mastering habitsLast week I received a package in the mail.  It was an Advanced Reader’s Edition of the upcoming book Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by New York Times best selling author Gretchen Rubin. Since this book was  unsolicited, I wasn’t sure I was ready to read it, but rather than add it to the stack of books I have to read I cracked it open.


Understanding the Four Tendencies

As evidence by the title, the book is about how we build habits, what stands in the way, and how to get around the hurdles of creating new habits. It starts with self knowledge. She describes the Four Tendencies of people and how they view any new situation.

  • Upholders. These are people who are ready to meet everyone’s expectations, including themselves. They are reliable, self-directed, and rule followers. They make a plan and stick to it. They expect clear rules and struggle when they are not. These people find it easiest to develop new habits.
  • Questioners. These people question all expectations. They are motivated by explanations and thrive on reason, logic, and fairness. Questioners resist rules just for the sake of having rules. They make their own decision of whether they should pursue an action based on their own reasoning after doing extensive research. They won’t start a new habit if they don’t buy in to the logic behind it.
  • Obligers. These people do well with meeting external demands, yet struggle with meeting their own expectations. They are motivated by external accountability and find it difficult to motivate themselves. They tend to make and keep habits when they have to answer to others or because they want to be a role model, yet without accountability to someone else, their habits fall by the wayside.
  • Rebels. Rebels resist all expectations-of themselves and others. They enjoy things to be on their terms and will defy rules that were not their idea. They don’t like to be told what to do, and will often do just the opposite. Rebels often resist habits.

Applying the Tendencies

I know and work with people in my practice who fit all descriptions. This does a good job describing how to work with each type. Myself, I am an obliger with a touch of questioner. I do like to meet other’s expectations of me and will bend over backwards to do so. But I also like to understand and question the reason behind why I should be doing something.  My husband, he’s a rebel without a doubt.

Where do you fit in these tendencies?