Want What You Have

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I was reading a book once on personal finance and was struck by the simple wisdom of one of the authors’ keys to growing wealth. Rather than talking about some complex investing scheme, he mentioned the importance of wanting what we have. In the personal finance realm, this is a strategy that doesn’t directly increase income or decrease spending, but it doesn’t take long to begin grasping the impact that this one practice could have on us financially. It doesn’t take a whole lot more thought to translate the benefits to other areas of our lives as well.

This year I actually had something that I was very interested in for Christmas. I wanted a reading device. I could imagine myself in all parts of the globe with my whole library at my fingertips in one handheld device. I was quite thrilled to open up my new Kindle Fire on Christmas Eve. Now, I don’t have my whole library on this device yet, but it really is everything that I hoped it would be.

Now human nature says to check off Kindle Fire from the list and move on to the next thing that I want, and this is something that I found myself transitioning into fairly quickly (probably by Christmas Day). We are accustomed to wanting things that we do not have. Even going a step farther, we are accustomed to spending most of our time focusing on what we do not have. I really want to work at making the transition from wanting what I don’t have to wanting what I do have. I really believe it can be a personal and household game changer. I really want Isa to see that modeled throughout her childhood as well. I think that would be a huge gift to her.

As is the case with a lot of guys, I am really intrigued by technology and at any given time at least one tech item is on my want list. A practical step towards wanting what I have this year is a resolution that I made to not make a personal technology purchase this year. The thing is, I don’t need another purchase. That Kindle should keep me plenty busy and I want to actually want it. I have plenty of technology to meet my wants and my needs.

I also made a resolution to not make any fitness related purchases this year for the same reason. I’ve got enough equipment in my garage to give me great workouts for years (it’s really just an Olympic bar and weight plates). I purchased these on Craigslist last year and they were a great purchase. Again, I could always want more equipment, but I’ve really got enough to satisfy my needs and wants in this area, if I let it.

These are both really very surface level things that I am treating, but I’m really happy with them, because by eliminating the option of more, I already feel much more free to enjoy what I’ve got. It’s great!

Okay, so what’s on my want list?

  • A beautiful wife who is also my best friend and a wonderful “partner in crime”
  • A daughter who is excited when I get home from work
  • A job that provides for my family’s true needs
  • A job that challenges me and causes me to grow
  • My wife to be able to stay at home with Isa and take care of the home front
  • Supportive family
  • ………my dog (sometimes you need to choose to want something before the feeling comes)
  • A comfortable, adequate home that is an oasis from the outside world
  • A faith that gives me hope and joy
  • A Kindle Fire J
  • Enough

…I could keep going, but those are certainly enough wants to keep me busy wanting what I have for a lifetime.

There are LOTS of things that we don’t have and will never have. Fortunately most of them aren’t on my want list. But I need to proactively choose what’s on that want list in order to keep this true.

Make sure that you take the time to want what you have. And be intentional about spending some time in “what I do have going for me” world. I was blessed to grow up with content, satisfied parents. I want my kids to experience this blessing as well.

What do you want?


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5 Responses to “Want What You Have”
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  1. Great post Chris. We really are programmed to keep wanting, wanting, wanting. I LOVE shopping, but like you, am trying to really limit what I buy as I want to get off the consumer treadmill. I tell myself ‘I have all that I need’.

    My wants are:

    my husband – spending lots of time with him
    my friends – deepening my relationships with them
    satisfaction in my job
    a healthy lifestyle

  2. Andrew

    Chris, I appreciated your thoughtful reflection. I liked how you made a want list of things that you already have. I think this is a wonderful idea… and one that I rarely do in a formal or even informal way. Thinking of my own “list” made me smile as I realized all of the wonderful things I want that I am fortunate enough to have every day:
    -A loving and growing family
    -A job I enjoy
    -A wife who is able to stay home with Lily
    -A church that nurtures and supports me
    -My health
    -A wonderful house that feels like home
    -Four unique, exciting, and enjoyable seasons!


  3. Thanks for your comments. It’s so true that the want cycle is only broken with some intentional and concrete actions. Good, deep relationships truly are an amazing blessing! I agree 100% on the healthy lifestyle part as well. The great thing about intentionally living a healthy life is that it changes so much more than just how you feel.

  4. Thanks Drew! I never took much time to intentionally reflect on things like this until recently. More and more I am convinced of the virtues taking concrete actions that steer myself in the direction I want to go. As much as I wish it were different, I just don’t seem to naturally gravitate there.

    By the way, congrats on the growing family! We’re trying to play catch up with you guys!

  5. Joy

    Chris, I read your post to our family over the breakfast table. We all went around several times to list what we want that we already have. It was so good! Then I noticed that for the next several days we keep doing the same thing! I LOVE IT! What a great way to introduce gratefulness into our daily lives AND help us maintain the right perspective on what we already own. Thanks so much! I always appreciate your insights.