A big question in my practice is how I can support people best in building new and healthier habits. Author Gretchen Rubin wrote about it and identified four types of people when it comes to changing your habits. She also has an online quiz where you can find out which type you are and I often use this quiz in my practice.
Habits are so important in our lives. Thery are the foundation of our daily life: we repeat around 40% of our behaviour every day. They make life easier. Imagine you had to think deeply about brushing your teeth in the morning or fastening your seatbelt every day!
Because habits are so engrained and they make life easier, we humans can be reluctant to change them. It can almost feel unsafe. But if you can change your habits into healthier ones, that has a big impact on your life.
Now you will have noticed we are all different. That’s one of our main mantras in Functional Nutrition. What works for one person to build healthy lifestyle habits doesn’t necessarily work for you. Do lists and scheduling work for you – or do they make you want to run away. Are you someone who needs a lot of information about why a new habit works or do you just want to be told what to do?
Rubin identified four type – or tendencies as she call them. Central is the question how you react to expectations: both expections from the outside as well as what you expect from yourself, your inner expectations. Here are her four types:
Upholders just want to know what they need to do. They want to meet both the outer and the inner expectations. They avoid making mistakes or letting people down—including themselves. Upholders are very reliable, make great colleagues, love habits and create them easily. They get confused and find it difficult it when it’s not clear what is expected from them.
Questioners question all expectations, and only respond to an expectation if they think it makes sense. They only meet inner expectations. Reason, logic and fairness motivate them. They want to know why.
Because Questioners want to make well-considered decisions and come to their own conclusions, they’re often willing to do exhaustive research.
If they decide there’s sufficient basis for an expectation, they will follow it, but not if they think it’s arbitrary, inefficient, or ineffective.
Obligers need accountability. They meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations. They excel at meeting external demands and deadlines and go to great lengths to meet their responsibilities, so they make terrific colleagues, leaders, family members, and friends.
But because Obligers resist inner expectations. It can be difficult for them
to meet their aims for themselves. They feel very responsible for their work at the cost of their self care. So they often let themselves down.
Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike. They want to act from a sense of choice, of freedom. They place a high value on authenticity and self-determination, work toward their own goals, in their own way.
Asking or telling Rebels to do something often makes them do just the opposite.
For the most part, they don’t respond well to supervision, advice, directions, reminders, nagging, or routines, or doing repetitive tasks
What type are you?
Rubin does a great job at explaining what the different types need in order to build healthy habits. You can find out what type you are and get her great advice here. Let us know which one you are in the comments!