You Can't Always Get What You Want
Mick Jagger famously sang "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need." I'm pretty sure Mick wasn't talking about business or figuring out your goals, but these lyrics accurately describe wants vs. needs. I want a new car. I want a bigger house. I really want more money. What I need however is to get this big project completed. I need to go to the gym and frankly, I need to stop having Baby Shark stuck in my head (help, for all that, is good please help!)
Wants vs. needs is an important concept to understand, especially when trying to achieve a healthy balance of work, life, relationships and whatever else is being thrown your way. A want is something you are striving for. For many, wants are lofty ideas that will happen in the mysterious some day. I'd consider a want very different than a goal. A goal is something you are working towards. A desire is something you think you should expect to get provided you put in the work. On the reverse side, a need is something you need to function. If you break it down to a fundamental level, a need is something you fundamentally cannot live without, for example, food, water, shelter or air. So you need clothing (provided you aren't a nudist, in which case you do you), you want to buy those Marc Jacobs jeans, but your budget is only $50, so you need to go to the Gap to get them instead.
So, how does this apply to setting goals and long-term ambitions? Let's go back to Mick here for a second. You can't always get what you want. This is true. You can wish for as many of your wants as possible, but sometimes it's just not in the cards. I want a house in Downtown Toronto however this might be a bit unattainable for me, houses here go for over $1 million easily, but I need shelter, so I'm happy with my smaller two bedroom condo. You can, however, get what you need. Figuring out your wants, needs and goals is an essential practice for everyone. A goal should be something attainable, within reach with some hard work. A need is something that you can get shortly if not immediately. A want is a nice to have, and they can turn into goals however not necessarily. I always think of my desires as pie-in-the-sky dreams that if they happen that would be great if they don't that is also great.
Now that we have that covered how do you set those goals, immediate needs and wants? I tend to t-shirt size everything in my life to figure that part out.
Extra Small - Fantasy goals and dreams. If would be awesome, but also the realization that if it doesn't happen, I won't be disappointed. These are usually the significant wants (e.g. I'd like to be a billionaire who only does 'good' work and lives on a yacht in the Maldives. That's a thing right... right...)
Small - Something that is nice to have but if it doesn't work out then it
doesn't work out. These are the wants that can turn into goals with some hard work.
Medium - Something that is achievable, but not in the immediate future. These are what you will set as your goals.
Large - Something you need very shortly. Think a couple of weeks or a month. These are your needs.
Extra Large - Things that you need right away. (eg. if your lease expires and you need to find a new home).
Implying this method I usually sit down with a large piece of paper and map everything out. If one size is weighted higher then the other I take a hard look and see if something can be moved up or back. This allows you to set achievable milestones and hopefully be successful in achieving.
This has worked for me in the past, but I get it, this won't work for everyone. Maybe some of it will help perhaps all of it will, maybe none of it will but by mapping out your different wants, needs and goals, you can get both what you want and what you need to succeed.