It’s Monday and I’m ready to tackle my habits, I think. Gretchen Rubin’s new book Better Than Before has given me a lot to think about this week as I take a look at my tendency. But before I get to that here is a brief overview of her new book. Like any self-help book it is about helping us understand ourselves better in order to master the habits of our everyday lives. Through research and storytelling Rubin takes us on a journey to discover more about ourselves and our habits and the science behind those habits, willpower and decision-making. The end goal being that if we understand ourselves more and how we approach our habits we will be able to be more successful in our habit changing ways. Her first chapters are all about self-knowledge and understanding what she calls our tendencies.
1st Chapter: The Four Tendencies
In determining our tendency we first must understand how we respond to expectations. Outer expectations such as following traffic laws and meeting work deadlines. Inner expectations are those we place on ourselves such as New Year’s Eve resolutions, less screen time or eat healthier. From her observations she created 4 distinct groups or what she calls tendencies.
- Upholders: these individuals respond easily to both outer and inner expectations.
- Questioners: these individuals question all expectations, and will meet an expectation only if they believe it is justified.
- Obligers: these individuals respond easily to outer expectations, but struggle to fulfill their inner expectations.
- Rebels: these individuals resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.
If you go to her site you can take an online quiz to determine your tendency. Online Quiz
Here she explains the 4 categories as well.
So, after reading her chapter and taking her online quiz I have concluded that I fall mainly into the category of REBEL!
At first, I thought this can’t be right. I have always done what is expected of me. I have never had a rebellious bone in my body. With all things related to self-knowledge I needed time to digest and reflect with the information. I had to take a step back and look at this through the lenses of my habits. In reading the section on Rebels one aspect did ring true for me, I do wake up in the morning and ask myself ‘What do I want to do today? And secondly, what needs to get done today?’ so if we can have secondary categories I think I would definitely fall into the Questioner category. Basically, yes, I would agree, fundamentally to me I prefer to make decisions from a sense of choice and freedom. However, I do not enjoy flouting rules and expectations either. I was a teacher and being in the classroom is all about rules, expectations and following them and I would say I was pretty successful in that environment as well.
So I sat down with my journal as I often do and thought hard about some of my life choices and habits to see if it did in fact fit into the Rebel category because I have never seen myself as a Rebel. In reading a part of the Rebel category a phrase stood out to me. A rebel who wants to succeed in school might say to themselves, “No one thinks I can get as good grades or get into university and be a teacher, but I will show them.” Whoa, I re-read many of journal entries dating way back to high school and I wrote those sentiments more than a few times. However, I had always thought I was trying to convince myself of that fact more than other people and that I could in fact do it. I never really saw it as being a rebel.
And I did do it. I went on to the University I chose, chose the profession I wanted and began my career just as I had planned out. Then I became a mother and everything changed. Being a stay at home mom to three kids had left me struggling with habits as I now realize so much of my time was devoted to them as it should be (I would do it again in a heart beat) but I was often doing things not out of choice or freedom but out of necessity. Like many of us I put most of my stuff on hold which is why I thought for sure I would have been an Obliger because as mothers we are usually putting others ahead of ourselves. It was my choice to have children and actually when I think about how I birthed my children I was a bit of a rebel preferring a midwife’s assistance over being in the hospital because I felt a midwife would allow me more freedom to birth in the manner I saw fit. However, my daily living with children and maintaining a routine with them as a stay at home has been where I struggled.
This comment on page 25 of the book sounded just like me as well. “If I have to do something ‘every day’, it guarantees I won’t do it. But if I take it one day at a time, and decide I’ll do it this time, them more often than not I end up with a streak.” For example, I’m the person who buys the groceries in the house and I have a lot of little of unhealthy snack cravings and my husband always says to me just don’t buy it but then I just want to run out and buy it and say ‘don’t tell me what to do’, aha moment, yup I’m a rebel. So early in September I had decided that for myself and my husband we have to cut back on our Pepsi drinking consumption. I’m at the grocery store and I can look at it and say nope not today not buying it. Yeah, victory. And I have developed the streak. 2 weeks now of not buying any Pepsi to bring into the house. However, as I will learn more about the book I also need to learn about all the loopholes we tell ourselves. I don’t buy the Pepsi at the store and bring it into the house but at a restaurant it was still my go to drink. Loophole? Baby steps, right?
Next week I will ponder her next chapter on Different Solutions for Different People which will help me understand more about myself and how I approach habits. And she has some journaling prompts at the end of the chapter I will work on this week. Questions related to ‘how we like to spend our time?’, ‘what we value?’, and ‘what are our current habits?’.
What can I do for hours without feeling bored?
Does spending money on an activity make me feel more committed to it, or less committed?
Of my existing habits, which would I like to see my children adopt? Or not?
If you are interested in more about Gretchen Rubin and her new book I encourage you to check out her site: Gretchen Rubin.com You will find the quiz there to determine your tendency. Let me know in the comments what the result was. Are you a rebel too?
Educator, Writer, Blogger, Mom
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