For the past month, I’ve been listening to Gretchen Rubin’s book, “Better Than Before” on Audible (you get a free trial with your Amazon Prime membership!), and it’s sparked a lot of experimentation and reflection in my life. In the book, Gretchen focuses on the science behind habits, habit formation, how that relates to individual personalities, and culminates with a discussion of four main habit tendencies: Obligers, Questioners, Rebels, and Upholders. You can read more about the book and each tendency over on Gretchen’s website and while you’re there, you can take a short quiz to discover which tendency best describes you.
I knew almost immediately what tendency I fell into. Obliger, through and through. I’m motivated by external accountability and meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations I impose on myself. I don’t like letting people down, but I do have a tough time holding myself accountable.
Obligers are the folks who are the most likely to say they wish they were in a different category. They say things like, “I wish I weren’t a people-pleaser” or “I wish I could take time for myself.”
Instead of wallowing in the fact that I needed so much outer accountability to get sh*t done, I decided to look at my own life and see what has worked, what hasn’t worked, and how I’m motivated. I definitely consider myself an overachiever, but at the same time, I can get bogged down with details and never follow through if there aren’t clear guidelines set in place. That’s when I throw my hands up in despair and just don’t do anything. Ugh. In the book, Gretchen refers to this cycle of doing nothing as “obliger rebellion.” This made me think about my own journey to better health, a habit that took a few years to set in place. I knew I couldn’t go at it alone, even though at the time, I resented the fact that I needed to ask for help. I worked with a therapist, read a lot of books, wished I had met a dietitian, joined online forums, went to a gym and took group classes, met friends for lunch, talked with my family, jumped headfirst into work and other hobbies, and mostly just focused on creating a life that wasn’t obsessed with food and eating. Now, I feel like this can stir up the topic of “willpower.’ It’s not that obligers don’t have willpower, it’s just they need a bit of reinforcement to get going. Like a push on a swing or their own personal cheering section. Nothing wrong with a bit of encouragement!
Let me know in the comments below if you took the Four Tendencies quiz and what your results were! If you do take it, did you find it accurate? What were your thoughts?