What do you really need?

William Liao
2 min readMar 3, 2024


The energy requirements between needs and wants is remarkably asymmetric.

Needs have massive leverage over you. If you’re convinced you need something you will go to great lengths & burn through significant resources — sometimes to your detriment — to fulfill that need.

Wants on the other hand are much more lax by comparison. If you get them, you get them. If you don’t, you don’t. Maybe that’s regrettable at first, but you know you’ll live and in some cases may even be better off in the end. You will pursue a want but with less vigor.

Earlier today I went through the infamous, dated, and tiring theater that is car sales* to see what deals are available.


I ended up passing on the deals which felt somewhat satisfying because it reaffirmed that I was dealing with a want not a need. I will not be losing sleep over this.

Meanwhile, I can easily imagine an alternative universe where this search for a new mode of transportation seems essential and, as such, I invest significant time, energy, and resources to see it through.

Sometimes needs are non-negotiable, but in many cases they are.

And where supposed ‘needs’ are negotiable, one of the most liberating, time-freeing, mind-clearing, re-focusing things you can do is to fully realize that you’ll be just fine without it.



William Liao

Taiwanese American, daily blogger of ideas about impactful work in service of others, photographer (ephemera.photography)