upon genuine personal desires are crucial for long term success and
happiness. Many factors influence the choice of goals including
personality, intelligence, family upbringing, experiences, and culture
etc. Disappointment is inevitable if a large gap exists between your
personal goals and your genuine desires.
Fortunately Dr. Steven Reiss, a professor of psychology and psychiatry
at Ohio State University spent five years developing and testing a new
theory of human motivation. After conducting studies involving more than
6,000 people, Dr.Reiss found that 16 basic desires guide nearly all
meaningful behavior. The results were published in the very readable
text Who Am I? The 16 Basic Desires That Motivate Our Action and Define
Our Personalities (Tarcher/Putnam, 2000).
Who Am I?contains some of the most profound and useful
information I’ve come across since I started reading psychology text
books in 1972! Not only is Who Am I? well worth reading but it contains
self-tests designed to identify the desires that influence your personal
With your desires identified, it’s much easier to chart your way through
life and to avoid false starts.
Each of the
desires range from low to high.
The 16 Basic
the desire to influence. Manifests itself in leadership, achievement and
work. A person’s choice of career is a clue to his or her desire for
power. A person who always declines promotions is different than a Prime
Minister, President, or CEO.
Independence – the desire for self-reliance. Manifests itself in
doing things one’s own way and resisting advice from others. Some people
are easily manipulated by others while others stubbornly resist any
influence at all. (Why else would people
refuse to wear seat belts?)
Curiosity – the desire for knowledge. Manifests itself in truth
seeking and problem-solving. Bookworms and inventors relentlessly seek
out new knowledge while others couldn’t be bothered.
Acceptance - the desire for inclusion. Manifests itself in
avoiding rejection and criticism. Risk takers handle criticism better
than those who usually set easy goals for themselves. As Virgil, the
Roman epic poet (70 BC - 19 BC) said, “Fortune favors the brave.”
Order – the desire for organization. Manifests itself in making
rules, planning and low tolerance for messiness. Slobs tolerate
messiness while clean freaks can’t. They make poor roommates e.g. The
Saving – the desire to collect things. Manifests itself in
frugality. (The Squirrel Gene.) Some people pay off credit cards monthly
while others only pay the interest.
the desire to be loyal to one’s parents and heritage. Manifests itself
in high character, morality and principled behavior. Upon finding a
wallet, one person may pocket the money while another will deliver it
directly to the owner and not accept a reward beyond thanks.
Idealism – the desire for social justice. Manifests itself in
devotion to causes, volunteer work, and giving to charities e.g.
Social Contact – the desire for companionship. Manifests itself
in socializing and the need for friendships. Some people cannot bear
loneliness while others are happy hermits.
Family – the desire to raise one’s own children. Manifests itself
in making child-rearing and day-to-day time with one’s family a
Status – the desire for social standing. Manifests itself in a
concern with reputation. Some people NEED a Ph.D., Mercedes and a Rolex
Vengeance – the desire to get even. Manifests itself in
competitiveness and aggression. Some people play for fun; others need to
win. Some turn the other cheek while others “go postal.”
Romance – the desire for sex and beauty. Manifests itself in
courting and the pursuit of love. Some need sex often while others could
care less. Large differences strain intimate relationships.
Eating – the desire to consume food. Manifests itself in eating,
dining, and cooking. Some people eat only when they are hungry while
others spend much of their spare time either eating or daydreaming about
Physical Exercise – the desire for exercise. Manifests itself in
physical activity and participatory sports. Athletes vs. couch potatoes.
Tranquility – the desire for emotional calm. Manifests itself in
avoidance of stressful situations. The timid characters Woody Allen
portrays are not the same as pilots able to land fighter jets at night
on aircraft carriers.
Printable Goal List - Mac
Printable Goal List.pdf
This woman knows herself well enough to trust her judgement and thus resist the influence of others. Log Driver's Waltz by John Weldon.