I had a long conversation with my mom this weekend. We were talking about her desire to start a workout routine. She was struggling because she couldn’t find someone to go to the gym with her. The girl that she planned to sign up with backed out.
As a health and running coach, I hear things like this all of the time. According to Gretchen Rubin;, a writer who studies happiness, habits and the Four Tendencies, 40 percent of people are obligers, meaning they resist outward expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations.
The example Rubin uses is, ‘I was on the track team in high school and never missed a track practice. Now I can’t get seem to get myself to the gym.’
A couple of years ago, as I thumbing through the Apple Podcast app, I stubmled across Rubin's podcast, 'Happier'. Ever since then, I have been obsessed with Rubin's Four Tendencies; a personality framework that divides us into four types. According to her, you’re either an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger or Rebel.
I took the Four Tendencies quiz and learned I was an obliger, meaning I meet outer expectations and resist inner expectations.
And then my life made sense.
Before I knew of her work, I was hacking my ‘Obliger’ self to get things done. For me, this meant finding people or things to hold me accountable. In school, I was on sports team, in clubs and on the newspaper.
As an adult, I find myself gravitating towards group activities. I volunteer my time to organizations who share my values, coach running groups and sign up for classes or trainings.
I find it easier to get out the door for a workout if I know someone is waiting for me. I have running friends who I meet at a telephone poll once a week. If I know they are there, I have no problem getting up and going. The rest of the week, I struggle to get out bed with a enough time to workout.
When I hear that someone struggles when they lack outward accountability, my mind says, 'hey, you're an obliger'. In Rubin's book, 'Better Than Before', she says obligers make up about 40 percent of the population and that they are the rock of our civilization. That's because obligers don't like being blamed or letting people down.
We come through when others won't. We volunteer. Sign up and show up. Obligers make time for others but struggle to make time for themselves. According to Rubin, the key is external accountability.
Instead of getting down about our tendency, we should embrace it.
Understanding the my tendancy and the power of accountablity has allowed for me to show up for myself. I've created structure in my life that allows for me to accomplish my goals.
I wanted to run a marathon, I signed up for a training group. Desire to help others, enrolled in a nutrition program. Wanted to give back, volunteer.
Knowing myself better has made a huge impact on my life and I think it could help you, too. Take the Four Tendencies quiz to get started today.