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.
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