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All around me women are talking about changes they want to make this year.
“I want to be more patient”
“I’ll concentrate on the positives”
“I want to be more focused”
“I’m going to lose weight”
“I will get back into exercise this year”
“I’m going to look after myself better”
“I want to trust myself more”
What if I told you that I know something that would increase your chances of actually making that desire a reality?
Want to know what it is?
I’m going to share this little gem with you.
Expectations and you
Author, Gretchen Rubin, is one insightful lady (even Oprah thinks so!). She writes about happiness, habits and human nature and her latest book “The Four Tendencies” explains that we all tend to respond to expectations in 1 of 4 ways. This response directly impacts whether we’re able to make changes in our lives and create new habits, and in turn, whether we reach our goals.
Expectations can come from ourselves (inner expectations), which is usually the case for our goals and desires for the new year, or from others (outer expectations), including our partner, family members, friends, employers and society.
Understanding your tendency can give you fantastic insight into why you have or haven’t taken action to achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself. And, it therefore has great potential to help you make 2018 your best year yet!
It’s important to remember that everyone is different and that these tendencies are not about putting yourself in a box. They’re simply a means to understand the way you usually respond to expectations placed on you.
Once you know your tendency, you can learn how to work with it to achieve your goals. You’ll need to identify the best strategy for you. What works for me, might not work for you. Gretchen provides lots of tips in her book, and I’m sharing a few here as a starting point.
The 4 tendencies
So, back to the tendencies.
Here are Gretchen’s 4 tendencies and some tips to help you take action to achieve your goals:
Upholders meet inner and outer expectations readily.
They’re motivated by fulfilment and like to know and meet expectations. They don’t want to let people down, be blamed for things or make mistakes. Upholders don’t like ambiguity or unclear expectations and usually find taking action relatively easy.
If you’re an upholder, you might need to be careful that you don’t take on too much at once and avoid being overly critical of yourself for slipping up, or not progressing as fast as you’d like.
To help you achieve your goals, make sure the goals themselves and the steps to get there are clear. To-do lists and schedules will also drive you to take action.
Questioners resist outer expectations and meet inner expectations.
Basically, questioners question all expectations and if they think it makes sense, it will become an inner expectation for them. Questioners dislike things that are arbitrary or unfair. They ask lots of questions (especially ‘why?’) and love to research.
If you’re a questioner, be careful of getting stuck in analysis-paralysis (my old friend). You may need to call time on your researching and just get started.
Gretchen says that Questioners may not like to set new year’s goals or resolutions because the timing seems arbitrary and they want to set the goal when it feels right (that made me laugh because it’s exactly what I wrote at the beginning of my post about choosing a word of the year!).
To help you achieve your goals, get really clear on why your goal is important (you need to believe in the reason). You’ll also need to identify the steps to achieve your goal and know that you’re taking the ‘right’ approach. You might find that you’re more motivated to take action with an approach that’s customised and therefore ‘right’ for you.
If you need advice or assistance from a professional, allow yourself time to find someone who you trust as an authority. Without this, you may have a hard time following through on their advice.
Rebels resist outer and inner expectations.
They’re motivated by their desire at the time. They want to do what they want to do. If someone else wants them to do something, they’re actually more likely to resist it (sounds like a 3-year-old I know!). In fact, sometimes they even have trouble telling themselves what to do!
Rebels may not even set goals for the year, because they don’t want to do something just because they set a goal in January. However, they might like the challenge of a goal.
Choice and freedom are the secrets to motivating yourself into action, if you’re a rebel. Make your goal as interesting and challenging as possible, with options for the way to work towards it. It might be useful to focus on why you want to do it and why you would choose it. Seeing the action as a way to express your identity may also work. For example, if you see yourself as a healthy and energetic person, then eating well will be an important part of that.
Rebels like to be different to other people, so consider finding a unique way to take action.
Obligers meet outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations.
They’re reliable, want to do things for others and may describe themselves as people pleasers. They don’t like being blamed or letting people down. Obligers may get so caught up in doing things for other people that they don’t have time for themselves. They often like to be a good role model, so will do things for others that they can’t do for themselves. If obligers have struggled in the past to achieve their new year’s goals, then they may even give up on setting them.
The best way to inspire action towards your goals as an obliger, is to set up external accountability (even for inner expectations). For example, to make sure you exercise, get a personal trainer, gym buddy or take up a team sport where others need you to show up.
Additional forms of accountability such as deadlines, monitoring progress, schedules and reminders are also useful to help you take action.
Can you identify your tendency from these descriptions?
If you’re still not sure, then take Gretchen’s free quiz here.
Just remember, no tendency is better than the others. They all have pros and cons. You won’t be more or less successful or happy depending on which tendency you display.
My tendency: no surprises here
I wasn’t surprised to learn that I’m a questioner. I love to question things and don’t tend to feel compelled to do what other people expect unless I believe in it. Researching is essential to me and I can become overwhelmed by having too much information, especially if it’s conflicting and the right decision isn’t clear.
My husband and I had a good laugh when we were discussing these tendencies. He’s always trying to get me interested in tracking the cumulative running data collected by my watch. I’ve lost count of the number of times he’s told me why I should do it. He’s been quite creative, even suggesting I could write a blog about it! But I really couldn’t care less because I don’t believe I need to track it. I use my watch to monitor my speed and distance during each run. I don’t need to know how many steps I’ve taken, calories I’ve burned or how many days I’ve run this year.
The other thing that really resonated with me was the need to trust an expert’s authority. On a number of occasions, I’ve been given advice or pressed to make a decision that I then didn’t feel compelled to act on. On reflection, I can see that it’s because I didn’t trust the advice or the person providing the advice.
Now I know I need to allow myself time to really explore the questions and understand why my goals are important, so I’m compelled to take action! I’ll be mindful that all my questions don’t exhaust others. I’m aware that sometimes people think I should just get on with it when I’m still not satisfied that I know the right way to do that! I realise now that it’s helpful to put a limit on my researching so that the pursuit of information doesn’t get in the way of me achieving my goals. This year, if I’m feeling particularly stuck and lacking motivation to act on one of my goals, I’m going to ask myself if I really believe in the goal or the approach I’m taking.
And that’s just a starting point, but it’s so helpful already!
(Take) Action Plan
Understanding what drives you to take action towards your goals is SO valuable.
What’s your tendency?
Finding out is the first step!
Then, identify the strategies you need to put in place to help you to take action. Let’s make this year amazing!
If you want to read more, then get your hands on Gretchen’s book!
Lovely mum, did you find this interesting and useful? Let me know what you thought and how you will change your approach to your goals this year.