The One Exercise to Solve Life’s Biggest Questions

by Alexander Heyne · 25 comments

Lost

“I Have No Clue Which Path to Take”

Every day people email me saying, “I have no clue what path to take, which decision to make, which way to go, or what I should do next…. HELP!?”

The truth is that there is one REALLY easy way to figure it out.

Many of you struggle with something financial or job-related in nature, and then there’s meaning/purpose/passion, and then there’s relationships. So how in the hell do you know which path to take, and what to focus on?

Here’s the formula.

maslow's hierarchy

So this is Maslow’s hierarchy, right?

Maslow was a dude ultimately concerned with “potential” and people “reaching their potential” in life.

“What a man can be, he must be” is a famous phrase he mentions in one of his books. And I know many of you are concerned with that very thing: you feel like you have a HUGE, powerful, exciting adventure or mission out there for you… you just can’t figure out how to make it happen. How to make it a reality.

… So how does this help you know which path to take?

Easy.

Maslow’s hierarchy goes like this: Anytime a human being fulfills the requirement for each stage in the pyramid, he/she naturally craves the next level.

So, generally speaking, starving people in the third world aren’t too concerned about meaning, creativity, and being famous. They just need to eat and survive.

But what happens once they have enough food? Now they go for a career. For advancement. For “security” and financial freedom. They take care of their family.

On and on it goes until that person is living comfortably in the third world wondering about the “ultimate purpose” of his/her life, and climbing the ladder of success and achievement – because that’s simply the next level.

Here’s How to Answer Your Biggest Questions

Here’s how you use this:

Here is Maslow’s hierarchy simplified a bit, to some of the biggest facets of life:

Level 1 – HEALTH

Level 2 – WORK

Level 3 – RELATIONSHIPS

Level 4 – ACHIEVEMENT/ATTAINMENT OF GOALS

Level 5 – MEANING/PURPOSE

So, if you have a bunch of issues like relationships, meaning, health,  only focus on the levels in the order of the pyramid.

If you have a shitty job, wonder about purpose in life, and then also have health issues holding you back… fix the health stuff first (it’s level 1).

Then you can move onto work without having to worry about it.

If you have a horrible job (but your health is fine), and you’re wondering about relationships, big goals, meaning and purpose… don’t focus on any level other than the one you’re on.

Just spend the next year getting a better job, or investing in programs that will help you get a higher salary, figure out what career you love, etc.

Once you are in a job that is secure enough (or that you like), then go onto the next level – finding a fulfilling relationship.

And after that, and only then, focus on meaning and purpose.

Here’s the Big Problem

You can, but should not, move to a higher level without making sure the lower levels are taken care of.

You get into really shitty, tough life circumstances when more than one level has gone haywire. Let me give an example.

A few years back I had a number of health problems that miraculously came out of the blue. Unfortunately, they came in my early 20’s – while I was looking for my first job.

So I had health issues. Job/money issues. Purpose/meaning issues. And I was getting paralyzed because I wanted to fix them all.. and I was working on them all at once, when in reality, I should’ve followed this formula. I should have ignored meaning and purpose for a year or two while I got my health, and then my finances, figured out.

Each level will hold you back if you do not address it. If you are seriously ill, you can’t do anything. Health has to be the foundation. Trying to change jobs or start a business while you have pressing health issues is almost impossible.

Another common situation: Trying to find “purpose and meaning” when you can’t even pay your bills.

Don’t do it. Pay your bills first, otherwise you will put immense pressure on yourself.

I personally know people that have been in the “thinking about purpose and meaning without being able to pay rent” phase… and 40 years later are still there. They were actually stuck at level 1, but they were thinking about level 5 – are you following?

The problem is that they never addressed the fundamental, base, critical levels of the pyramid. It’s almost impossible to address meaning when you can’t even pay your bills or you’re seriously overweight from neglecting your health.

The Easy Fix

I’m amazed at how simple this is, and shocked that more people don’t work this way.

If you have life problems – sort them out into levels based on the hierarchy.

#1 Health ==>

#2 Financial ==>

#3 Relationships ==>

#4 Self-esteem/Goals ==>

#5 Meaning/purpose/spirituality ==>

… And ONLY address them in that order. And fully resolve them.

So for many of you wondering about your passion and what your purpose is in life, start with health.

Is it good? Okay, then move onto financial. Is it messed up? Okay, stay at this level for a year. Just focus on finding a job you like, or a job that pays your bills, or getting in a secure enough position you do not need to worry about it.

This surprisingly simple exercise has saved me dozens of times. Try it and let me know how it goes.

– Alex

P.S. I’m opening up very limited enrollment for some affordable coaching in the next week or two. If you want to ensure you get in and you want info, email me with the subject line: MILK THE PIGEON COACHING.

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net

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