Mitch at Wing’s Castle in Duchess County, New York. Pic by Jacqueline Castel.

The Power of Necessity

Forget about what makes you “look good” — what do you really want?

Mitch Horowitz
9 min readJan 15, 2022

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This essay is adapted from my forthcoming book Cosmic Habit Force (Jan 2022). If you find it useful, please consider preordering the book. — MH

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How badly do you want what you want? The greatest single factor that delivers you to your goal is a sense of urgency.

My friend and co-seeker Lucas Whelan offered this formula for self-change and achievement: “You’ve got to be in a place that’s more painful than growing is.” Maybe you have had the experience. A day sometimes arrives when addiction, self-sabotage, self-doubt, or mistreatment at the hands of others finally fills you with such a sense of despair or yearning that the impetus for change naturally arises. It could be one of the most painful but rewarding days of your life.

“You’ve got to be in a place that’s more painful than growing is.”

We may also face a circumstantial need that hits us with the force of necessity, such as experiencing the wish for financial independence. This struck me when I was fifteen years old. It occurred to me with the impact of absolute truth — what William James called a “conversion experience” — that my parents would be unable to support me into young adulthood. I began charting a life plan that would enable some degree of self-sufficiency. I was not after riches, but a meaningful, expansive, and financially sound existence.

Other times, of course, money itself is the primary object. Motivational speaker and businessman Jim Rohn wrote in a 1985 book,

Hey, what if you had to be rich? What if the life of someone you love depended on your being able to afford the very best medical care?

Let’s further suppose that you just learned of a book or a cassette tape that would show you how to make a fortune. Would you buy it? Of course you would!

…there are many good books and tapes on the subject of creating wealth. But if you don’t have to be rich, you probably won’t read them or take the time to listen to them. There is an old saying “Necessity is the mother of invention!” How true! With that in mind always work on your…

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Mitch Horowitz

"Treats esoteric ideas & movements with an even-handed intellectual studiousness"-Washington Post | PEN Award-winning historian | Censored in China