Needs vs. Wants: Distinguishing the Difference Blog

We’ve heard often how important it is to distinguish between our wants and needs. Many people are unaware of their true needs and as a result they find themselves pursuing things that don’t bring them satisfaction.

Assuming that you have air to breathe, food to eat and a secure roof over your head, now it’s time to attend to your emotional and psychological needs. This concept goes back as far as Maslov’s Pyramid of Needs but we lose track of the importance of meeting our emotional needs and get distracted by our wants.

Needs are intrinsic and wants are extrinsic. Simply put, when comparing Needs to Wants it means the difference between ‘fulfilling’ yourself from the inside out versus ‘filling yourself up’ from the outside in. It’s about being rather than having.

Wants are driven by outside forces such as the media or wanting to keep up with others. We may think pursuing those wants will bring us happiness yet, when we acquire or achieve the wants they temporarily satisfy us and eventually leave us deflated and wanting for more. While pursuing the ‘outside in’ approach, we might also notice that we lack the focus and the motivation to attain our wants. I invite you to consider that wants are something that are nice to have, but that we can live without and be perfectly satisfied.

Needs are conditions, things, and feelings that you must have to be minimally satisfied in life. Often, needs are the things that must be met before you can really ‘get on’ with life. Examples of needs are: freedom, accomplishment, security, and acceptance. These are not to be bought, they are to be created.

When engaging in fulfilling your needs you experience a drive toward action. Needs come from within, and when our actions are anchored in them, we are inspired and motivated to take steps. Identifying your needs will provide you with a deep insight and clarity about yourself.
Knowing and fulfilling your needs is essential to finding meaning, satisfaction, and joy in your life.

Determining our true needs may not be an obvious process. The professionals at Forge Coaching and Consulting have worked with many individuals and groups to help them identify their needs. If you’d like to learn more, contact Manon Dulude PhD at