What I Wish I Knew Before: My Tendency

If you haven't heard of "The Four Tendencies," you're welcome, in advance.

Actually, in all seriousness, something this simple shouldn't have made such a big difference, but it DID....

Did you know that not everyone responds to expectations in the same way?

That should be obvious, given that everybody seems to do everything differently.

The Four Tendencies was drawn up by Gretchen Rubin, a human nature and happiness expert. She has written several book, and is perhaps best known for her book, "The Happiness Project" and for her helpful and practical information about #habits and happy living. The theme I've most commonly observed in her work is that different people work best with different things!

I love how incredibly small and simple the Four Tendencies is, and yet how incredibly useful as well!

When we understand our Tendency, we can figure out what's helpful to us, and what's not. We gain powerful insight into how we can set things up so we make better decisions, engage with others more positively, keep promises to ourselves, achieve our goals, etc.

What Exactly Is It?

It's really, really simple - everyone responds differently to expectations.

Both outer expectations, like work deadlines, assignments, and requests from others, and inner expectations, like the desire to exercise more regularly or wake up earlier. And although personalities are complex and unique, people do fit into 4 distinct tendencies in regard to their natural response to expectations.

And that's it! This is just one small aspect of nature, so it will manifest a little differently for each person, but the main principles will remain the same. I won't go into a lot of detail, but you can find out more here if you're interested. First, see if you can recognize yourself in these brief descriptions!

Obligers respond readily to outer expectations, but resist inner expectations. If someone else expects it, it's much easier to do. Obligers make up the largest group of people.

Questioners resist outer expectations, but respond readily to inner expectations. The questioner only meets the outer expectation if it makes sense to them. Questioners are the second largest group.

Upholders respond readily to all expectations, both inner and outer. They don't have a particular problem doing something for someone else, or for themselves. Upholders are quite a small group.

Rebels resist all expectations, both inner and outer. If they want to do it, they can. If they feel like they're supposed to do it, they struggle. Rebels are the smallest group.

How Exactly Has It Helped Me?

I have tried and tried to set up accountability for myself, and it always fails. I honestly hate accountability! I stopped volunteering to join accountability groups or find accountability partners - I just couldn't stand it anymore! But I was still stuck in the struggle to get things done.

I hated goal-setting. I purposefully skipped the goal-setting workshop at a corporate training event for my business this past year, because I hated goals! How unhelpful. Not a great start to accomplishing things in my life.

I never set New Years Resolutions anymore either. I love the idea of them! But, just like goal-setting and accountability, I become frustrated with them very quickly, and they have never proven helpful to me.

So I wondered, "how in the world am I supposed to make myself do what I need to do??" Have you ever asked yourself that question?

Now I know why I struggle with these things! I am the Rebel Tendency.

You have no idea how relieved I was to hear from the expert that accountability, although vital for many people (particularly Obligers), is actually counter-productive for the Rebel Tendency. There are better ways to motivate Rebels! Such sweet music to my ears! There was hope!

I devoured The Four Tendencies book, which is packed with practical and insightful advice about how to harness your own tendency and how to understand, and work with, the other tendencies. I also realized what a genius my mother is: she seemed to know, intuitively, how to manage me - the advice that Gretchen Rubin gives to parents of "Rebel"children is pretty much exactly how she parented me!

I learned about other people too.

I learned that accountability is such a popular way to help people achieve their goals because it works, for a huge portion of us, specifically Obligers! It can be an essential tool to a happy life! I also learned there is a very good reason some people have an easier time saying "no" than others, and that to expect everyone to naturally do the same is unreasonable.

Going Forward

I can't list every single way that this knowledge has been influencing my life here in one sitting without taking up your entire day. But this has been one of my favorite personality explorations. And definitely one of the most practical!

I am learning how I can work towards a goal without hating the process.

I understand why reverse psychology works unnervingly well on me.

I have learned why my husband likes me to give him specific tasks, and I don't like to be given specific tasks.

I know what type of workout system works well for me, and which systems don't!

And, best of all, I feel relief, because I understand that different methods work for different people, and that's OK! Now I have a better grasp on what types of methods work best for me, so I can actually accomplish things, with much less struggle.

Why work against your own nature, instead of harnessing the power that you have?