If you want to get into shape, it needs to be a priority.
There’s no getting around it. To make the necessary changes in your lifestyle to elicit a body transformation means shifting your different priorities in life to make health near to the top.
This doesn’t always mean it should be number one, but if you’re after real change, it definitely needs to be in your top three.
Earlier this year I was on an excellent course run by Manmeet Kaur Chowdhry called ‘Optimum Thinking’. I was so impressed by her work that I knew I needed to bring her onto the RNT Fitness Radio podcast (episode 34 – and a must listen to go in conjunction with this article), and share what I’m going to write about today.
During the two days, a significant amount of time was spent on understanding your Master Key. This means establishing and defining your hierarchy of individual life priorities, or HILPs, as she’s coined it.
By Optimum Thinking’s definition, your HILPs are:
The things we want to do and have in our lives. They drive us consciously and unconsciously, and operate in a hierarchy that we create our judgements and evaluations against. What we want to BE is in alignment with our TOP individual life priority (ILP) and determines our identity.
This makes complete sense, and when you consider all the different domains in your life, the ones you push the hardest and grow the most from within are those which are of highest priority to you.
If you’re after a successful body transformation, it’s critical your HILPs are in order. Trying to get maximum results in minimum time when it’s the sixth or seventh priority in your life won’t happen.
In that case, you won’t want to ‘desire, or love’ to eat well, you’ll think of it as something you ‘have to do’. When it’s between eating a pizza with your friends, or suggesting you all go out to a healthy restaurant, the former will be far more alluring. If it’s between watching TV to chill out or training at the gym, you’ll probably start missing more sessions.
Just like time spent establishing your why, being aware of your HILPs can be a great gauge on your readiness to change, and/or provide insight into why you’re not achieving the results you wish to (in any domain of your life)
Defining Your HILPs
To help you identify your hierarchy of individual life priorities, Manmeet has provided us with the questions she uses in her practice, which has been adapted from the Demartini Values Determination Process.
For every question, list the top three items per question using 1 to 3 words for each:
- What are the top 3 types of things you fill your space with? What things stand out most in your environment? Once you’ve defined what the things are, think about what they represent. For example, in my case my laptop features in mine twice, which represents two things: writing (i.e. building my business) and helping transform my client’s lives.
- What are the top 3 things you spend your time on most? (Other than sleeping)
- What are the top 3 ways you spend your energy?
- What are the top 3 things you spend your money on? Consider your monthly income and how you spend it.
- What are the top 3 areas/things where you’re most organised and ordered?
- Where are you most reliable, disciplined and focused?
- What do you inwardly think about most? What are the three things that most dominate your thoughts?
- What do you most value talking to other people about in social settings?
- What are the three most consistent long-term goals that you have persisted working towards over time?
- What topics of study inspire you the most? (read, listen to, watch, discuss, teach)
Rules/steps of the test:
- It’s important you are brutally honest and answer the questions with where you are now, not where you were or think you should be.
- Answers can be repeated within each question and also in other questions. As you go through the questions you’ll notice patterns emerging with many answers being very similar.
- When answering each question, think about what the answer represents in your area of life, rather than taking it at face value. E.g. spending money on a business course would represent ‘building business’.
- Once you’ve gone through it all, list the different answers given.
- See if you can create categories that certain answers may fall into, which may include building business, work, creating wealth, relationships, family, friends, health, self-mastery.
- Once you have your categories, tally up how many times you answered each one, and then order the answers.
- If certain answers tie, order them in accordance with what you value most.
Seasonality of HILPs
Now you’ve got an objective list of your highest life priorities, you can start to see how your day to day living is governed by your priorities.
We live in accordance to our HILPs. This is why it is the Master Key to understanding yourself and others.
Every choice or decision we make is driven by our HILPs.
What’s interesting is how seasonal our HILPs are. It’s dynamic and constantly evolving, so it’s important to re-take this every 1-3 months to keep yourself in check.
For example, health has always been a top five priority of mine. But where it falls in that top five changes all the time. For the most part when I’m in long muscle building phases or general maintenance, it hangs out around 4 or 5. This allows me to make continual progress but not at the expense of other areas of my life at the time.
However, during bodybuilding contest prep, in any hard dieting phase, or if I’m pushing for a growth spurt, health will rise up into my top 3. For short periods where the grind really kicks in, this will become number one. The real key to making great progress in your physique is to know how to juggle it within your priorities over time, and knowing when to step on the gas, and when to back off.
Goal Setting & HILPs
Goal setting is popular practice with anyone looking to improve a certain domain in their life. Health and fitness goals in particular are especially rampant.
I use them all the time. Both with my clients and myself, and it works.
But in order to have the greatest probability in achieving these goals, they need to be set in alignment with your highest life priorities.
If your goal is to get lean and have a six pack in 4 months time, health and fitness better be in your top three priorities in your life.
If it isn’t, you’ll likely fall off somewhere and make too many slips to generate the consistent forward momentum required.
This applies across the board with anything. Business, relationships, self-mastery, you name it. If you want to chase after a specific goal, it needs to be written in accordance with your HILPs.
And if it isn’t?
Well you have two options.
You either change your goals to match your HILPs.
You change your HILPs to match your goals.
The latter is what we’ll dive into next…
Changing Your HILPs
If after you’ve discovered your priorities, you’re a little surprised, or the area of your life you want to improve doesn’t even make it near the top, then there are ways around this.
Firstly though, this should serve as a clear picture to you as to why you’re not achieving the results in that domain that you wish for.
When I hear about people who ‘really want to get in shape’, but just ‘don’t have the time’ and/or ‘aren’t seeing the results’, it’s because it isn’t a priority for them. We all have the same hours in the day and days in the week. But as I spoke about earlier, we will base our decisions on our HILPs, and will always have time for what’s most important to us. So if getting into shape isn’t a priority, then you’ll find excuses rather than time.
And that’s completely fine if you’re aware of it, and happy with knowing you’re truly living in accordance with your current HILPs.
According to Manmeet: ‘Your HILPs run you at a sub-conscious level approximately 95% of the time. So to change your behaviours, actions and habits, you need to create enough new beneficial meanings as it takes to change your perception. When you have done enough, you will feel shifts in your mind and body.’
Here’s what you need to do:
- Highlight the task you don’t want to do, or the area in your life you want to start prioritising more.
- Link this area / task to how it will help you in fulfilling your life’s highest priority.
For example, let’s say your number one priority in life is your family, and the area in your life you want to improve, but doesn’t even appear on your list, is your health.
You need to ask yourself:
How will improving my health help in the area of my family.
As you do this, you need to keep listing benefits until you experience a physical shift that triggers you to want to make a change. This might take 30,50,100 depending on how low down health is in your HILPs.
Only you will be able to know when this happens, and what you’ll find is when it becomes something you’re inspired to do, as opposed to requiring outside motivation, the physical shift has occurred.
To break it down further, here’s how to deep dive into this linking exercise, and create real change in your life:
- Decide what area of your life you want to improve your results in
- Break down the area into specific actions and inactions required to create success in the chosen area
- Keep breaking the actions down until you are certain it’s something you know you’re capable of doing, and at least like to do (put this in column A).
- Now ask: how will this specific action benefit me in my highest priority? (this creates your first level benefit, which you’ll put in column B)
- Now ask: how will that first level benefit help you achieve your highest priority? (this creates your higher level benefit, which you’ll put in column C). Keep repeating this until you exhaust all of the higher level benefits you can find from the first level benefit
Let’s use the example above with this exercise…
Number one HILP – Family
Area to improve – Health
Action you enjoy doing – Going to the gym regularly
First Level Question – How will going to the gym regularly help me in my highest life priority of family?
First Level Answer – It will set a good example for my children
Higher Level Question – How will that help me be a better parent?
Higher Level Answer – I will feel as though as I am teaching them the value of taking care of yourself and exercising and that will make me feel like I am a good parent because it will help them live a healthier life
Higher Level Question – How will it help me to know my children will lead a healthier life?
Higher Level Answer – It will mean I know they’ll be able better look after themselves and be less at risk of illness
Higher Level Question – And how will that help me?
…and so on until you have exhausted finding higher level benefits.
- The next step is to repeat the above exercises with each of your specific ‘doable’ actions/inactions you listed in step 2
- Once you’ve completed this for your highest priority, move on to your second and third individual life priorities.
This is an ongoing exercise, and not something that’ll happen overnight. The key is to set yourself a target to do each day. You’ll know you’ve done enough when you noticed you have changed your behaviour for a sustained amount of time. That’s when it shifts from the conscious to the subconscious, and that’s when the results come.
HILPs In Different Relationships
This was a real eye opener for me when I heard Manmeet speak about this. She spoke about the importance of understanding the other person’s HILPs when creating meaningful, working relationships, whether that be in a friend, family member, business partner, work colleague or romantic partner.
What this will do is it’ll allow you to communicate with them via their HILPs.
For example, writing and building RNT are part of my highest priorities.
If someone came along and told me the business is a terrible idea, I’m wasting my time writing, and it’s of no use to anyone (said in an irrational way, not constructive), immediately I’ll be shut down inside, and have no real interest in speaking to them.
If someone came along and said I think you could do XYZ to improve your business, and XYZ to make your writing more impactful, I’m all ears.
Immediately this person is communicating to me through my own HILPs, and everyone wants their own HILPs to be appreciated and supported.
A great piece of advice Manmeet gave here in relationships which are rocky, or suffering from poor communication is to run HILPs tests, and understand each other’s HILPs so you can create meaningful connection.
Once you know each other’s top three HILPs, you can then create links between them to see how each other’s top HILPs can benefit one another.
HILPs and Flow
There are very few feelings better than entering flow state. I’ve known for a while that accessing my own deepest flow state comes during writing. When I ran my HILPs test, it was no surprise writing and by default, building the business (which is what it represents), came out number one.
The more time I can spend in the business writing and strategising, the more fulfilled and in flow state I feel in.
When I don’t meet my HILP enough, I suffer from burnout. I talked about this in ‘Quarterly Insights Part Two’, but didn’t understand it at the time. I thought burnout was coming from just burning the candle at both ends. In reality, the burnout was coming from doing far too many things low on my priority list, and not spending enough time on my top ones.
That’s why when I went away to Sicily for a few days, I made it a point that when I was working, it would only be in the form of writing, or helping clients achieve their goals. It wouldn’t be the tasks that are misaligned with my HILPs, and drain my energy and bandwidth.
By booking a spontaneous trip away in this circumstance, I was ‘creating chaos’ to correct my course, which is what you’ll do when your HILP is not being met.
Understanding this about myself has been a real game changer, and I can’t thank Manmeet enough for bringing this to light.
I mentioned it earlier, but I’d urge everyone reading this to listen to our podcast with Manmeet to further understand this topic, and learn more about her concepts relating to managing emotions, stress and overall challenges life can throw at you.
Learning and understand your HILPs can be an eye opener in understanding why you do things the way you do, and why you may not be achieving the results you want in certain areas of your life.
If you’ve been continuously falling off your physique goals, it may just be that it’s not important enough, and you need to create stronger links to your highest priorities in order to trigger real change.