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01/23/2015 09:16 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What Nobody Tells You About Finding Your Purpose

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Why are you here and what do you really want? Try this simple diagnostic from the author of Beyond Willpower and find out.

By Alexander Loyd, PhD, ND

Do you remember the story of Aladdin and his magic lamp? This was one of my favorite stories as a child; I don't know how many times I imagined, while walking around in the backyard, what I would choose with my three wishes, and then what might happen as a result.

Close your eyes and imagine that Aladdin's genie is standing right in front of you, right now. There's no one else around; it's just you and the genie. Here's what he tells you: "I'm going to give you one wish. You can wish for anything you want, with only two limitations: You can't wish for more wishes, and you can't receive a wish that will take away someone else's free will. But wish for basically anything else, and you will get it. If you wish for 10 million dollars -- done! An 'incurable' health issue healed -- you got it! A big achievement goal accomplished -- victory! You get the idea. No one will ever know how you got it; they will think it just happened naturally through the course of life's circumstances. Also, you can never have another wish fulfilled in your lifetime, and if you don't tell me your wish in 10 seconds, you lose it."

Okay, this is it; the moment of truth. Treat this as if it were really happening to you right now. No filtering; you've got 10 seconds. Close your eyes -- go.

What did you tell the genie your wish was? Write it down.

Guess what? I tricked you. This is the only way I've been able to figure out how to help you identify what you really want most in your life. You see, your answer above is actually the number one goal of your life right now. But if I'd asked it that way, chances are you would have said something different.

So why do I want to know the number one goal of your life? Because it's why you do almost everything that you do. It's why you have the thoughts that you have. It's what you really believe in the most, no matter what you might say. And it betrays your underlying programming. Everything you do, everything you've ever done and everything you will ever do is because of a goal you've set at some point in your life, even if you've long forgotten what it was. You don't get up in the morning unless, at some point, you have that as a goal, consciously or unconsciously. The same is true for brushing your teeth, getting dressed, hailing a cab, getting married, getting divorced, having children, using the restroom -- you get the idea. Identifying the number one goal in your life is the first step to making any real change.

I've been asking people this question for 25 years, both one at a time and thousands at a time. The last live group I did this with had over 1,600 people. Only six gave the right answer.

If the only rule was to give an honest answer, how could they have given a wrong answer? Well, I know they've given me the wrong answer because, after I ask them two more questions, they tell me that they had the wrong answer. Here are the next two:

2. If you got what you most wanted in question 1, what would that do for you and what would it change in your life?

3. If you got the things that were your answers to both questions 1 and 2, how would you feel?

Your answer to question 3 is actually the right answer to the original question, "What do you want right now more than anything else?" That's what you really want more than anything, and it is always an inward state; it is never an external material circumstance. This internal state is what we're going to call your ultimate success goal, because that's exactly what it is. But if this inward state is really your ultimate success goal, then why didn't you naturally answer that way to begin with?

Here's why: Almost everyone answers question 1 with an external circumstance because they believe that circumstance will purchase for them the inward state of how they answered question 3. Let me give you an example. A few months ago, I was doing a live event in Los Angeles. I was taking the audience through this exercise to help people find their ultimate goal. A lady volunteered to come up on stage and share her answers. She had had a rough few years, like so many have in the recent economy. Her answer to question 1 was "a million dollars." When she said it, the look in her eyes was the same as if she were talking about the love of her life, her favorite food or a decadent chocolate dessert. Her answer to question 2 was what you would probably expect: "I could pay off my bills, have a little breathing room, go on a much-needed vacation and have less pressure on my life." Her answer to question 3 was "peace." She thought that in order to have peace, she had to have money. In her situation, she thought money would literally purchase peace for her.

I explained how all this works, and then asked her: "Is it possible that what you 'really' want, more than anything, is peace, but you think that money is the only way to get that peace for you internally?" Her jaw dropped, she covered her face and she started weeping right there on the stage in front of many people -- gasping-for-air weeping.

So many of us pursue some end result -- whether it's a career, a possession, an achievement or a relationship -- because we think that this external circumstance will purchase the internal state we really want most in our lives. In fact, we probably believe that achieving the external circumstance is the only way we can have the inward states of love, joy and peace. But this is never true. In fact, it's one of the greatest lies on the planet.

This excerpt was taken from Beyond Willpower: The Secret Principle to Achieving Success in Life, Love, and Happiness by Alexander Loyd, PhD, ND.

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