The following post complements our recent interview with Gretchen Rubin, NYT Bestselling author of The Four Tendencies. Listen to the full episode on the audio player below.
THE MORNING BATTLE: HUMAN VS ALARM
6:00 a.m. Alarm – It’s time to get up. You promised yourself you’d go for a run today, but if you cut your post-run shower short, you can sleep for another 4 minutes at least. *pushes snooze*
6:04 a.m. Alarm – You decide to cut your shower out all together, but you’re definitely still going for a run next time the alarm goes off. *pushes snooze*
6:08 a.m. Alarm 5 more minutes. You’ll skip breakfast. You’re rarely hungry in the morning anyway. *pushes snooze*
6:13 a.m. Alarm There’s no way that was 5 minutes. *turns off alarm and continues sleeping*
7:02 a.m. No alarm. Wakes up and checks phone. Dammit, how did that happen AGAIN? *jumps out of bed, brushes teeth, promises self you’ll run tomorrow*
WHY YOU KEEP LOSING TO THE ALARM
On this week’s episode of The Happen To Your Career Podcast, four-time NYT bestselling author Gretchen Rubin dives into the science behind unmet resolutions, the anchor holding you back from your side gig, and the reason one “right way” might be…well…bullshit. A seasoned podcaster, she regularly co-hosts the Happier Podcast where she provides tips for making and breaking habits and success strategies for each personality type.
In her latest book, The Four Tendencies, Gretchen explains a personality framework involving, as you would guess, four tendencies. Each identified type is characterized by their tendency to respond to inner expectations and outer expectations. (Inner expectations being those you set on yourself—like New Year’s resolutions; outer expectations being those put on you by friends, coworkers, family, etc.)
To listen to the episode, click play. To read about it, continue down the page.
THE FOUR TENDENCIES: FIND YOUR TYPE
You can discover your type by doing a short quiz over on Gretchen’s site, or identify your unique tendency using the descriptions below.
Obligers meet the expectations of others but struggle to meet their own. This type is likely to abandon a New Year’s resolution almost as quickly as they set it—unless they enlist the help of a friend. They require outer accountability to make things happen. *If you identified with the alarm clock situation, another inner alarm might have gone off when you read this description.*
Questioners question all expectations. They decide whether or not an expectation makes sense, and in that way, turn all expectations into inner ones. They are big on justifying their actions, and they may encounter analysis paralysis—the state of over-analyzing a situation so long that they never take action or make a decision.
Upholders can uphold all expectations—whether inner or outer. Once they’ve articulated a goal, they can move forward unrestrained. These people may be perceived as rigid by friends and coworkers.
Rebels resist both outer and inner expectations. They want to do what they want to do when they want to do it. They don’t enjoy taking orders from others.
THE SECRET TO FIGHTING YOUR LIMITATIONS
Your result from the four tendencies test doesn’t have to limit you. The big secret Gretchen knows, and graciously shares with us on today’s podcast, is this:
IT’S MUCH EASIER AND MORE EFFECTIVE TO CHANGE CIRCUMSTANCES AND SURROUNDINGS THAN ATTEMPTING TO CHANGE YOUR INNER NATURE.
That’s it. Set up external parameters that help you reach goals instead of recalibrating your brain. We know. Now that you read it, it seems kind of obvious. (We felt the same way the first time Gretchen said it.)
THE FOUR TENDENCIES: KEY SUCCESS STRATEGIES
When you understand your innate response to expectations, you can set yourself up for success. Here are a few examples:
An obliger struggling to stick to an inner commitment to work out may set up external expectations by joining a gym class that takes attendance, inviting a friend to be their workout partner, or scheduling workouts with a fitness trainer.
A questioner attempting to make a major decision may spend hours upon end researching, getting sucked into a black hole of information. Knowing this tendency, a questioner should remind themselves exactly what it is they need to know and why the answer is important.
An upholder chasing after goals is unstoppable so long as they can articulate what they are going after. The first step to getting what they want is always stating what they want. Upholders must put special attention into clarifying goals.
A rebel might run from accountability instead of benefiting from it. This type may even resist their own desires, just to prove they don’t give in to expectations. To counteract the need to act in opposition to expectations, rebels should ask themselves, “What do I actually feel like doing right now?”
Now that you’ve read about the four tendencies, do you know your type? With more self-awareness than you had 5 minutes ago, you can get started tackling your side job, transforming your career, and living a more fulfilling life. For more help in taking control of your life and career happiness, click here.
Can’t listen to the show right now? Read the transcript here.
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