We all hear lots of information, especially around the New Year, about making and breaking habits. But does a “one-size fits all” way of creating a goal for an individual really work? Or can it be tailored more to your own unique personality?
Gretchen Rubin thinks the latter. You may have heard of her, the author and creator of the “Happiness Project,” among other things. Gretchen, in search of her own happiness, uses tools like up-to-date research, ancient wisdom, and her own insightful observations about the world to help us think outside the box when it comes to our happiness and the secrets to changing a habit (which is an interesting reminder that the two really are quite linked). The first step in changing our habits, she says, is that we must really know ourselves (see the questions below). In this way we can then figure out the best way to change, shift, and create new, lasting, and healthy habits.
Gretchen starts by asking these important questions:
Are you an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger? These categories describe how people tend to respond to expectations: outer expectations (say a deadline or a wish from a significant other) and inner expectations (run a half marathon, keep a New Year’s resolution, for example).
Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations.
Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense.
Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.
Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations that they impose upon themselves.
Once we figure out which category we fall into and how we manage inner and outer expectations, we can then better understand how we respond to rules, which essentially is what creating a new habit is all about.
In the depths of her research, Gretchen has also found that about forty percent of our daily lives are shaped by our habits. Knowing yourself better using Gretchen’s tools just may help you to create a more effective strategy for changing a habit that you’ve been longing to change, which ultimately could increase your day-to-day happiness and fulfillment.
If you’d like to learn more about yourself and how these questions correlate to creating healthier, long-lasting habits, check out The Happiness Project to read more and to take some of the online quizzes here (Are you a Tigger or an Eeyore? Marathoner or Sprinter?).