How Our Tendencies Shape Us

better than before

So my husband got me to listen to an audiobook.  This is weird, guys.  I’m the one who gives out reading recommendations.  But he’s been on this Audible kick since he’s in the car a lot and he chose a book called Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin.  I had no idea he was reading it and then he comes to me one day with this big news:

“I think I’m going to go on a sugar detox.”

I’ll spare you the details of our discussion (albeit heated) but the end result was that he was telling me that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another.  He started sharing about this amazing book he read about habits.  I was super skeptical.  He was convinced I’d love it.  So, being a self-improvement kinda gal, I decided to just take him up on it.

And I pretty much became obsessed with it.  It helped me to understand myself better and so much of what the author said about my tendency rang so true and explained a lot about what I choose to do and not to do.  There are four tendencies and I am an Obliger (you can take a quiz on her website if you’re not going to read the book yet).   This explains why I will tend to say yes to people often, work really hard for others, etc. but when I try to set a goal for myself with no accountability I inevitably fail.  I need external accountability.  This is probably why I tend to exercise more if I commit to a class or I pay for a subscription to something.  I also discovered that I am an/a:

Opener: I like to start things but am not big into finishing.  I like the excitement of the beginning and get bored easily.

Moderator: I have enough self-control to be able to indulge in things sometimes and don’t have to completely abstain in order to be successful (unlike my husband).

Lark: aka a morning person

Simplicity Lover: This was so not a surprise.  Others are Abundance Lovers (have lots of trinkets, keepsakes, etc).

I am also prone to novelty over familiarity, which explains why some people are more into tradition and others, like me, need change often.

I cannot tell you how helpful this book was for understanding myself and therefore taking better action for future habits/goal-creating. But it was also helpful for me to realize that we’re not all the same.  I went into this book skeptical, thinking that there are obviously basic ways to create new habits and maybe even some “ideal” ways of being.  I came out of it realizing that yes we are all different and that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with people who are different from me.  So with my Abstainer husband, it’s okay that he can’t just eat one little piece of chocolate; it just means that we can’t have it in the house or where he can see it if he’s trying not to eat it.  We adjust depending on our tendency.

The beauty of this is that we can all be successful in habit formation and self-improvement.  I no longer have to get down on myself for having such a difficult time keeping up a routine that doesn’t hold much value to me.  I can accept the fact that the only routines I’m going to keep are the ones where I have some kind of external accountability and are in line with my values.  I no longer have to try to convince my husband to be a morning person; I can accept that he does better at night and just encourage him to make sure he’s getting an adequate amount of sleep.

Gretchen gives so many practical tips for the various tendencies and general habit-formation that I don’t think anyone could walk away from the book not knowing how to take steps to better themselves in whatever areas are important to them.

I think understanding this could help those of us who want to live more intentionally actually DO IT.  Sometimes we hit a wall because we want to make a certain change but we don’t.  It could very well just be that we aren’t going about it the right way.  Maybe we were told there’s only one way to make it happen but in reality there may be various paths to get there depending on our tendency.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  What tendency are you (either from taking the quiz or reading the book)?  How do you see that shaping your future and your desire to live more intentionally (whatever that looks like for you)?

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