Wanting it bad enough

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Warning icon orange.svg This page contains too many unsourced statements and needs to be improved.

Wanting it bad enough could use some help. Please research the article's assertions. Whatever is credible should be sourced, and what is not should be removed.

Dolphins and Money
New Age
Icon new age.svg
Cosmic concepts
Spiritual selections

"Wanting it bad enough" is a "strategy" for achieving just about any goal promoted by a multiplicity of public figures, from self-help writers to mainstream celebrities, who all have one thing in common: they have already achieved their goals. These people like to talk up their own hard work by saying that:

  1. They got where they are simply or largely because they wanted it bad enough.
  2. You too can achieve your dream, so long as you want it bad enough as well.

Of course, none of these people's success can be in any way attributed to factors outside their own direct personal control such as patronage, privilege, opportunity or simple dumb luck.

There is also the flip side, of "blaming the victim." If you do not have the success you want, it is your fault because you didn't really want it badly enough. It has nothing to do with a bad economy, or the flat out odds against something happening.

Seductive appeal[edit]

The idea of "wanting it bad enough" as a route to success is very attractive to large numbers of people, since anyone is able to want something, and everyone likes to believe that their own dreams are uniquely powerful and thus more likely to come true. Unfortunately, while there is an abundance of testimonials from successful people endorsing the power of "wanting it bad enough," the sample tends to be somewhat self-selecting: only people who have already tasted success have the platform to tell their success story. While Britney Spears has undoubtedly had a level of success that must have been due in part to wanting success, history does not record how many other little girls from the American South might have wanted to become famous pop singers just as badly as, or even worse than, Spears, yet somehow ended up with only multiple divorces, drug problems and bouts of pant-mislaying insanity to show for it.


If we accept that "wanting it bad enough" is something of a myth, its piquant cruelty begins to become apparent. If a person fails to achieve what they want, they first blame themselves, believing that it is entirely their fault. They didn't want it bad enough! There are two possible responses to this crushing epiphany:

  1. Persist in the delusion, secure in the knowledge that since you definitely do want it really, really badly, you will succeed eventually.
  2. Somehow try to make yourself want what you already want even more badly, despite the fact that a person who somehow managed to achieve such mastery of their own desires would be better advised to focus on wanting things that were easy to get, or ideally that they already had.

See also[edit]