If you’ve been around long enough, you probably know I love geeking out on the subject of Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies. They are a great place to start when trying to figure out how to set yourself up for success when building habits.
However, the Tendencies aren’t the only way you can categorize yourself. In her book Better Than Before, Rubin goes over other ways you can define yourself which she refers to as our distinctions.
Check out how some of these distinctions may effect your healthy habit building process.
Lark vs Owl
This is the classic Night Owl vs Morning Person. Because society mostly works to the Larks advantage, most “gurus” of one sort or another recommend cultivating a habit of getting up early.
Getting up earlier can provide us time for a new activity when we don’t feel like we could cram one more thing in after our normal wake up time. However, this may prove difficult for someone who’s natural rhythm tends toward going to bed and waking on a later schedule.
Scheduling the time when it makes the most sense to the individual is the key.
For an “owl”, rising early to go running would likely be difficult and make it harder for the habit to stick. Instead they might look at an evening class or a midday jog.
Larks should be cautious not to schedule new activities after dinner that could interfere with their need for an early bedtime.
Finisher vs Opener
Openers enjoy starting something new literally and figuratively and may have difficulty, well, finishing. Finishers, on the other hand, typically follow through on their projects without starting something new until the end.
Finishers are likely to stick to one open flavor of yogurt, one exercise class or one new habit until they feel it is “done”. Openers might have memberships at multiple athletic clubs, several open bottles of kombucha and a bunch of habit irons in the fire.
Openers should guard against spreading their habit energy to thin, while finishers shouldn’t be overly cautious to start a new habit when their current ones are sticking.
Overbuyer vs Underbuyer
When starting a new habit underbuyers may find themselves making do with whatever is on hand – an old pair of running shoes or the perfectly ok blender. Before they can even get started, Overbuyers are likely to go out and buy a running shoes, socks, an entire outfit, an activity tracker/heart monitor, water bottle and hat; or the best blender on the market plus a stock their fridge with an armada of smoothie ingredients.
Underbuyers should remember that investing in things that will support a new habit is important. Overbuyers should use caution and think about what they really need in order to get started because the mere act of buying the tools, will not get them started with the actual habit.
Simplicity Lover vs Abundance Lover
Simplicity lovers are attracted to elimination and simplification; Abundance lovers enjoy adding and variety.
Abundance lovers may need to guard against unnecessarily restrictive dietary protocols that make it difficult to have variety in meals. They may also be attracted to a variety of options for exercise activities, food and self care routines.
For those who love simplicity – eliminate complicated recipes, intricate exercise routines, unnecessary tools and equipment.
Familiarity Lover vs Novelty Lover
Familiarity lovers may find that habits become easier as they become more familiar.
For Novelty lovers, a series of short term activities such as 30 day challenges may work better than long term habits.
Promotion Focused vs Prevention Focused
These are more about mindset and the reasoning behind different habits.
While two people may choose the same dietary protocol, one may be more focused on it’s ability to prevent heart disease while the other is more interested in increased stamina.
Knowing why you are doing something can be particularly important for continuing a habit even if it gets difficult at times.
Small Steps vs Big Steps
Most people are better able to manage small steps toward change but there are those who are more successful when they jump all in. Know what works best for you!
Small Steps can help us avoid burnout (or injury in the case of exercise). Also, the accumulated “accomplishment energy” gained by each small step can make the process more sustainable.
However, that same accomplishment energy is created when an ambitious step is taken, propelling us forward in a big way. Big steppers may be less likely to lose interest in a habit, give up due to stress, or quit when they don’t perceive any immediate changes.
Satisficer vs Maximizer
In the Paradox of Choice Barry Schwartz outlines Satisficers and Maximizers. Satisficers will make decisions that satisfy their needs and nothing more while maximizers will research and refine their options until they can maximize the benefits of their choice.
Maximizers may have standards that are too high to be met or may end up in analysis paralysis because they do not know what the best choice is. This could be applied to choosing a new gym or type of physical activity to creating a meal plan for the week.
Satisficers tend to be happier because they make their choices quicker and easier and are satisfied even if something better comes along later because their choice still satisfies the core of what they need. This can be more beneficial for forming long term habits.
Rather than delaying working out until you find the gym with the best of everything at the best price. Choose the one that is close, open during the hours you need, a good price and has the classes and equipment you’re looking for.
Marathoner vs Sprinter vs Procrastinator
These less obvious as to how they apply to your health. However, I believe stress reduction and management is just as an important part of a healthy life.
Knowing whether you are a Marathoner, Sprinter or Procrastinator will remind you how you work best on projects. Even if that project isn’t making healthy changes in your life, if it is producing any amount of stress, it will effect your health.
Marathoners work best steadily over time. In contrast Sprinters purposely wait until the last minute because that’s when they thrive. Procrastinator wish that was the case for themselves but in reality they feel stress and anxiety over not getting started sooner which leaves them too stressed and anxious to get started.
Procrastinators will reduce stress when they:
- block off time for their project and only that.
- create artificial deadlines before the due date
- schedule time to worry if needed. Worry during that time and then get to work!
Moderator vs Abstainer
This might be the most important distinction for someone looking to make changes to their diet.
Knowing whether you do better completely abstaining from a food or occasionally indulging, will help you stay on track.
I’m mostly an abstainer. Contrary to what my brain likes to tell me, I cannot buy a bag of dried mango at Costco and eat it over the course of a couple weeks. It’s usually gone within a couple of days and my digestive system resents the crazy increase in fiber.
Moderators tend to do well with eating one square of chocolate per day, stopping eating before they’ve finished a whole serving and indulging in the occasional “splurge” without letting it turn into a binge.
If you’re an abstainer, you’re better off never picking up the bag of chips, lest you want to be left with an empty bag as the evidence of your inability to moderate.
When you know more about yourself, you can set yourself up for success and avoid the pitfalls of your nature. How can you adjust your habit creating ways to align better with your nature?
Snag a spot in my upcoming group coaching program Make It Stick. We’ll figure out how to make your habits stick by leveraging what makes you unique along with a shit ton of ideas and resources PLUS laser coaching with yours truly to help you tie it all together. BAM!