Habit forming and meeting expectations: what’s your tendency?

Below is a link to Gretchen Rubin’s Tendency Quiz.  The purpose of the quiz is to give people insight into how they respond to expectations and therefore make habit forming (or breaking) more successful.  

Rubin’s four types of tendencies are:

Questioners (question all outer expectations before deciding which ones to turn into  inner expectations)

Obligers (find it easier to meet others’ expectations than own expectations)

Upholders (respond to others and own expectations)

Rebels (resist both inner and outer expectations)

So, for example if you are a questioner, you will only respond well to an expectation that you truly believe is beneficial. Don’t waste your time trying to form a habit that someone else suggested if  you don’t think it’s worthwhile.

If you are an obliger, you will do best if held accountable by someone else (a deadline for a project imposed by others, an exercise partner expecting you to show up, etc). You’re better off involving other people in your goals- announce your intentions, ask them to check in with you.

If you are an upholder,  then I guess you are all set; you will meet your own and others’ expectations almost all of the time! You don’t want to let anyone down, including yourself. Perhaps you need a break?

And rebels need freedom. They need to wake up and decide what they will do. In order for a rebel to begin a new habit, they must have chosen it and decided it is what they want, not a rigid expectation from anyone, themselves included. Here is a very short video dedicated to understanding the rebel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jli-sW5LP-Q

Here’s the quiz to determine which tendency you favor:


Happiest New Year


Happy 2014! I love New Year’s Day. It’s the perfect time for setting intentions for the year ahead. No matter what people’s resolutions are, the purpose of them is always the same. To be happier. To live better, feel better, be better.  An old friend texted me a couple of days ago out of the blue:  Have you read the Happiness Project? It reminds me of you so much!  And the thought of that book, which my sister had given me a couple years ago as a gift, came back to mind.  The author, Gretchen Rubin, spent a year journaling her process of doing all things that she thought would make her happier.  Based on studies and theories about how to be happier, plus her own intuition, she spent the year trying  out her happiness project.  When I first read the book, my thought was what a great idea.  I love stunt journalism and this has such a purpose.   Everyone wants to be happy!

But what I really like about her book, which became an instant New York Times bestseller, is that Rubin jumped in to her happiness project wholeheartedly. She awakened to the fact that she had midlife malaise, and she made a firm decision to change that.  There are no half measures when you are determined and passionate about a change.  Rubin tackled all areas of her life, not just one or two. She didn’t just eat better, get more exercise, spend time in quiet, clean out her closets and get organized. She did all of those plus played more, slept more, loved more and pursued a passion. Any one of these things has been shown to boost happiness, but each area compliments the others.

I’m all for moderation in a lot of things, but when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, I say go all out. Harness your passion for happiness, your conviction that you are willing to make some changes, and do it with resolve. I happen to think that the reason so many resolutions fail is because they are made only with the head. I’m a believer in wholehearted commitments.  Life is too short for tentative steps. No dipping your toe in the water.  Become a runner if that’s what you know you need.  If you want to organize, never mind cleaning out one little shelf at a time.  At that pace, you’ll still be drowning in your clutter in 2015. Refuse to stop until you’ve eliminated everything that is in your way.   Obsess over a project that makes you happy.  Let the momentum carry you into more and more happiness, better-ness, healthier-ness, authentically-you-ness until you can hardly believe how great 2014 feels.

Most of us already know what we need to be happier.  If we just talk about it, think about it, analyze it, and pick one thing that we “will start tomorrow”, it’s difficult. The failure rate is high.  But if we commit on a bigger scale, with heart, with passion and conviction, that this is our life after all, then it’s simple.  So jump in with both feet, head and heart, and decide it’s going to be your best year yet!  Make happy happen.