Anyone trying to achieve a goal needs to know Gretchen Rubin. She literally wrote the book about habits. Better than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits is a fabulous resource that I’m sure I’ll reference multiple times here. Better yet, I’ll just urge you to go get yourself a copy.
Rubin’s book is based on a premise so logical that I can’t believe it hasn’t just been obvious to me all along. She posits that the key to adopting new habits is actually understanding how we respond to both outer expectations (public work deadlines, preschool snack day, etc.) and inner expectations (“I will write a novel in my free time!” Ahem, cough cough.) Only through understanding ourselves can we hope to work with our tendencies to manage real, sustainable growth.
Based on the common responses to inner and outer expectations, Rubin created the Four Tendencies framework. Here they are, according to Rubin (and yes, I’m now quoting directly from her site):
- Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations
- Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense–essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations
- Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
- Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike
I’ve stated before that I am a hardcore Obliger. Coming up, I’ll be giving my fellow Obligers some tips and tricks for working with your tendency (instead of loathing it and wishing you were different, as many Obligers–myself included–tend to do).
But in the mean time, you can always take Rubin’s quiz to find out whether you’re an Upholder, a Questioner, an Obliger, or a Rebel. I’d love to know… what Tendency are you?