Use the Need/Want Matrix to Find Out the Goals to Focus on

An interesting upgrade to Eisenhower (Urgent/Important) Matrix

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Set the goal using a fancy technique. Do the tasks. Achieve the objective, happiness, success and everything else.

I bet you get this advice frequently. We all do.

Yet despite this “brilliant” recommendation, we regularly fail with our goals. Either we are unable to achieve them, or we are unhappy despite accomplishing them.


The most common reason is the lack of motivation, which stems from the wrong choice of a goal.

This article will teach you how to: avoid such a trap, identify the goals worth pursuing, and upgrade your goals to make their realization almost inevitable.

The Eisenhower Matrix and its overlooked flaw

You probably know the Eisenhower Matrix (if not, the next few sentences briefly describe the idea.) This principle classifies tasks into four quadrants.

  • Urgent and Important
  • Not Urgent and Important
  • Urgent and Not Important
  • Not Urgent and Not Important

Urgent tasks require immediate action, put you into reactive mode and make you busy.

Important tasks contribute to your long-term plan and are usually not urgent unless you neglect them for a long time.

The Urgent/Important Matrix is a fabulous tool, which quickly point you to the best tasks for your success and well-being (the ones that fall into the Not Urgent and Important quadrant.) However, the matrix has a flaw. While the urgency is easy to spot, the importance is far more elusive.

I have to admit that outcome is a decent measure of importance. However, you cannot know the exact result of the future activities unless you are a fortuneteller; (and you aren’t, right?) Moreover, the importance of a goal is not about the obvious outcomes exclusively.

You measure success and well-being subjectively. So should you do with the importance of your goals.

How could you do so?

Using a tool designed specifically for that job – an upgrade to the Eisenhower Matrix – The Need/Want Matrix.

The Need/Want Matrix – an upgrade to the Eisenhower Matrix

To recognize the level of a particular goal’s importance specifically to you, simply ponder on your feelings about that goal.

Ask yourself if you need the benefits of the goal for your long-term well-being and success, or if it’s just a fad. Is it necessary or could you live without it? Does it fill the widest gap on your Pyramid of Needs or is it just a temporary urge?

Then, ask if you want to achieve your goal enough to pay the attached price (there is always one.) Do you want it strong enough to take the required actions or is it just an amusing dream?

After that, based on your answers, put your goal into the relevant part of the Need/Want Matrix. The matrix parts– Desire Quadrants illustrate the four combinations of the nature of a desire.

  • No Need and Want (the goals that have no real
    value for you in the long run, but you want to accomplish them even at the
    high cost; for example you want to watch all the episodes of the Game of
    Thrones because you love the series)
  • Need and Want (the goals, that have huge
    value for you in the long run, that you want to accomplish no matter what
    obstacles emerge in your way; for example you need and want to build a
    lifestyle business so you commit heartfully to that objective)
  • No Need and No Want (the goals that have
    no real value for you in the long run, but you want to accomplish them
    based on the temporary urge; for example you want to watch all the
    episodes of the Game of Thrones, but after just a few episodes, you no
    longer crave to follow the whole series. Instead, you watch them only because
    of the power of inertia, peer pressure, etc.)
  • Need and No Want (the goals that you
    desperately need to achieve, but don’t desire them strongly enough to take
    action; for example you need to improve your diet, but you don’t want to
    ditch the junk food you eat)

What should you do with goals that fall into the particular quadrants?

The optimal desire quadrant

When you really need the benefits of the goal for the long-term well-being, and have a very strong inner motivation supporting your efforts, it is the perfect situation.

Achieving goals from the Need and Want quadrant is easier than in case of other three parts of the matrix. Thus, you should focus on these objectives to maximize your achievements, well-being and success.

The worst desire quadrant

In contrast, the goals in the No Need and No Want quadrant are so unimportant that you definitely should not invest any resources to try changing the situation. If there are no benefits need to gain in the long term, and you do not want the goal for its own sake, abandon the idea without any hesitation.

The two most common quadrants

The extreme quadrants are easy to cope with, but the goals in the remaining two parts of the matrix require some brainwork. Of course, you should focus on the goals classified in the optimal quadrant, but do not ditch the objectives from the two non-discussed yet quadrants mindlessly. Instead, check whether you could move them into the optimal quadrant by a deliberate increase of either want or need part of the particular goal.

Creation of need

Usually, it is easier to create need than want, because when you truly want something, you naturally rationalize why you need it. It is a good tendency so long as your desire is driven by a strong inner motivation, as if you want something really badly, even for its own sake, you still can achieve difficult goals. In fact, almost everything is possible, when a strong desire stems from your inner self.

Believe me, it is one of the hardest mindset features to create on demand. Therefore, if it exists inside you already, do not dare to waste the opportunity. Instead, use your inner desire to the maximum and incorporate more need into the goal.

Create positive outcomes around what you want. Look for both the straightforward and the hidden benefits that you could add, and then integrate them with the particular goal. It’s an easy and simple, but rarely used technique, as many people keep forgetting about this possibility or never learned about it.

Creation of want

While creating more need around your inner want is relatively simple, the increase of the want when you already need something is more challenging.

It is not easy to define why we want something, not to mention increasing this feeling. However, two elements of want can be modified to quickly increase the strength of any desire: your motivation and fun & pleasure factor.

Therefore, it is not surprising that the most common technique to want something more is the carrot and stick approach. However, such external motivation works well rarely.

The best kind of motivation is the inner one. Rewards or punishments should be used only from time to time due to their undesired side effects. In addition, it is important to notice that for some people rewards work better, and the possibility of punishment is what motivates others.

Do you know which type of external motivation suits you?

You should, so discover the answer as soon as possible. Trying rewards is simple; just make sure it is big enough to care. For punishment, you may use a commitment contract. Go to, set the stake and do everything not to lose it.

Besides the common approach of the carrot and stick, there are other techniques to create more want. One of the most effective methods is to make your journey more enjoyable.

In order to do so, incorporate as much fun and pleasure as you can into your goal and into the journey towards it as well. For many people gamification works well; others need more personalized solutions. Thus, always use what works for you.

Is it that simple?

I will not sugarcoat the true. The above techniques work well, but they are only a small piece of what you can do to create more want or need. Using the described methods can give you massive value but will not allow you to extract the absolute maximum from the approach. For that, and much more other info, pick up the book mentioned below.

Want more?

This article supplements my book: “HABIT LAUNCH: 10-Step Formula to Tailor Routines You Love to Perform and Skyrocket Your Well-being”. For checking it out, click here. You might also look at my author site at

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