The Difference Between Want And Need

Create your future from your future, not your past. --Werner Erhard

The most dreaded question anyone can ask me is "What are your long-term goals?" Because I don't know what my personal longterm goals are. I don't have a clue. I have a family and I want us to be together, to be happy and healthy. I'd also like to retire at some point. But who doesn't want these things?

When Scotiabank acquired ING Direct in 2012, my new boss asked me what I wanted to be doing in 10 years. I'm guessing that he wanted me to say, "I want to be right where you're sitting." The problem is that I didn't actually want his job.

If I were sitting down with a financial planner, and we were going to do a written plan, my goal would be to retire when I'm 55. Meaning I wouldn't have to work anymore if I didn't want to. That I'm free. That I can stay and survive in expensive Toronto and not have to relocate to small rural community. And that I'm able to send my kids to the university or college that they want to attend in order to pursue their passion.

I don't genuinely believe I'm going to stop working when I'm 55, but I certainly would like to be in the position where I could. But that's about all I know of the future, and none of it is too concrete. In fact, I love my work, the mental challenge, the complexity of leadership, the challenge of solving problems, the satisfaction of being on a team, so I'm not sure I'd ever want to leave these pleasures behind.

I love being in the banking business. I enjoy being on a team that achieves amazing things. I feel good being on a team where, if you lose, you're still a team and, if you win, it's because of the team. You see people surprise you, in terms of skills and abilities. You see people who start in the call centre as associates and become senior executives. Just watching and contributing to their growth and success is awesome.

The goal is always to show people that they can achieve great things, deliver great projects that they never thought possible. Breaking that thought pattern and being able to show people their creation, to let them see how their idea came to life, is powerful. It means something. It changes the way you look at your colleagues, your team. There are these moments, just like in the movies, when you catch the other person's eye and share a quiet moment, a slight nod that says it all.

I like that I can actually feel the business, that I can get on the phone, go on the website and say, I think this process can be a lot easier, and fix it. I can actually talk to customers. I don't want to spend my time at head office, managing office politics, looking at reports, being senior, being disconnected from the product, the people, our clients. I still do some of that, but I like the intimacy of being a part of a business.

I think the success of the business and my personal success are incredibly linked. My success in my family life is important to me too, and they're always pulling at each other, and more here means less there, and vice versa. But they are tightly knit.

I know that I don't need more than what I already have. It's always nice to have more than what you need because it means there are fewer things to want, but the effect wears off after a while. The second car feels good, but not as good as the first one. The second house may be bigger and more comfortable than the first one you owned, but it's still number two. But the experience of getting better at your job, of winning bigger battles, is as addictive as getting new things, but it delivers a bigger bang.

So just find a way to be happy in your work by knowing the difference between want and need. More on that in this video . . .