Willing To vs. Wanting To

Mar 27 22:00 2004 Susan Dunn, MA, Personal and Professional Development Coach Print This Article

Have you ever heard someone say – ... for years – “I’ve always wanted to be a school ... or “I want to have my own business some day”? This is a very ... ... than the person wh

Have you ever heard someone say – sometimes for years – “I’ve always wanted to be a school teacher,Guest Posting” or “I want to have my own business some day”?

This is a very different statement than the person who says, “I intend to have this new business up and running within one year.”

If you haven’t heard that last sort of statement much, it’s because it usually doesn’t come out in casual conversation, where vague dreams are bandied about.
It tends to show up in actions, such as a business plan, a spreadsheet, contracting with a coach, making an appointment with an intellectual property attorney, or selling an asset to build capital to endure some lean months.

There’s a crucial difference between “willing to do something” and “wanting to do something.” Of course it reminds us of the term “willpower,” which means you are managing yourself toward an outcome. Your “will” is what you use when you are putting pressure on yourself to accomplish something and directing your behavior, with focus.

It’s also when you don’t want to do something, i.e., we talk about dieting taking will power. Willing to do something requires a thought-process and then a chain of action-events. In Emotional Intelligence, we call the thought process that precedes this determined action “Intentionality.”
Now let’s take a look at the difference between “willing to” and “wanting to.”


Willing to - Used to express determination, insistence, persistence, or willfulness (I have made up my mind to go and go I will); used to express inevitability. Shows Intentionality. Used to express a command, exhortation, or injunction, or commitment to act in a certain way to make something happen.

Wanting to - To desire something, to have a strong inclination toward it, to wish for something. Implies no action or intent.


You're determined to what it takes vs.
You may not take any action at all

You make it happen vs. You hope it will happen

You expect it to happen and will participate in making it happen vs. You wish it will but do nothing about it


Nels went after the promotion at work. He was determined to make it happen, and used his Intentionality. He made sure others knew of his contributions. He worked hard on his emotional intelligence. He did the necessary politicking, and he thought continually of what else he could do to make it happen. He consulted with his EQ coach for guidance. He made it his goal for an entire year to make this happen. He took extra training, and enrolled in a night college course that fleshed out his curriculum vitae. It is small wonder he was given the promotion, and a bonus.

Eduardo wanted the promotion at work and figured that his work and good record would be obvious to those who would be making the promotion. Aside from that, he didn't know what else he could do but wait and see. He had a good record, got along well enough, and had been there a long time. Even though he'd never been given a promotion, he hoped this would be the time, that time would be on his side, and he did nothing out of the ordinary to make it happen. He mentioned to his wife he’d like to get the promotion, and she gave him some ideas, but he ignored them. He mentioned it to a friend, who suggested he hire a coach. Eduardo ignored this good advice. He just kept hoping it would happen, as year after year went by. It became a case of “wishful thinking.”


"There is a big difference in wanting to and willing to." ~ Bear Bryant, Coach, University of Alabama, Roll Tide!


Willing something to happen means you are using the Emotional Intelligence competency of Intentionality. You mean what you say and you say what you mean, and you do what it takes to bring about the results.


Doing vs. Trying
Focus vs. Vagueness
Steering vs. Drifting
Swimming vs. Treading Water

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About Article Author

Susan Dunn, MA, Personal and Professional Development Coach
Susan Dunn, MA, Personal and Professional Development Coach

©Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach, http://www.susandunn.cc . I offer coaching, distance learning courses, and ebooks around emotional intelligence. Mailto:sdunn@susandunn.cc for free ezine. For daily EQ Tips, send blank email to EQ4U-subscribe@yahoogroups.com . I train and certify EQ coaches, http://www.eqcoach.net . Start tomorrow, no residence requirement. Email for more information.

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