Tag Archives: Gretchen Rubin

Mastering habits based on your personality.

gretchen rubin quote

Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast that aired about a year ago. The host was interviewing Gretchen Rubin about her book Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits–to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life. The book delves into the methods that help us set habits and stick to them. Sounds like a lot of other books on such subjects, yes? Well, the difference is Ms. Rubin breaks us human-folks down into four distinct habit tendencies–Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel. She then discusses how these personalities relate to habits and how to set up your habits in a way that works for you and your personality. 

As I listened to the interview and discussion of Gretchen’s theories about the four types, I tried to self-select which category I would fall into.

Here’s a break-down of the four types from GretchenRubin.com

Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations.

Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense.

Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.

Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves. 

At times I’m extremely intrinsically motivated. At times I rank outer expectations super high on my to-do list….but sometimes I don’t. I couldn’t quite figure out where I fell in this framework.

So, I poked around on Gretchen’s website…AND took the QUIZ.

The more I read, the more I realized I’m a Questioner (and the quiz agreed). *light-bulb moment* Suddenly my intrinsic motivation to meet some external expectations made a lot more sense. I question everything and am able to self-motivate and form habits around what has answered as important. *ding, ding, ding*

Of course now that I’ve sorted this out I can’t wait to read Better Than Before so I can figure out ways to more effectively and efficiently set up habits in my every day life.

I also think this book could be a fascinating (and helpful) read for understanding the people we live and work with. Being a great educator, coach, manager, parent is all about helping people develop habits in the classroom, field, workplace, home. It might be nice to be able to speak to all four tendencies instead of simply relying on your experience from one.

Check out The Lively Show Ep. 82 and Gretchen Rubin’s website if this stuff tickles your fancy! I also highly recommend taking The Four Tendencies Quiz. And let me know–Which tendency are you??? 

P.S. I’ve read Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun  and would very much recommend it as well! (I’m totally outing my secret love of self-help books but c’est la vie!) 

Tackling that nagging, unfinished project.

unhung gallery wall

How do you go about tackling those nagging, unfinished projects looming about your life? Gretchen Rubin, author of the book The Happiness Project (a book I love, btw!) has the following resolution when it comes to such things: Finish the things I’ve started. Or put an end to them.”

I love that! A few years ago I applied this same principle to books. I had a bad habit of starting a book with great intentions, finding I didn’t like it that much, and then letting it sit on my nightstand for the next month as I told myself day in and day out, “I really should finish that book.” But then *lightbulb!* I realized I could read so. much. more. when I focused on books I loved and abandoned those I didn’t. Makes total sense that this could be applicable to other areas of one’s life.

Now, I know this wouldn’t work for everything. There are certain projects that just have to get done and can’t be cast aside for other pursuits. Like taxes. Gotta do ’em! But I can think of a lot of other instances where giving myself one of only two options: 1) put everything away and just call it quits OR 2) just do the damn thing! would make for just the kick in the pants I need. And make sure, just like with the books, that I’m only pursuing projects I’m actually passionate about.

What do you think? How do YOU tackle nagging, unfinished projects? 


(Photo via here by Janne Peters.)