The song taught us that––despite a desperate search for satisfaction––we would seldom get what we wanted.
This what they told us:
Settling for less is often all you can hope for. If you don’t get what you want––and chances are you won’t––you can (somehow) find satisfaction in getting what you need.
The lesson was packaged in a raucous rock & roll hymn, delivered by a counter-culture hero and his mates. This wasn’t the establishment telling you to stifle your dreams, this message was coming from people you trusted; who had no reason to tell you anything but the truth.
And you believed it.
You started out with amazing technicolor dreams but somewhere along the journey “reality” set in and you began to accept that Mick may have been right. Instead of fighting for your wants, you began to settle for finding satisfaction in getting what you need.
Work leaves you feeling unfulfilled
The best day of the work week is Friday.
The worst day is Monday.
You don’t hate what you do, but you’re bored.
It ain’t bad but . . .
. . . at least it satisfies your needs.
Does getting what you need, lead to satisfaction?
Is a job that only meets your needs, actually meeting your needs?
[Read that again – it’s not a typo].
Don’t you need to have what you want?
Or, maybe you need to re-define what it means to “get what you want.”
Nearly everything you do involves a choice. With the exception of breathing and eating, there are very few non-negotiable activities. You can even make choices about what you eat and where you breathe. So, on a micro level, you are positioned more frequently than you realize to “get what you want.”
Back to the song – It wasn’t a happy tune. It was angry. The story is depressing. It was fun to sing, but the lesson was a downer. Dissatisfaction is a drag. When you get what you need, instead of what you want, you write angry rock & roll songs – and a lot of other unhappy stuff.
All of that is true, but the song itself is a lie. If you don’t get what you want, you are not getting what you need, because you need to get what you want.
The good news is: You can have what you want far more often. You have the choice to break free from the No Satisfaction rule. You can be involved in work that meets what you really need, which is to have your wants met.
Take time to think about your latest success – at work, school, with your kids. What were you doing that made you feel great? Where were you? Think about the environment, the time of day, the surroundings. Capture the little details. Sometimes they make the greatest difference.
Writing it down can help you remember other details by slowing your brain. Talking it through with someone else is another way to comb out all the good stuff. Your objective is to identify a specific activity that you’ve already been doing that gives you a boost, makes you feel good. Find activities that went beyond merely satisfying a need.
Pay attention to activities that already make you feel strong and begin to approach your day with intentionality. Look for opportunities where similar activities can be repeated. If your self-evaluation shows that you are “better in the morning” be proactive about scheduling important activities away from the afternoon. If emailing someone “gets the job done” but leaves you feeling disconnected, pick up the phone and call them.
Far from being selfish or hedonistic, the practice of looking for ways that work can meet your wants is a responsible attitude to have. As you identify work situations where you operate at a higher wants-driven level, your contribution to the bigger picture improves. As you work at getting what you want, you give others a chance to do the same.