Do you adopt bad habits easily but find it difficult to maintain habits that are actually good for you? Gretchen Rubin, author of Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits of Our Everyday Lives reveals how our individual personality types can determine how we respond to habit formation…
In my research, I’d looked for a good framework to explain differences in how people respond to habits, but to my surprise, none existed. Was I the only one who wondered why some people adopt habits much more, or less, readily than other people? Or why some people dread habits? Or why some people are able to keep certain habits, in certain situations, but not others?
The answer didn’t emerge from my library research, but from my preoccupation with the question my friend had asked me. I’d been pondering, yet again, her simple observation: she’d never missed practice or her high school track team, but she can’t make herself go running now. Why?
The ﬁrst and most important habits question is: ‘How does a person respond to an expectation?’ When we try to form a new habit, we set an expectation for ourselves. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand how we respond to expectations.
We face two kinds of expectations:
1 Outer expectations
(meet work deadlines, observe trafﬁc regulations)
2 Inner expectations
(stop napping, keep a New Year’s resolution)
From my observation, just about everyone falls into one of four distinct groups:
respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations
question all expectations, and will meet an expectation only if they believe it’s justified
respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations
resist all expectations, outer and inner alike
I decided to name my framework the ‘Four Tendencies’. Our Tendency colours the way we see the world and therefore has enormous consequences for our habits.
Of course, these are tendencies, but I’ve found, to a degree that surprises me, that most people do fall squarely into one camp, and once I identiﬁed the Tendencies, I got a kick from hearing the people within a given Tendency make the same kinds of comments, over and over.
THIS COPY HAS BEEN EXTRACTED FROM BETTER THAN BEFORE: MASTERING THE HABITS OF OUR EVERYDAY LIVES, £16.99, HODDER
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