The Psychology of Priority

DR JOHN DEMARTINI   -   Updated 4 weeks ago

Demartini explains the psychology of priority to help you master your life and rise to the top of your game. It all begins with identifying your life's true highest value, your highest priority and then prioritizing your daily actions and perceptions.

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DR JOHN DEMARTINI - Updated 4 weeks ago

Every human consciously or unconsciously lives moment by moment by a unique set of priorities or values - things that are most to least important in their life.

This set of values, or hierarchy of values, is fingerprint specific. No two individuals are likely to have the same set of priorities.

This set of values dictates how each individual perceives, decides and acts. In other words, the way you perceive, decide and act is based on your unique and very specific hierarchy of values.

As you go up the list of values, you become more intrinsically driven, which means that you have a spontaneous inspiration to fulfill them.

As you go down the list of values, things that you perceive to be unimportant, you are most likely to need outside motivation to get you to take action.

Think of a young boy who loves video games - nobody has to motivate him to play video games, but his parents may have to extrinsically motivate him to do his homework, finis

Every human consciously or unconsciously lives moment by moment by a unique set of priorities or values - things that are most to least important in their life.

This set of values, or hierarchy of values, is fingerprint specific. No two individuals are likely to have the same set of priorities.

This set of values dictates how each individual perceives, decides and acts. In other words, the way you perceive, decide and act is based on your unique and very specific hierarchy of values.

As you go up the list of values, you become more intrinsically driven, which means that you have a spontaneous inspiration to fulfill them.

As you go down the list of values, things that you perceive to be unimportant, you are most likely to need outside motivation to get you to take action.

Think of a young boy who loves video games - nobody has to motivate him to play video games, but his parents may have to extrinsically motivate him to do his homework, finish his chores or clean his room.

So, if something is low on his list of values, like cleaning his room, it might require the promise of a reward or fear of punishment to get him to do it. But not when it comes to him playing his video games – in which case, he will be spontaneously inspired from within to do it.                                            

It's the same in the workplace. Some individuals might need extrinsic motivation like the reward of a paycheck to get them to go to work every day. There may be many other things they’d prefer to be doing with their time and therefore need the promise of a reward (paycheck) or the fear of punishment (losing their job) to get them to show up to work each day.

As a result, they might not be highly engaged or inspired because they require that extrinsic motivation to get the job done.

Extrinsic motivation is a symptom of somebody doing something that's not really engaging or not highest on their values.

I have often said that motivation is a symptom and not a solution for human beings.

For example, I don't need motivation to do what I love doing, my highest values, which are teaching, researching, and writing. Those things are spontaneous and something I do and love every day.

However, I would likely need motivation to drive, because I haven't driven in 32 years; or cook, which I haven't done since I was 24.

When you perform lower priorities or lower value actions, you devalue yourself, drain your energy, distract yourself, tend to find them unfulfilling and frustrating, and are likely procrastinate and hesitate when doing them.

If you fill your day with the highest priority actions, you automatically increase the probability of achievement.

You'll also be more likely to walk your talk because you're living congruently with what you value most.

When you live congruently with your highest values, your perceptions tend to be more acute, you're able to grab more information, take action and expand your space and time horizons so you gain a bigger vision of yourself.

Just like the boy who loves his video games, the second he conquers a video game, he tends to want to move up a level or switch to a more challenging one. In your own life, this could be evidenced in your feeling inspired to innovate, create and wake up your genius because you're pursuing challenges that inspire you.

It's been shown that challenges that inspire you are most likely to result in innovation and creativity.

You increase the blood, glucose and oxygen supply to the executive center in your prefrontal cortex or forebrain when you're performing high priority tasks that are aligned with your highest values. 

Your executive center is involved in inspired vision, which is why you tend to see your future, plan strategically, mitigate risk, and come up with strategies on how to achieve.

You tend also to have spontaneous action and a desire to execute the plans you see.

You’ll also tend to have self-governance, because the prefrontal cortex has GABA, glutamate and N-Acetyl aspartate - neurotransmitters that calm down the amygdala.

The amygdala is the impulse and instinct center, which are the source of your distractions.

So, the second you live by your highest values, you maximize your performance, wake up your inner leader, walk with integrity, feel that you're doing what you love, and can't wait to get up in the morning and do it.

In other words, when living by priority, you wake up your executive center and maximize the path of mastery as you empower your life.

In many instances, you may feel driven to perform low priority tasks because you perceive the individuals around you as being more successful, wealthy, intelligent, stable in their relationships, socially savvy, better connected, more physically fit or more attractive, or spiritually aware.

Anytime you subordinate and minimize yourself to somebody else and are too humble to admit what you see in them is inside you, you're likely to minimize you, exaggerate them, and inject their values into your own life.

As such, you cloud the clarity of what you feel is your calling and purpose in life - the real highest value in your life.

  • Your purpose is an expression of your highest value.
  • Your identity is an expression of your highest value.
  • Your epistemological learning is maximized in your highest value.

Anytime you subordinate to individuals around you, envy or imitate them, and try to emulate them like a chameleon, you disempower yourself. This is because you're not being your authentic self and are instead living by lower priorities, because other individuals’ values are different from yours.

Nobody's getting up in the morning and dedicating their life to your hierarchy of values.

If you don't dedicate your life to identifying your highest values and living congruently with them, you're almost sure to be distracted by everybody else's projections.

You may have seen this in action in your own life. You may recall a time when you've been infatuated with somebody and were afraid to lose them. As a result, you may have started to do things that weren't normal for you in order to fit in with them and keep them in your life.

What tends to happen when you surround yourself with individuals that you put on pedestals is that you minimize yourself as a result. You inject their values that are not necessarily your highest values. As such, you likely need continuous motivation to get things done because you don't have the momentum building acceleration of a spontaneous action.

Living in your lower values activates your amygdala instead of your executive center.

The amygdala is where you avoid predator and seek prey, avoid pain and seek pleasure, and try to look for a one-sided world.

And as you may know from experience, if you're in a relationship and are seeking a one-sided partner instead of embracing both the positive and the negative, it causes disturbance.

If you're in a business and are setting up fantasies instead of real objectives, you're likely setting yourself up for chaos.

Every area of your life that is run by the amygdala, other than an emergency when a fight or flight response is valuable, will not likely result in self-mastery or a path to power.

For this to happen, you are wise to move up into your executive center that is proactive instead of reactive, and that results in thrival instead of survival.

If you don't fill your day with high priority actions that inspire you, your day will likely fill up with low priority distractions that don’t.

Distractions are the impulses and instincts, infatuations and resentments, and seeking and avoiding of subjectively biased information that you misinterpret about your reality.

This includes putting individuals on pedestals, as I mentioned earlier, or putting them in pits by judging them and looking down on them. In these instances, you may try to change them to be more like you and attempt to inject your values into their lives, which is futile, in the same way that trying to inject others’ values into your own life is futile.

However, if you live congruently with your highest values, live authentically, and do it in a way that serves other individuals in their highest values, you are likely to have utility instead of futility. You can also maximize your potential in life because you're more able to create equitable, fair exchange with others that is sustainable.

As such, others are more likely to want to have a relationship with you, do business with you, share with you, and want to socialize with you, while you are in a greater position to empower all areas of your life.

The path of power has a lot to do with priority.

I often say that if you don't learn how to prioritize and empower your life, you're likely to be inundated with everyone else's expectations.

If you don't get up and fill your day your highest priorities, it will tend to fill up with things that aren't truly important.

Entropy, which is a tendency to go from order to disorder, occurs spontaneously in individuals who don’t live by priority and put their life in order.

The way you put your life in order is by first identifying your hierarchy of values.

I've been doing Value Determinations for over four decades now, and am amazed by how few individuals can identify their highest values.

On my website, there's a complimentary free Demartini Value Determination Process, which I would love you to complete if you haven’t already done so. It comprises 13 questions that will take about half an hour in total to complete, and it’s available at no cost.

What’s interesting is that when trying to identify their highest values, many people think of what they perceive they “should” value or “ought to” value, instead of what their life already demonstrates as being important to them.

Others write down a fantasy of what they perceive their values to be, but their lives don’t demonstrate the actions that lead to it.

I'm not interested in what you fantasize about in your life, but what your life demonstrates.

That's why completing the Demartini Value Determination Process can be helpful because once you understand what your unique highest values are, and start structuring your life accordingly, you're on your path to power, path of mastery, and path of self-actualization. You wake up your genius and leadership, and become inspired and vitalized by your life.

Living by priority includes learning the art of delegating lower priority tasks.

There are many tasks you may perceive that you “must do” every day. The real truth is that not all of those tasks are high priority tasks that are essential for you to personally complete.

Instead, it is wise for you to learn the art of delegation.

  • Every time you do low priority things, you devalue yourself.
  • Every time you do high priority things, you value yourself.
  • When you value you, so does the world.
  • If you keep doing low priority things, you devalue and depreciate yourself, and so will the world.

So it actually burdens you to do low priority things because you don’t maximize your economic and psychological potential. That's the psychology priority. That's why I take so much time to emphasize this in almost every program I teach around the world.

If you are free to do something that's higher in priority in your life, that's able to produce and serve more individuals and actually generate more income than the cost of that delegation, it's insane not to delegate.

You can read more about How Delegation Sets You Free in my blog post here.

In one of my recent Breakthrough Experience programs, I had a wonderful question from an audience member about values and living by priority.

The young woman explained that she was a qualified medical practitioner who had chosen to stay home to raise her three young children. Her husband worked outside the home for most of the day, and returned home too exhausted to help out around the house, while she grew more and more resentful about the mundane tasks she performed day after day while doing what she believed was the so called “right thing” by staying home with the kids.

In essence, she was spending her time doing what she perceived she “should” be doing in an effort to be the “ideal mommy” but was actually spending her days performing low priority tasks that didn’t align with her highest values.

So I suggested that she hired someone to help out around the house and go back to work for a certain number of hours a day. She would earn more per hour than it would cost her to delegate her lower priority tasks, and she would likely become more fulfilled, not to mention more present during the time she spent with her children after work and over the weekends.

After doing some work around dissolving the values of others she had tried to inject into her own life, she went ahead and hired someone to help out at home.

Not only did this benefit her family financially, but she also began to spend more quality time with her husband and children and saw her self-worth go up as a result.

Delegation liberates you from the bondage of weighing yourself down by doing things that are uninspiring, living by duty, living by what you think you should do and ought to do, because you haven't given yourself permission to go and do something that is deeply meaningful and more inspiring and productive.

As such, it is wise to ask yourself:

“What is the highest priority action I can do today to serve the greatest number of people in the most efficient and effective way that allows me to be inspired and to help inspire other people?”

If you do that, you are likely to move in the direction of an inspired life and delegating your way into liberty.

When you stop and look at prioritization, it changes your life.

There is no legitimate reason why you can't be inspired by your life and grateful for your life.

The only thing stopping you is not knowing how to prioritize, not knowing how to manage your life, not knowing how to do what's really important, and not knowing how to communicate what you do in terms of other individual's values to have sustainable fair exchange, to generate the income, so your vocation and vacation are the same thing. This is the path of mastery and power.

You deserve to have an inspired life, so get out there and start living by priority!

To sum up:

The greatest advice on how to master your life and rise to the top of your game. It all begins with identifying your life's true highest value, your highest priority and then prioritizing your daily actions and perceptions.

When I teach individuals how to master their lives, I often share how every human being has a unique set of priorities or values in their life. These are fingerprint-specific to each individual – no two people have the exact same set of priorities or values.

When you live according to your highest values or top priorities, blood, glucose and oxygen goes into your forebrain, which is the executive center of your brain.

So, anytime you fill your day with your highest priority actions and do what is most important, meaningful and inspiring in your life; you wake up the part of your brain that is involved in inspired vision, strategic planning, objectivity, execution of plans, and self-governance.

You are also more likely to wake up your leadership capacities because you will tend to be more effective and efficient in your actions and have more resilience and stamina in life.

On the other hand, when you fill your day with low priority actions, the blood glucose and oxygen goes into your amygdala.

So, instead of waking up your executive center for inspired vision, you wake up your hindbrain, which deals with conditioned reflexes, and impulses for immediate gratification and the avoiding of pain.

As a result, you are most likely to avoid challenges and seek an easy less-efficient path, while also taking on the role of follower.

In order to master your life, if you do not delegate lower priority actions, you will be trapped doing them which will depreciate you.

If you don’t fill your life with what you would love, it becomes filled with what you don’t.

When mastering your life, whether you wish to grow your finances, leadership, influence or your business, whether your intention is to transform your relationship, health or any area of your life, it all starts with first understanding what is highest on your list of values (click here to begin the FREE Demartini Value Determination Process) and then choosing to live by priority according to those values.

If you’d love to learn how to put the principles covered in this blog into action, join me at my 2-day seminar, the Breakthrough Experience, where I’ll introduce you to a powerful self-development process called the Demartini Method.

The Demartini Method is a breakthrough discovery and cutting-edge personal transformation methodology that results in a new perspective and paradigm in thinking and feeling. 

It is the key methodology incorporated in Demartinian Psychology. The Demartini Method consists of Executive Function Development exercises used strategically to drive the evolution of the brain - from subcortical dominance to prefrontal cortex or executive center dominance. 

It is the culmination of more than five decades of research and studies in numerous disciplines, including physics, philosophy, theology, metaphysics, psychology, astronomy, mathematics, neurology, and physiology. It’s a cognitive process that involves balancing your mathematical equations of perceptions through a continuous thinking and writing action, driving you from your more primitive survival brain (systems 1) dominance to your more advanced thrival self-governing (systems 2) brain dominance. 

The Demartini Method results in greater self-governing executive function and thus life mastery. 

It is a powerful transformation process used by many leading specialists in the mind mastery field such as psychology, psychiatry, coaching, mentoring, teaching, and holistic healing.

If you’d love to find out more, click here. You can also chat with a member of the Demartini team by booking a call here