Needs vs. Wants: Feeding your Dream

It’s not an uncommon sight — a dreamer, slouched over his desk, trying desperately not to succumb to inertia — if only he had the willpower to focus, if only he had the persistence to continue in the wake of defeat, if only.

Distraction.  Fear.  Laziness.  The sum of these forces pervades our lives and prevents so many of us from accomplishing that which we truly desire.  This seems counter-intuitive.  If this dream is what our heart demands, then we should not feel lazy in pursuing it, right?


The reason why we so often find ourselves stuck in patterns of behavior that contribute to our eventual failure is because we make the mistake of merely wanting our dreams as opposed to needing them.

Society teaches us to contextualize our dreams as aspirations, as wants, things of passing fancy that, if left in poor condition, we will eventually abandon.  But desire is a spectrum.  At one end is want, and at the other is need.  Thus, there is something transformative in wanting enough that you generate a need.

So make your dream a necessity.  Want your dream so thoroughly that you feel you need it to survive, each step along the path a treasured breath saving you from drowning, each failure feeding your continued appetite.

We allow ourselves to sabotage our own success because we give ourselves conscious opportunities to do so.  Remember, want is conscious, need is unconscious.  If you have to think about what you’re going to do, chances are you’ll think up something to distract yourself with, too.  

When you’re hungry, you eat.  You don’t avoid eating by virtue of laziness.  You don’t get distracted from hunger.  You get distracted by hunger.  Aim to internalize your dreams in much the same way.  Know that you cannot survive without your dream.  Let the pangs of your unfulfilled dream frustrate you until you are forced to satisfy it.  Feed it, feed it, feed it.

19 responses to “Needs vs. Wants: Feeding your Dream

  1. I plan to nourish my desire this week by mak\ing a ton of progress on my rewrite! There. I said it. Now I better do it….

  2. “Brilliant post” he said, briefly.

  3. inspired!

  4. Although i agree with you yet there is something in me that resist it. whenever i make the best of my dreams a necessity, a need, it somehow, in some corner of my mind, becomes a burden. I stop enjoying it as much as i used to when it was merely a dream. My situation could be different or maybe this is just another misconception. But it happens to me. I dream a lot and i enjoy it until somebody asks me to dream for a need. I think not every desirable dream should become a necessity lest you should loose the taste of dreaming. The weird yet enchanting attractiveness. The sense of ownership without being responsible for it. I already said i agree. It’s just a thought that bothers me sometimes.

    • Thank you for reading, and for your very thoughtful comments! I understand what you’re saying, but I both agree and disagree somewhat. I believe that when you’re referring to a ‘dream’, you’re speaking of something akin to a hobby. I agree that sometimes we shouldn’t overextend ourselves for our hobbies, since we lose out on that aspect of fun and (like you said) enchantment that surrounds them. For example, I may like to cook for friends once in awhile, but if I were to make it a career as opposed to keeping it a hobby, then I may eventually grow to dislike the act of cooking.

      I think that’s where we disagree — on when something branches off from desire enough to be considered a mere hobby vs. an actual dream. I don’t define hobbies as dreams, myself. I only consider something a dream if it is so ingrained in my personality, so deep a passion, that I MUST accomplish it or else risk unhappiness.

      Again, thanks for your comment. It was great to read your thoughts!

      • ” I don’t define hobbies as dreams” . Yeah probably defining a hobby as dream sometimes can create confusion and frustration. Still a lot of things to work out.

  5. This is fabulous! Thank you – you’ve inspired me today 😀

  6. This is really inspiring. I like this line the most – We allow ourselves to sabotage our own success because we give ourselves conscious opportunities to do so.
    You’re right. In my opinion, people lack focus that’s why most us (including me) just keep chasing their dreams and not grabbing them. People tend to overuse what they currently have rather than saving up for what they really want. And also most of us are slackers, we want easy money…basically we want everything to be easy.
    Again, thank you for this inspiring write-up.

    • I feel like most ‘big dreamers’ are predisposed to laziness and lack of focus, and will generally seek the quickest, easiest route — I know for sure that I’m cursed with those qualities, haha. That’s why it’s been so crucial for me to change my mindset from ‘want’ to ‘need’, because otherwise, I honestly don’t know if I would get anything done! Thank you for reading and commenting, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  7. This was an excellent post. I really enjoyed reading it and found it very motivational. Sometimes it is hard to follow your dreams because we’ve been told often enough ‘Dreams don’t put food on the table’. While this is theoretically true, your post would make it invalid if you do make your dreams a need and make them happen as opposed to just meandering through life with the thoughts of simple wants. We ‘want’ a lot of things but like food, when you need something bad enough, you get it one way or the other.

    On the other side of that, people can be lazy and it’s easy to get caught in the quagmire of acceptance and being resigned to your ‘lot in life’ when you do something that you have to in order to get by but not what you need in order to be happy. “So make your dream a necessity. Want your dream so thoroughly that you feel you need it to survive, each step along the path a treasured breath saving you from drowning, each failure feeding your continued appetite.” Powerful words and I’m sure they’ll stick with me for some time. Thank you and keep up the awesome writing.

    • Thanks! The maxim ‘Dreams don’t put food on the table’ is actually what spurred me to write this particular post. I have had so many people tell me this, and crazily enough, most of those people are actually in their mid 20s! I suppose when one has entrenched themselves so deeply in a life of compromise, one will post-rationalize their decisions as the best decisions. My philosophy is, as you describe, based on needing something that makes you happy so that – like eating – you’ll get that happiness one way or another. To me it just seems that there’s so many people stuck in this lifestyle rat race of (career – procreation – stability, above all) that it takes that extra effort to continue to be true to ourselves and our dreams in the face of all this societal pressure.

  8. This is a great motivational piece. Like many other of your readers, I almost thought that that you had written this specifically for me.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Alex! I am definitely aiming my words at people like me – people with big dreams who are trying to ‘make it’ doing what they love. I’m glad it had an impact on you!

  9. Pingback: The only time I can be myself is in my dreams « All that I am, all that I ever was…

  10. You are gifted to speak on overcoming failure and how to deal with it. THe comments reflect your abilities. I must confess I will attempt to use your concepts in my poems because you have given me some great ideas. I can’t improve on what others have already said about your post. I will follow you to see what else you come up with.

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