Why obliging types always need a deadline, even a fake one

Better Than Before - a book about making and breaking habits
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I love it when a plan comes together and I get to review something I read for fun. Such was the case with Gretchen Rubin – I am a massive fan of her Happiness Project and spent the summer bingeing on her Happier podcast library before reading Better Than Before, about habits. Then I wrote about it for The National.

The most eye-opening thing for me was her division of habit formation into four types of people:

  • Upholders: Need no external accountability to get things done (like my friend who actually managed to finish her pHd in a year. A year!). A tiny percentage of the population.
  • Rebels: Accept no accountability, even from themselves. Want to mix things up all. the. time. Again, tiny percentage.
  • Questioners: Will only do something if they can query it and it makes logical sense to them.
  • Obligers: Need external accountability – i.e. pressure and deadlines from other people.

This helps managers a lot in working out how to manage their teams – let the upholders and rebels get on with it themselves and focus on the questioners and obligers – answer all questions and give lots of the ‘why’ for the questioners to understand the need for a project and its deadline and set regular milestones and deadlines for the obligers.

And – aha! – I am 100% obliger. If I want to get things done for myself – well, I don’t. I get subsumed in other people’s deadlines. I hate that; it makes me feel so weak (which apparently is normal for all obligers, but you can’t change your type) but better to accept and learn.

So now I book in – and schedule into my calendar – exercise classes, rather than think about it on the day, have joined a running club to do a Couch to 5K course (rather than trying the app on my own) and tell other people my own deadlines for things that don’t come with deadlines attached, so I become accountable. And it’s working!

Find the four tendencies quiz and learn your own type.

Content Disclaimer

The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. Locke Digital Ltd disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.

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