How Need, Desire, and Compulsion Can Push You to Learn

3 min readMay 10, 2023


Editorial Illustration by EL Studio

The Lifelong Adventure

Let’s talk about learning — the lifelong adventure that we embark on from the moment we are born. But wait, what is learning exactly and why does it matter so much?

According to top-notch sources like Merriam-Webster, Oxford English Dictionary, and Cambridge Dictionary, learning is the process of gaining knowledge, skill, or understanding through study, experience, or instruction. It’s all about acquiring new insights and honing our abilities, and it’s something we do throughout our entire lives. But why is it so crucial? Is it a burning desire that drives us, a necessary need, or something else entirely? Let’s dig deeper and find out!

The Trio

Let’s dive into the pros and cons of each factor driving our needs, desire, and compulsion.



*Gain relevant learning that can be applied in practical situations

*Save time by avoiding irrelevant or less useful information

*Experience personal growth as you develop expertise in a specific area


*The limited scope may result in a narrow focus

*May not be as motivating as exploring new topics

*This could potentially limit your ability to think creatively, solve complex problems, and innovate.



*Engaged in the learning process

*Increased retention, you are more likely to remember what you learn and retain

*Opportunity to explore, without being limited by any kind of requirements and expectation

*Improved critical thinking, more likely to ask questions, seek answers and think deeply about the topic


Limited resources, may not be easily available, at such as time and money.

Lack of structure, without a set curriculum or instructor

Isolation, lack of social interaction if online, rather than in traditional learning environments

Limited feedback, without a mentor to provide feedback, difficult to identify areas of improvement



Improves skills and knowledge even if you are not interested in the subject matter.

Increases discipline and dedication by sticking to a regular study schedule.

Provides better opportunities to explore new things that you weren’t initially interested in.


Lack of interest and motivation can lead to disengagement.

Being forced to learn something can trigger negative emotions.

Difficulty retaining information may lead to output not meeting expectations.

The Argument

One strong argument is that learning is driven by our needs, Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory suggests that humans are motivated by a hierarchy of needs, starting with basic physiological needs such as food, water, and shelter, and progressing to higher-level needs such as self-actualization and personal growth.

To Force or Not to Force

No one wants to feel forced to learn something that drains their enthusiasm and passion.

Learning is essential for personal growth. However, in my opinion, it’s crucial to combine both the need and desire for learning to truly achieve the results we desire. Sometimes we may have a need to learn something, but without encouragement from our desire, we may struggle to achieve the desired results.

By marrying our need and desire for learning, we can create a powerful combination that leads to a sense of satisfaction in itself. When we feel a deep desire to learn something, it drives us to pursue that knowledge with enthusiasm and passion. When we pair this desire with a need to learn something, we can achieve the results we want while enjoying the process along the way.

So, let’s embrace both our needs and desires and watch as our personal growth flourishes. I believe that learning should inspire, empower, and bring joy to our lives.




HR professional by day, avid writer by night. Here to share insights, stories, and everything in between.