Have you ever thought about how your personality type might impact your ability to achieve your goals? Now that we are into the new year, I’ve been thinking about my goals and wondering if there is something I can do to increase my chances of accomplishing the things that I most desire.
I came across the book, Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin, in which she describes what she calls “The 4 Tendencies”. The book explains that there are four main personality types and each one has a unique way of reacting to both internal and external goals. Internal goals are those that we set for ourselves (i.e. lose 10 lbs, run a marathon, stop biting our nails). External goals are those that are decided by external factors (i.e. show up to work at 9am everyday, drive according to the speed limit, etc.). The 4 tendencies are Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel. Once you figure out which one you are, you can make changes to the way that you approach goal setting so that you are more likely to be successful at forming new habits and achieving your goals. I’ll briefly describe each tendency below.
Upholders are rule followers. They respond very well to both internal and external rules and guidelines. Once Upholders declare a goal, they will do everything in their power to achieve it, whether it is a self proclaimed goal, or a goal placed on them by external circumstances, such as their job, or societal guidelines.
Questioners like to examine the rules, but will follow them as long as they believe that it makes sense to do so. Questioners will do some research to decide the best course of action to take in any situation before moving forward. Once they are convinced that they are making smart goals, they will proceed to move toward the mark.
Obligers can be categorized as people pleasers. They respond very well to external factors, but have difficulty keeping true to internal goals. Obligers will achieve their goals if they feel that someone else is being impacted by their actions, but they have difficulty staying in integrity if the only person affected by it is themselves.
Rebels dislike all rules. They will disobey their own self proclaimed goals and turn away from external expectations. Rebels do not like to be told what to do. In fact, the very idea of someone telling them to do something makes them not want to do it.
So, how does this impact your goal setting? Simple. Once you know what your natural tendency is, you can mold your goals to fit your nature. Here’s an example:
Say that you have a goal to be more active.
If you are an Upholder, you can set a goal to practice yoga every morning, or go running 3 times per week. The very act of setting this goal will make you likely to stick to it, because you will not want to break the rule you have set for yourself by going back on your word.
If you are a Questioner, you might do some research into what type of activity would have the greatest benefit for you, or which one best fits into your lifestyle. After answering these questions, you would proceed with the activity that makes the most sense for you to commit to.
If you are an Obliger, you may decide to sign up to take a weekly exercise class with a friend, or you can join a gym and sign up to work with a personal trainer for a certain number of times per week. You will be most likely to stick to your goal once you know that someone else is counting on you.
If you are a Rebel, you can decide that you are not going to set any preconceived goals about how you will increase your activity. Instead, you might decide to just do whatever type of activity feels good to you on any given day.
You can learn more about the 4 tendencies by reading Gretchen Rubin’s book where she dives deep into the topics of making and breaking habits. There is also an online quiz that you can take to find out your own unique tendency by clicking here.
I thought that I was a Rebel, but on closer inspection I’ve realized that I’m an Obliger. This will be helpful to me moving forward, because now that I know that I respond best to external motivation, I will try to set goals in a way in which someone else can help hold me accountable. Which tendency applies to you? Can you see how this might impact the goals you set? Please share in the comments below!
Have a wonderful week!
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