Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Better Than Before Week 2

I am finally posting about this chapter! After my run yesterday (which was so. cold.) I spent the rest of the day cleaning my entire house, running a couple of errands, and driving 150 miles to the airport to pick up the college kids. We got home about 10:00 last night.  I am so glad they are home!

This chapter of Better Than Before is called, "The Fateful Tendencies We Bring Into the World." In this chapter Gretchen explains the four categories of tendencies we all have regarding our responses to outer and inner expectations--how and why we create, keep, or break habits. I found this fascinating! Here is a recap of each tendency:

  • Upholders--respond readily to both outer and inner expectations.
  • Obligers--respond readily to outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations.
  • Questioners--question all expectations, and will meet an expectation only if they believe it's justified.
  • Rebels--resist all expectations, outer and inner alike. (Rubin 16)
So which one are you?

When I first read this book I immediately classified myself as an Upholder. Then I took the online quiz on Gretchen's website which scored me as an Upholder as well. Lately, however, (like during the Whole 30 Food Challenge Jimmy and I did) I began to wonder if I was actually an Obliger. In fact, Leanna and I discussed this very thing yesterday during our run. I almost convinced myself that I was indeed an Obliger with Upholder tendencies. But this morning when I reread the chapter again to refresh my memory before I wrote this blog post, I realized that I am an Upholder. What made it clear to me that I was not an Obliger is the part Gretchen writes about Obligers in this chapter, "Because Obligers resist inner expectations, it's difficult for them to self-motivate--to work on a PhD thesis, to attend networking events, to get their car serviced. Obligers depend on external accountability, with consequences such as deadlines, late fees, or the fear of letting other people down." (Rubin 22)

Also, she writes that Upholders don't have trouble meeting deadlines, and they often finish early. (Rubin 18) That's me! I have no trouble meeting deadlines, and I take great pleasure in finishing a task early, before it is due. That is how I was in college. That is how I am now. I like to be ready for an event well in advance. With five children and all the business that comes with managing our family, I don't always finish my plans as far in advance as I would like, but I am definitely not a procrastinator, and my To-Do list is my biggest motivator. 

I am definitely self-motivated (once I decide to do something), and I do not need external consequences in order to meet an expectation. Do external expectations make some habits or tasks more easily accomplished?  Of course. But when it comes down to it, I can self-motivate. I think I do best with a combination of external and internal expectations. 

Here are some examples from my life:

Personal Bible Study: I set my own goals in this area and keep them. When I feel like changing my goal or plan, I do, but then I meet the new inner expectations I set for myself in the new plan.

Homeschooling: Again, I set my own goals for my homeschool, and I keep them. Do I sometimes change my plans or modify? Yes. But when I make the adjustment to my plan or goal, I keep the new expectation. I do not need a homeschool co op to hold me accountable to teaching my children. However, if I am part of a co op, my children are definitely prepared (usually ahead of time!). And when I am not accountable to a co op, we still get our schoolwork done, but it is on my timetable.

Exercise: I am a mixture of Upholder and Obliger in this area. The first couple of marathons I trained for I completed every single run on my scheduled. I felt the need to check off every single box. During later marathon training, if life prevented me from getting an occasional run in, I was ok with that. But the difference is I decided that it was ok to have the box unchecked. So I still met my inner expectation. I gave myself permission to skip. Leanna and I pondered this yesterday while running. Would we still do a weekly long run alone if we could not meet and do it together? Well, it depends. If I was training for a half-marathon or marathon, I know I would do the run alone. If I was just maintaining fitness until the next training plan, I may give myself permission to skip. But again, it's what I decide. Which tells me I must be careful with what inner expectations I give or not give myself. I am usually and Obliger to the training plan I am currently using, but I still think it's because of the inner expectation I have of wanting to check the box.
CrossFit--I do not do the workouts at home if I miss class.  So attending the class holds me accountable to the workouts. But I am pretty sure if I made up my mind to do CrossFit four times a week, I would. Whether I did the workouts with my class or at home. For now, my expectation is to attend CrossFit class on Mondays and Fridays when I am not out of town. 

I can't wait to hear from you. What is your tendency? Was it hard to figure it out? Did you take the online quiz or determine your tendency just by reading the book?


  1. I am really struggling to try to figure out my predominant tendency! I thought I was a questioner, because I tend to really research and question expectations and goals. But on the online quiz, I got "obliger." When I described the tendencies to my husband, he said "you're an obliger." I definitely see many obliger characteristics in my personality, but at the same time, I am a list-maker and have no trouble doing things like making my bed, homeschooling, cleaning my house, getting my to-do list accomplished....I don't need external accountability for those things. In college, I tended to procrastinate but not in a major way (I would wait until a couple of days before a project or paper was due, but NOT the night before!) With homeschooling, I studied many different philosophies, approaches, and curricula until I decided on what made the most sense to me, and I have stuck with it faithfully. I tend to question the status quo and do not go along with the crowd until I have decided that something is really worth doing or believing.

    So I don't really know! I am hoping that reading further will help me figure out my primary tendency. I saw that she has a podcast on each tendency and I think I will listen to the questioner one today (while I bake Christmas cookies...for trays that are going to be delivered on December 11...see, not a procrastinator!!!!) and see if I can determine whether I am an obliger or a questioner.

  2. Hi Roan! Well--I definitely figured it out, and was so intrigued by it that I wrote a whole blog post. I'm a questioner! And it was very liberating for me to realize that the reason I cannot/do not keep certain habits that I think seem like they are valuable is because...I don't actually subscribe to seeing their value. That was a watershed moment for me! Here's the post (I don't know if this link will work or not, but it's on my blog under Nov. 29.)

    I'm really looking forward to reading more about the tendencies now!!