5 Tips to Get What You Really Want

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Are You Losing Your “Most” Because of Your “Now?”

Guest Post, Alexandra from Real Simple Finances

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            For those of us old enough to remember Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – you know, the one before Johnny Depp – Veruca Salt might pop into your head during this post*. She had an incredibly whiney voice and constantly asked for items, demanding “I want it now!” whenever her poor father tried to delay her gratification.

            We may not be as irritating as this character, but maybe of us become overwhelmed with our “now” wants, which causes us to occasionally lose sight of our “most” wants. Before diving into the ways we can stay on track to achieving our “most,” let’s hash out the difference between the two types of wants.

how to get what you really want

Get What You Really Want

            Now wants are those all-consuming things, whether they are items, trips, or experiences, that you absolutely must have immediately. Chocolate is definitely one of my now wants. I also want a PlayStation 4 now. My craving for chocolate may never go away, but my desire for a PS4 will definitely subside, either soon after I purchase one or after the next gaming system comes out.

            You might want your most wants right now, too. The difference lies in the length of the time you spend wanting the item. What you really want, deep down are your most wants. Most of all, I want to be healthy. When I fulfill my now desire for chocolate, I am sabotaging my health goals. Likewise, if I were to purchase the PS4 now I would set myself back in terms of finances, as well as interrupting the time I spend doing my own writing.

            “Okay,” you might be thinking. “If I want my most want now, how can I tell the difference between a most want and a now want?” In other words, how to figure out ‘what you really want’.

            Length of time, of course!

            My first rule for keeping yourself on track to your most important goal or want is to never do anything quickly. I used to play a game with myself when I shopped: I would admire a purse or something else that I didn’t need right away, and then I would leave. If the item was still there a few weeks or a month later when I returned (I didn’t shop often!) I would purchase it, but only if I still felt the same about it. More often than not fashion had changed by that time, and I no longer felt that I needed to have that item now.

What’s the Difference Between What You Really Want and What You Want Now?

            Your most important wants and goals will stay with you longer than these right-now desires. A wish for a home of your own might be thought-consuming, and will probably last with you through your apartment rental until you finally hold the keys to your new home in your hand. This want may even become a now want, particularly if you choose to live with your parents to save money.

            One of my most wants is for financial freedom from my student loans. If I bought a new gaming system, I would be spending $400 that could go toward paying off my debt. Yes, I could start a new side hustle (even if it doesn’t pay well at first!) to afford this extra expense, but I would much rather start a side business to help me pay off my debt faster. If I wait to purchase the gaming system until I am debt-free, I win multiple times over: I have achieved my most important want, I will be able to buy the system without taking on more debt, and I won’t have to work as hard to pay off my debt, so I will have more time (or any time!) to devote to playing my games.

            Sometimes now wants appear and you end up purchasing them in the heat of the moment, unable to resist either the good deal, or the peer pressure, or even your own desire for this item or experience. If this is the case, there are a few things you can do.

Tips to Get What You Really Want

1. Consider how far away from your most want this now want will take you. If you are not comfortable with how behind you will be on your most path, this is a good indication that you should not make this purchase.

  2. Ask yourself if this is a new type of want. When I wanted to be a Zumba instructor, I was convinced that this was a most want. I have taught dance classes for years, and figured that becoming a Zumba instructor would add a level of competitiveness to my resume and help me make some side money. Luckily the cost of the program made me pause, and I discovered a few months later that I no longer wanted to become an instructor.

3. Remove the triggers. Even though I have heard daily shopping can be healthy, I cannot go clothes shopping with my mother. Neither of us are frivolous with our money, and yet something happens when we hit the mall together. Everything fits better, we get more adventurous with our fashion choices, and we look fabulous in all the clothes we try on. It’s a very odd phenomenon, but it happens each time we shop for clothing together. Instead, I take my husband or brother now. Neither of them enjoys shopping, so I am more apt to run in for the one item of clothing I need, and I never stop to browse. 

4. Keeping your most wants prominent will help you stay on track. What is important to you? Write it down, and focus your attention there. If it is something that will add to your life, not change with the seasons as fashion does, and will continue to be important to you after a few months, you can be confident that you found one of your most wants. 

5. Remember, it is okay to have more than one thing that you want most – that may sound hypocritical, but it is possible to have most wants that do not conflict. While paying off my student loan debts is high on my list, becoming healthy is also on my list. These two do not conflict, and even complement each other! When I am healthy I spend less money at doctors’ offices; because I am saving money, I do not waste my funds on fad diets or quick-fix pills and shakes.

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            What things do you want most? Have you ever gotten off track because of something you wanted now?

*If you are not familiar with this movie, or wish to take a trip down memory lane, check out Veruca Salt’s gigantic list of “now” wants.

Alexandra writes at Real Simple Finances, where she shares easy finance tips for real people. Alexandra teaches first year composition at various colleges in her area, defends the semicolon as one of the best punctuation marks, and tries to convince her students that everyone should read Virginia Woolf for fun.

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