted to just relax after a long day of work with a few more episodes of Suits or Love Is Blind, but realize that doing a bit of pickup around the house before relaxing would actually be what helps alleviate some stress.
Or what you want after a full day is to just curl up on the couch with a blanket and cup of tea and a good book, but you know that what you need to do is keep the promise to yourself to go for a walk before reading.
Or for you, you might keep adding more to your to do list in order to be productive and show people how much of a helper you can be, rather than taking the evening or day of rest that your soul truly needs.
Or, maybe you work from home. You have enjoyed avoiding a commute, not having to pack a lunch each day, and getting to see your family or pets on your lunch break. But what you need is community and now that you don’t work in an office, you haven’t prioritized opportunities to connect with others and you’re feeling the effects.
Often, what we want, and what we need aren’t always aligned. What we want is often the short term reward. The easy decision. And what we need tends to be the long game. The thing that helps us where we want to go in the future, but may not feel as good in the present.
What do you want right now? What do you want over the next few days or weeks or month? And what do you actually need?
Asking yourself these questions regularly can help you make sure you’re aligned on what matters to you in the long term and you don’t get distracted by the trivial along the way.