Make Your “Need to” a “Want to”

By Bob Rausch, Ph.D.

If you want more energy in the things that you do, this is how to get it. The next time you need to do something and are hesitating about doing it, change the “need to” to a “want to.”

I really need to go to that networking group tonight.
I need to get my resume up-to-date.
I need to start looking for a new job.

Now, change these “need to’s” to “want to’s.”

I want to go to that networking group.
I want to get update my resume.
I want to look for a new job.

The mind doesn’t make an intellectual distinction between “need to” and “want to.” But it does make an emotional distinction. And we tend to do things more from an emotional place than an intellectual place. For example, when you need to do something you feel required or obligated to do it; however, when you want to do something it comes from desire.

I was unaware of the dichotomy between “need to” and “want to” until I met Bob. He was referred to me by his physician because he began having overwhelming anxiety shortly after he retired from his job. My initial thought was he didn’t have enough to do which made him feel anxious about his personal worth. That was far from the truth. Bob actually had too much to do and had a terrible time trying to get it all accomplished. He would wake up in the morning feeling he needed to get it all done that day. “I need to cut the grass.” “I need to fix the door.” “I need to…” on and on and one”. He had dozens of things he needed to get done but never once did I hear him say “I want to” do these things.

About midway through our meeting I said, “Bob, each morning when you get your list, select 3 items to accomplish that day, but change one thing. Instead of saying, “I need to do this (whatever the task) today, say, “I want to do this (whatever the task) today.” Two weeks later Bob came back almost anxiety free.

Three Cardinal Rules to Accomplish More with Less Energy:

  1. If you don’t want to do something, then don’t do it. We often agree to things and people because we don’t want to say no. Be honest with others by saying “No thank you” more often.
  2. If you have to do something, don’t complain about it. Find something good in the task.
  3. If you need to do something, make it a “want to.” When you do, you change the emotion concerning the task.

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