I am reading Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better than Before. She is one smart cookie. Instead of only reading what others have to say on a subject, she conducts her own studies. (I need to add that to my future good habit list.) She has broken down habit forming into four tendencies or four types of people. These tendencies give us an idea of how a person creates new habits. As with all group generalizations, you may display characteristics of two groups. The tendencies are:
Questioner: A person who meets inner expectations and resists outer expectations.
Upholder: A person who meets inner expectations and meets outer expectations.
Obliger: A person who resists inner expectations and meets outer expectations.
Rebel: A person who resists inner expectations and resists outer expectations.
I AM A REBEL. I view structure as tyranny. I hate it. I hate authority. I hate having to stick to any type of rules. I hate accountability.
What I do like is knowing that it isn’t impossible for me to create habits. We all have existing habits- many good ones- showering, brushing teeth, working, eating and a few not so good ones- eating too much, drinking too much and spending too much. I now realize that many of the ways I have tried to create good habits were never going to work given my rebellious nature. But instead of feeling like a failure at habit forming, I now understand that habit forming will take a little more creativity which is good since I like doing things differently.
Is it worth creating new habits and maybe getting rid of some old habits? If like me, you are repulsed by the thought of being bound by a habit, a routine and feel it is drudgery, consider the extra energy you spend trying to decide whether or not to do a certain thing. Imagine if you had to decide each morning whether you were going to brush your teeth. Although each decision only takes up a bit of energy, when you don’t think about it and just do it, you waste no energy. An added bonus is that you may even save a little time as well. I heard someone say that regardless of the skills we have attained and offer to the world, the thing we are really offering is our energy. We must guard this precious resource. What do we do that fills us with energy? What do we do that depletes our energy? Some things in life deplete our energy, but must be done anyway. Making a habit of these things will save us a little of our precious energy. And if that thing that you make into a habit is good for you, it may even add to your energy supply. Yes, add to your energy supply (think monthly massage, weekly time for yourself to rest).
So, I decided that I will try to create a new habits, a bi-annual 21 day detox. How did I, the rebel begin to create this new habit? Well, I believed I couldn’t stay on clean foods for three weeks and the people who know me well also expected this to be one of my 2 day phases. So, to prove us all wrong, I went ahead and did it. Clean food for 21 days. And, I felt great. Fast forward six months later to the next detox? The decision has already been made, I am IN. As crazy as it sounds, I tricked myself into rebelling against my own believe. As for the other types of people that I listed above: Upholders don’t need any help, they see something that makes sense both from their point of view as well as external points of view and they create their habits (boring to a rebel). Obligers often successfully create habits by holding themselves accountable to someone else like Weight Watchers/ Slimming World, boss, or personal trainer. Questioners do lots of research to convince themselves that it makes sense to create a habit. So, if you are wondering which type of person you are, there is a helpful quiz on Gretchen’s website. Here is the link: https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1950137/Four-Tendencies-January-2015
Or you can intuitively sense which tendency you are? Take a minute to answer the following questions. Are there habits you would like to create? Are there habits you would like to stop? Make a note of these. You can then think of how you have consciously created habits in the past and see if there are any patterns in how you went about getting these actions to stick. Jot down any similarities. And then create a plan which makes the new habit super easy. Super easy means that it is almost easier to do than not do. SO, sleeping in your running clothes and keeping your trainers next to your bed for a morning run or walk? Removing all junk food from your house and only shopping on line therefore staying out of the junk food aisle? Carrying only cash with you and only enough to do the errands you planned? As with all things in life, these things are simple, but not always easy. So, this is what I am learning.