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Do You Let Little Wants Get in the Way of Big Wants?

Figuring out how to get myself to do more of what really mattered was confusing until I made the distinction between little wants and big wants.
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Figuring out how to get myself to do more of what really mattered was confusing until I made the distinction between little wants and big wants.

Little wants are really don't wants. For example, the lazy me doesn't like to crawl out from under the covers -- I want to stay in bed, I need my rest, I've been so busy lately. It's so easy to follow this kind of want, I'd much prefer another 30 minutes sleep than giving myself time to meditate, reading another chapter instead of writing this week's article, just doing the quick stuff on my list rather than tackling the outline for my next book. The problem is that endless procrastination, disappointment, and lack of self-respect are the products of our little wants.

The cost is high, and the little wants are not what I want anyway. Big wants are characterized by their connection to our big dreams and being the best we can be. The achievement of goals in this category is worth the discipline necessary to make sure they happen and the key ingredient in living a happier and more meaningful life. For example, when I finish writing and submitting an article, knowing it's the best I can do, the joy and confidence last for days.

Yes, we can have our little wants, but not at the cost of our big wants.

Success comes from demonstrating to yourself that
you make choices that lead to your big wants.

You want to buy a house, but can't afford it. You know that if you went without your daily $3+ cup of coffee, you could save at least $60 a month -- but you don't. So get specific about the big want. How much do you need for the down payment and what little wants can you give up to reach that goal?

You want to get fit, but don't have time. You know that if you woke up 30 minutes earlier, you could get the exercise you need -- but you don't. You plan to, but not just yet. So what would it take to get fit, what kind of workout works for you, where and when could you do it? And how great would you feel once you started? Make your choice -- little want or big want.

You want to travel more, but don't have the time or the money. OK, so you realize you'd have no trouble finding the time, if you had the money. What are your most expensive little wants? Eating out? Shopping? Not taking time to budget for big wants?

If we think about it, we know the answer. Here's some homework to get you started.

1. What are your big wants? Take one minute to write your answers to this question. If you have a Best Year Yet plan, they are among your top ten goals. My first three at the moment are being a kind and loving wife, mother, and grandmother; expanding and deepening my spiritual practice; and writing articles and starting on my next book.

2. What little wants are getting in the way? This one takes a bit more time and a willingness to be honest with yourself ~ but worth it. There are many for me, but I'd say my most costly little wants are my desire to say Yes, not limiting how many of my 'good ideas' I try to do, wanting to be free of a strict schedule.

3. What's the smartest step you can take to get started? Your first response is the best. Could be as simple as, Go to the gym or as complex as, Make a budget or Create a schedule that makes time for big wants. The last one is my response to this question.

What matters is the difference it would make to you and those in your life if you took the time to do this thinking and then followed your own advice. I hope this distinction makes the kind of difference for you that has for me. Just remember your choices between little and big wants come just one one at a time, one moment at a time. It's not that difficult once you get going ~ in fact, before long it gets to be fun.

And every day the world will drag you by the hand, yelling
This is important!
and This is important!
and This is important!
You need to worry about this! And this! And this!

And each day it's up to you to yank your hand back,
put it on your heart and say, No, this is what's important.

-- Iain Thomas

I'd really enjoy hearing moments when your big wants won or answer questions you have for me. Either scroll down to leave a comment, or write to me directly at

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