What are your Needs

Physiological needs are the things we need to survive (food, water, air, etc.).
Psychological needs are the things we need to thrive (certainty, significance, connection, etc.).
The importance of each need shifts based on the situation we are in, but the needs themselves do not change.

Our needs usually take priority over our values.

Check How Needs, Values, Beliefs, and Attitudes Impact our Behaviour to see the interaction between Needs, Values, Beliefs, and Attitudes.


At first, we focus on our survival needs.

The list below is ordered by the approximate time of survival

Survival needs and the survival time

NeedSurvival TimeNote
Air3-5 minutes
Shelter10+ minutes* depends on the environment, freezing temperatures (under 1 hour, the lower the faster) are deadlier than heat (around 2-3 hours)
Water3 days
Sleep3-10 days* you don’t die directly from sleep deprivation, however, it causes hallucinations and inability to function which can cause death from secondary causes like injuries
Food3 weeks

Once our physical survival is secured, our focus shifts to our psychological needs.


There are six psychological needs:

  • Certainty
  • Variety
  • Significance
  • Connection
  • Growth
  • Contribution

Credits: Tony Robbins

Every person has a different priority for different needs.

Our needs usually take precedence over our Values and our Beliefs.
When our needs are unmet, we might abandon our values and/or beliefs to ensure our needs are met. The exception is when we value something higher than our own preservation (e.g. parents endangering themselves to protect their children).

Image sources: