As an occasional Twitter user, I’ve been following Gretchen Rubin, an author and general ponderer. She’s written a book called The Four Tendencies, which I think is brilliant. I wrote about her last year and thought her ideas were so poignant at this time of year that I would return to it, as a refresher or reminder. Here’s the original post, with the link to her online questionnaire.
Have you ever wondered why some people find it really easy to stick to plans, resolutions and habits? Or why some people declare they will do more exercise, eat/drink less and generally look after themselves more… and then give up after a few days? This has always puzzled me and I wasn’t quite sure what was so tricky about sticking to a healthy habit (yes, I live a simple, child-free existence!). Then I came across Gretchen Rubin, an author, whose latest research explained it. She writes about people’s habits and came up with the idea that we all fit broadly into four different tendencies. In a nutshell, it distinguishes how people tend to respond to expectations: outer expectations (a deadline, a request from a partner) and inner expectations (write a novel in your free time, keep a New Year’s resolution).
Our responses to expectations may sound slightly obscure, but it turns out to be very important.
· Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations
· Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense – essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations
· Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
· Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike
Knowing all this got me thinking about health-related habits and sticking to them: if, like me, you identify as an Upholder, forming habits and sticking to the plan is not difficult. Turns out Upholders are quite rare, so no wonder I was puzzled by other people’s behaviour. If you fancy finding out a bit more about yourself, have a go at the quiz http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/3163256/Gretchen-Rubin-s-Quiz-The-Four-Tendencies-Fall2016. Fascinating!
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