What if you already had everything you need?

My grandparents in their first car

In this time of economic upheaval, most of us feeling fear, and the stock market ups-n-downs giving any investor heartburn, ask yourself this one question: What if I already had everything I need?

My maternal grandparents, Martin and Laura, were two of the most loving people I’ve ever known. They weren’t poor, but were damn close to it, and yet it always seemed that they had everything they needed: a home they owned; cars that ran; friends and family who loved them; and boxes of Zane Grey novels (my grandpa had every one ever published and loved ’em).

Growing up we often visited them in their small and modest home in Moorhead, MN, and as a kid I didn’t think anything of the fact that their furniture and cars were old, I had to sleep in the attic on a rollaway bed since there wasn’t room elsewhere, and in 1970 becoming aware that Grandpa drove a 23 year old 1947 Chevrolet that Mom used to take to visit her high school girlfriends with my sisters and I in the back seat.

My grandparents always seemed to be able to improvise and achieve what was needed in the moment. Whether it was Grandpa creating a line of knives from old sawmill steel blades and deer antlers (for the handles) for fun and profit, to Grandma cooking up meals from leftovers and stuff around the kitchen that amazed us with her creativity to feed us all with what was available, I’m certain that they would’ve liked to have been more cash flush, but they had a great life and sure seemed to have everything they needed to be fulfilled, successfully raise two kids, and be fabulous grandparents to a pack of us.

As someone who has acquired incredible amounts of stuff over my adult life, live in a home twice the size of what either my wife or I grew up in, drive luxury cars and been fortunate to have traveled the world, I realize how lucky I am to have achieved so much and yet still want new things like an HDTV I have my eye on, the just launched new Macbook Pro, a Nikon D300 camera body, another home in Arizona or Southern California, remodeling in our current home, and so on. With the current world economic situation, like just about everyone I know we’ve instead put every purchase and major expenditure on hold (as have my clients who have had capital budgets frozen and almost every client engagement I’m on or have proposed has been cut or completely eliminated…gulp).

Rather than lament about not feeling comfortable in burning cash right now on stuff that can wait (and on which I would’ve proceeded on previously without much thought), for nearly a year I’ve been starting every new project or thought process about what I want or need by asking, “Hmmm…what if I already had everything I need?”. I especially am doing this now when I’m going to require new clothes for some event, feel pent-up demand for some new gadget or device, when I prepare for key client projects or even when we’re creating a new product or service for our business.

Try asking that question before you do anything right now…I’m convinced that you’ll realize that you already have everything you need to do “X”, or at least to get started on it.


  1. PXLated on October 16, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Wants vs Needs – I went on the quest a few years ago and pretty much have it down to my needs and am fairly happy. Not to say I don’t treat myself to a Want once in awhile but Wants definitely don’t drive me anymore.

  2. Kat on October 16, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    It’s definitely the want’s that sink us. I think the luxuries we have today have made us, in many ways, less creative and definitely less happy.

  3. Cecilia Abadie on November 9, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    So much truth in your post here! It’s been a Buddhist principle forever (happiness is not in things outside but inside yourself).
    One of my favorite anonymous phrases is:
    It’s not happy the one that has all he wants, but the one who wants all that he has. (sorry, translating from spanish here …)

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.