Gretchen Rubin thinks I’m an Obliger, and I think she might be right.

Written by Lesley Forbes, Owner & Principal Event Director, EventBuilders Inc.

In her New York Times bestselling book, Better Than Before: What I Learned about Making and Breaking Habits, Rubin tackles the question “How do we change?” and suggests one surefire way is by using Habits. According to Rubin, “Habits are the invisible architecture of daily life. We repeat about 40 percent of our behavior almost daily, so our habits shape our existence, and our future. If we change our habits, we change our lives.”

As a girl who chronically fails to enforce her own rules and resolutions, I dove into this easy, yet deeply insightful read, anxious to discover the magic formula for positive change. First, I learned, I needed to understand my Dominant Tendency. “It’s easy to dream that if we copy the habits of productive, creative people, we’ll win similar success. But we each must cultivate the habits that work for us. The most important thing,” says Rubin “is to know ourselves, and to choose the strategies that work for us.”

What I found out is: I’m an Obliger. “Obligers respond readily to outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations.” In other words, I work hard not to let other people down, but often let myself down. (This might explain why I can organize a multi-day business conference for 500 but neglect to schedule a simple hair appointment for myself before the event…sigh.) Usually people undertake new habits for our own benefit, but Obligers are more likely to do things for others, not themselves. So for Obligers, the key to forming habits is to create external accountability. (Lightbulb moment!) For me, that means letting my husband and kids know whenever I’m trying to form a new habit. As all parents know, kids absolutely love to point out whenever Mom fails to follow the rules!

As Rubin notes, “it’s simple to change habits, but it’s not easy.” I may only have formed a couple of new habits since reading the book, but I’ve learned how incorporating even tiny changes into my daily routine can have big results and have significantly improved my chances of success by knowing myself a little bit Better than Before.

Want to know your Dominant Tendency? Take the test here.


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