Have you ever wondered why some people are much better at following through on their New Year's Resolutions than others?
Or why you find it easier to work to a set deadline, or train when you have a specific race booked?
The writer and habit researcher Gretchen Rubin has come up with an amazing construct that makes sense of this: the Four Tendencies.
It hinges on how you react to obligations set for you by others, as opposed to obligations you set for yourself.
As you can imagine, this makes a huge difference to how good you are at achieving your goals...
Discover your Tendency
Gretchen Rubin's framework describes four "types": Obligers, Rebels, Upholders, and Questioners:
Upholders: are very good at doing things for ourselves (inner expectations), and set by other people (outer expectations)
Questioners: are very good at doing things for ourselves, but resist those set by others
Obligers: are very good at doing things set by others, but not for ourselves
Rebels: resist doing things either for themselves or for other people.
All Tendencies have advantages and disadvantages - the key point is by knowing your Tendency, you can build on its strengths and mitigate its weaknesses.
So first, discover your Tendency through completing the Quiz here: https://quiz.gretchenrubin.com/.
Then review your section below!
Upholders: "do what's right even when people call you uptight"
Gretchen Rubin describes Upholders as those who readily respond to obligations: they meet the work deadline and keep the New Year's Resolution without much fuss.
They form habits easily, and tend to love schedules and routines.
These characteristics should make it fairly easy for an Upholder to implement new habits and achieve their goals.
They are able to make commitments to themselves, and stick to them, even without outside help.
Watch out for...
Because Upholders are so good at meeting all expectations, they can sometimes suffer from a lack of prioritisation about which expectation is most important.
They can struggle with changes in schedules or routines; and need to be careful that these routines don't become straightjackets, but can adapt as their needs change.
Questioners: "I'll comply - if you convince me why"
Questioners are those that only meet inner expectations, not outer expectations.
They want to gather their own facts, decide for themselves, and act with good reason.
They only meet outer expectations if they think they are efficient and reasonable.
Because of their focus on justification, Questioners should be able to implement these changes fairly easily if the value of doing so is clear.
The facts outlined in these Worksheets should help with this; but they may need to do some additional research.
Once the conclusion is clear, however, they find it easy to act.
Watch out for...
Questioners' need for information can develop into analysis-paralysis, where they get stuck in a loop of ever-continuing research without then moving into the action phase.
They can also start second-guessing their actions once started, as they wonder whether they did have enough information in the first place.
Obligers: "you can count on me, and I'm counting on you to count on me"
Obligers are the most common type of Tendency (and this is my Tendency!).
They readily meet the outer expectations imposed by others but struggle to meet the inner expectations they want to impose on themselves.
They find it very difficult to self-motivate, and can get frustrated by their own inability to follow-through on their internal goals.
Obligers are the mainstay of every community, and a valued employee.
Their love of external accountability can also be used to overcome their difficulties with inner expectations: create a form of external accountability for inner expectations, and they will be met too (a study buddy, an exercise partner, a promise to a friend, a public commitment).
This is vital for our purposes.