Thoughts & Ideas

On Abundance and Deficiency: Needs and Wants

Last week, I learned a lot as I delved into the abundance and deficiency of a group of opposites:  Vision and Mission, Leaders and Managers, Education and Information, and Silence and Noise. I end this series (for now) with a look at the differences between needs and wants, and how they ultimately change our perspective on what is important and how we manage resources.

What do you need? Does this change what you want?

There is nothing more subjective than asking the question, “What do you need?” Answers could range from the material and tangible like a gallon of milk and money for bills, to the latest handheld mobile device or a new car. It is in the answers to the question that we are faced with the truth: our culture is confused between needs and wants.

Needs directly impact our daily lives by being items of sustenance, wants are are something that could improve our lives, but won’t make things worse if they were absent.

Knowing the Difference Saves Money

Needs and wants are important to distinguish in business, not just life. If we misidentify our business needs because of tech-envy, techno-lusts, or comparing what we have or don’t have to others, we are in danger of creating deficiencies in money and time.

One of my biggest regrets in business is that when I first started out I did not have a strong understanding of what I needed versus what I wanted. I think that a lot of this had to do with not having a strong vision and mission. By choosing to initially focus on four specialities (web design and development, graphic design, video production and photography), I purchased software and equipment for each specialty, thus spending more money (often in the form of credit) than I needed to.

Now that I have a clear understanding of my business vision and mission, it is easier to save money, curbing the desire to spend the money I do have. I have become selective in my purchases, slower to react to what I might need in order to give the sensation of “I WANT” time to dissipate.

Knowing the Difference Saves Time and Energy

Knowing the difference between needs and wants also directly affects time, specifically in the projects I choose to take as well as the aspects of each project that need to be prioritized and completed each day.

Again, history becomes the teacher as I look back over the years at the projects that I should not have accepted and how they directly affected my time and energy reserves. It is my hope that as I attempt to learn from my mistakes that I become selective at what I need to do, and even more careful in what I want to do.

Time, which directly impacts energy, is extremely sensitive to change. Therefore, it is imperative that I understand the difference between what I need to do to pay bills and plan for the future versus what I want to do in order to satisfy my creative urges and idealistic flights of fancy.


I tend to focus way too much on wants, which prevents me from doing the work that I need to do. In order to be more productive and effective, taking a few minutes to determine some criteria to distinguish between needs and wants will help me save money, time and energy before it’s too late.

How about you?