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You donate to the gym every January.

I’m usually all for philanthropy, but this pesky habit needs to change. You know it does.

How come some people stick to their habits more easily that you?
At the core of our habits are expectations.
But why do we struggle to meet those expectations? (Ahem, actually going to the gym).

The brilliant Gretchen Rubin, author and habit zealot, developed a framework for understanding why we struggle with expectations and solved the puzzle for how to hack them.

The framework categorises people into one of four tendencies: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel.

If we understand our tendency, we can form habits much more easily.

There are two different types of expectations:

  1. Inner expectations (expectations we impose on ourselves)

  2. Outer expectations (expectations others impose on us)

Upholders respond readily to inner and outer expectations. They are easily able to follow through with their own expectations, as well as the expectations of others. E.g. They go to the gym because they expect it of themselves and because they don't want to let their gym buddy down.

Questioners respond readily to inner expectations but resist outer expectations. They question an outer expectation, and will usually only follow through with an outer expectation if it matches an inner expectation. They go to the gym because they've decided it makes sense to go.

Obligers respond readily to outer expectations but resist inner expectations. They oblige other people but struggle to commit to their own expectations. They go to the gym because they don't want to let their gym buddy down.

Rebels resist both inner and outer expectations. They don't like to be bound or to bind themselves; they want to do what they want to do - in their own way and on their own timeframe. They go to the gym because they feel like it, and won't go if someone expects them to (even if that someone is themselves!).

How to use your tendency to change your habits:

If you're an upholder dealing with burn out: take a leaf out of the questioners handbook and question why things need to get done. Is it reeeally necessary for you to do everything on your to-do list?

If you're a questioner struggling to meet outer expectations: Turn them into inner expectations (I will help my husband because if he's happy, it will make my life easier!).

If you're an obliger struggling to meet inner expectations: turn inner expectations into outer expectations. Have a gym buddy you can't let down. One word: accountability!

If you're a rebel struggling to meet inner or outer expectations: set yourself a challenge. People think you can't tone up? You'll show them! There's a reason the saying is "a rebel with a cause" and not "a rebel with an expectation."

Not sure which tendency you are? Take the quiz here!

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