Habits 101

I read Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before years ago, and I just loved it.

I’d read Rubin’s other books previously and enjoyed them a lot, particularly The Happiness Project, which was a book that follow a year-long experiment Rubin undertook focused on making small changes each month (in accordance with a monthly theme) to try to make her life happier.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Better Than Before recently, because I’ve been contemplating all the habits I am trying to form or maintain. This is fresh in my mind since we just moved to a new home. A big move like that allows for a strategy that Rubin calls “Blank Slate” – using a big change to start fresh with habits you want to keep.

One of the hard parts for me about Rubin’s Better Than Before is that many of the strategies she suggests are not helpful for me. She classifies all people into four different categories when it comes to expectations and habits. Upholders meet all expectations, outer and inner; Obligers meet outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations; Questioners meet inner expectations but question all outer expectations; and Rebels struggle to meet outer and inner expectations.

I am a Rebel, for sure. I’ve taken Rubin’s online Four Tendencies quiz several times and I always come up Rebel. It’s not a perfect fit, but it’s pretty close. I am not the best at following through with expectations, whether they’re coming from my mom, my boss, or myself. The positive side of this is that I am good, especially as an adult, at knowing that I can say no to things. I’m good at evaluating expectations from others and judging whether or not they are appropriate or fair. Not always, but a lot of the time, I am able to better deal with unfair expectations from others than an Obliger would.

The problem is that I really struggle with meeting my own expectations, and Rubin’s books don’t offer a ton of advice for Rebels. She does recommend the strategy of Identity for Rebels, and that sometimes works for me; thinking to myself that I am a Runner or I am a Healthy Eater is sometimes helpful. But not always.

Currently, I am sort of 50/50 on my January health-related resolutions. I’ve definitely cut back on my caffeine; I’ve been running every day; I’ve been meditating consistently. But I’ve been struggling to maintain healthy eating, especially when it comes to late night snacking, and that’s really frustrating. This week, I am going to consider two things: 1. Should I stop worrying about this habit?  Sometimes I try so hard to break a habit that I actually reinforce it! 2. Do I need a little more education (or a refresher on what I already know) when it comes to habits? This morning, I’m going to start listening to either The Power Of Habit or Atomic Habits on audiobook, and see if there is any additional insight that will help me on my quest to eat less sugar.

I’m not feeling confident, but I AM hopeful and motivated. Stay tuned.

landscape photography of snow pathway between trees during winter
Photo by Simon Matzinger on Pexels.com

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