By: Jonathan Pishner
As we get to the final psychological need, we have found the only one on the list that is distinctly human. You might notice that the previous four: Survival, Belonging, Fun, and sometimes Freedom, can be found in many creatures.
But the need for Power? That’s unique. That’s all human.
It’s important to understand that as a psychological need, Power is not necessarily the power over other people, or exerting control over others.
Power is really all about being effective in your life.
Power/Effectiveness takes two forms:
Your ability to affect your own life
Affecting your own life encompasses everything from simple to major changes. It can be losing a little weight, breaking a bad habit, making a million dollars, reducing your anxiety, or finding a loving relationship.
Your ability to affect the world around you
This is the impact you want to have on the world. Most teachers want to impact their students. Most firefighters want to save lives. But it can also be raising great kids, being an active member of your community, or giving to charities.
So how do we fail to meet this need?
If you’re trying to fix your marriage and failing, or looking for jobs and failing, you will begin having problems with your Power need. You are attempting to be effective in your life, but for some reason you’ve been unable to solve the problem.
In the same way, you might see the problems in your workplace and try to change them, only to find your work environment resistant to change.
How can I fix it?
If you thought Freedom was a complex need to balance correctly, Power is even more so.
But as always, we’ll make it as simple as possible.
If you forget every other word of this post, remember this and you’ll still have a good chance of making it work: “Power is being effective in the way that you want to be.”
How do YOU want to be effective?
Sitting and thinking about that very long will cause you to create a list a hundred items long. And you can’t make a hundred changes at once. Even one change is very complex.
So pick one. What’s that one area, where if you were more effective, your life would seem WAY better? Pick something that will truly make you happy and feel significant.
And once you’re committed to your once change, you have to engage one of your most important resources.
You see, we’re conditioned to think on dramatically shortened timelines. Think about the last movie you watched. There’s a good chance it involved amazingly difficult problem that was completely solved in two hours, and everyone lives happily ever after.
If only real life worked that way.
The reality is that almost anytime you decide you want to be more effective in an area, it will take a minimum of 6 months to start seeing results. The exceptions to this are rare.
And this is how you can accidentally damage your own Power need.
When you set an unrealistic timeframe to affect your life, you instantly damage your feeling of effectiveness. How many times have you decided to make a change and not given any time for it to happen?
Even the smallest examples of this harm the Power need. If you expect to be great at a musical instrument after two weeks of practice, you set yourself up to feel ineffective.
So how much worse is it when you give yourself no time to be effective in the areas that matter? You can’t turn a toxic relationship positive, or start your dream career when you only put in a month of work.
To avoid hurting your own Power need, you have to deploy a lot of patience and commitment when working to affect your life.
Once you’ve done that first change for 6 months or more, maybe you can add another. Then another.
But start with the first thing and conquer it before moving to the next.