It’s that time of the year again: Christmas is over, and the New Year is fast approaching. We’re reflecting on the past year and trying to determine what we want to achieve in the New Year. Whether you’re a New Year’s resolution-maker or not, when you set out to achieve any goal, it’s important to keep your personality and tendencies in mind so that you can set yourself up for success along the way. Trying to fight against your personality type in an attempt to achieve a goal might prove to be feeble rather than working with your personality to help you achieve lasting success.
Most of the information that I’m going to share today comes from the work of Gretchen Rubin, who has written numerous books on the subject of personalities and tendencies. The Four Tendencies and Better Than Before are my two favorites. If you like what you read today, you can check out either of those books for more information!
First up, I’d like to explain the four tendencies, which will probably be the most helpful to you when setting a goal or resolution in 2019. The four tendencies are a framework that Rubin developed to explain how we respond to inner and outer expectations.
Inner expectations are internal, goals/expectations we set for ourselves: “I want to exercise three times a week for 30 minutes” or “I plan to go to bed by 10pm each night.”
Outer expectations are external, those set by others such as a boss or spouse: “I need you to finish this project by the 30th” or “I need you to go to the store and pick up some chicken please.”
Keeping this in mind, we have the four tendencies:
Upholders respond well to both inner and outer expectations and have little trouble holding themselves accountable to achieving a goal. I’m an upholder.
Obligers respond well to outer expectations, but struggle with inner expectations. They do well when other people hold them accountable to help them achieve their goals (i.e. hiring a personal trainer), but have a hard time achieving a goal they set for themselves without external metrics set up to help aid them along.
Questioners question all expectations and will respond to those expectations that they feel are valid. They’re the type of people who ask a thousand questions before they go or do anything, not to be annoying, but simply to gather more information before they make a decision to spend their time on something.
Rebels resist all expectations, both inner and outer alike. They are the most difficult to handle and often become resentful of their own nature and inability to set and achieve goals simply because they hate being tied down.
You can take a quiz to determine which type you are here.
Once you’ve determined which tendency you resonate most with (you can definitely overlap; that’s normal), it’s time to get the metrics in place to help you achieve your goals this year.
If you are an upholder, you shouldn’t have much difficulty. Set a goal, make it realistic, give yourself checkpoints along the way, and you’ll be good to go!
If you are an obliger, it’s time to enlist some help this year. Hire a life coach, personal trainer, counselor, or find a friend to help hold you accountable. Do whatever you need in order to hold yourself accountable to the goal you want to achieve.
If you are a questioner, respect your desire to have all the answers, and start doing research in order to find the way to achieve your goal that resonates the most with you. I always think of the questioner types who join my sugar detox groups; they always want to know why we do certain things with the detox. I’ve learned now to have the answers ready to go to help them easily make the decision as to whether or not to join the group.
If you are a rebel, good luck! Just kidding – although rebels can be hard to narrow down when it comes to goal setting, there are a few ways to achieve your goals. Firstly, be ready when you feel a strike of inspiration and jump right in. If you wait too long, the moment might pass. Secondly, look for a goal that gives you freedom and choice so that you don’t feel forced into anything. Lastly, always stay true to yourself when it comes to setting goals. Setting out to be someone you’re not isn’t going to help overcome your rebel tendency.
Beyond the four tendencies, I also like to bring in a short discussion about another framework that Rubin has discussed: moderators and abstainers.
Moderators are those than have the ability to moderate. They can keep a large bar of chocolate in their desk for a month and never feel tempted to eat the whole thing. These people are VERY rare (even though society tells us the opposite).
Abstainers are those that struggle to moderate. If they have a bar of chocolate at their desk, they’ll be hard-pressed to keep it around longer than a day or two. Most people would fall into this category, myself included, although “chocolate” can be replaced with any number of items (most commonly food) such as candy, cake, or in my case, almond butter.
With this in mind, if you have a health goal in mind for 2019, it’s important to determine which of the two types above you are. If you are an abstainer like most people, trying to moderate might not be a good idea for you most of the time. Trying to just have a little of something sweet might be the trigger that sets off a never ending cascade. However, if you instead avoid your trigger most of the time, you might find yourself way better off.
Moderators, on the other hand, will struggle with hard and fast rules and restrictions, so if they are trying to avoid something that they know doesn’t work well for them (for instance, avoiding gluten in a recently diagnosed Celiac disease client), they’ll do best to find ways to “trick” themselves out of feeling restricted. They can achieve this by finding other ways to enjoy what they miss (making gluten free versions of their favorite foods every now and again, for example).
With all of this in mind, I hope you have fun planning your goals and resolutions for the New Year, whether you set them in January or not. Working alongside of your personality instead of against it is the best way to achieve any goal, no matter what time of year it is.
A belated Merry Christmas to you and your family and a happy upcoming New Year! Thank you for reading and for your support throughout the year!