I’m a big believer in habits. I believe habits have the ability to transform the way we live — professionally, personally, physically, and spiritually. But where do you start when trying to identify what habits you need to replace? Gretchen Rubin, who wrote and article for the Harvard Business Review, recommends identifying your motivations in order to form successful habits. Before you’re able to develop the habits you want, you have to identify your relationship with the idea of habits, and our “aptitude for forming them.” She starts with the question: How do you respond to expectations? We all do it differently. But Gretchen breaks our responses down into four categories: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. Do you know which one you are?
Habits have the ability to transform the way we live — professionally, personally, physically, and spiritually. Click To Tweet
According to Gretchen, Upholders “respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations.” Do you know someone who goes above and beyond to get their tasks done before it’s even due? Their main motivation is to fully understand and then meet someone’s expectations of them.
There are drawbacks, though. Upholders struggle when expectations aren’t made clear, and they will still commit to expectations even if they are unreasonable or unnecessary.
Unlike Upholders, Questioners don’t commit to expectations unless they deem them worthy of being committed to. Questioners are motivated by logic, reason, and fairness. And if a Questioner believes an expectation lacks purpose, they have no problem pushing it to the side.
Questioners are tireless researchers of expectations; which can be a good thing and bad thing. It can get tiring having to jump through so many mind hoops to decide whether or not an expectation is worth your while. In the article, a Questioner said, “I suffer from analysis paralysis. I always want to have one more piece of information.”
Obligers lean on the side of Upholders in cases of outward expectations, but have a really hard time responding to internal expectations. They’re great with expectations that are attached to deadlines, or other people’s wants and desires. But when it comes to personal projects or commitments, they often fail to follow through.
The downside of the Obliger’s mentality is obvious. They are people pleasers, often have trouble saying “no” to others, and lack motivation for personal investment and development because of these things.
According to Gretchen, an Obliger’s key to meeting expectations is external accountability.
Can you guess what expectations a rebel rejects? That’s right, all of them. Their main concern is their own expectations and goals, and they’re committed to completing those the way they want to.
“At times, the Rebel resistance to authority is enormously valuable to society—but Rebels often frustrate others because they can’t be asked or told to do anything. They don’t care if “people are counting on you,” “you agreed to do it,” “it’s against the rules,” “this is the deadline,” or “it’s rude,” says Gretchen.
Knowing your response to expectations, and the gaps you experience when trying to accomplish your goals, will help you nail down what types of habits you should be forming at the beginning of your growth journey.
For example, Obligers might need to start working on external accountability when setting goals and habits. Maybe working with a leadership coach or personal trainer or having a buddy system set up will work best for them in the beginning.
Are you an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel? If you aren’t sure, you can take Gretchen Rubin’s “Four Tendencies” quiz. She wrote a book about the Four Tendencies too — you can get it here.
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