I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed with habits and their formation, but…. my husband would probably dispute that. Case in point; this book I can’t shut up about!
I forget where I first heard about it but, seeing as it’s about habits, and I’m all about constantly tweaking/ reworking / ruining my life I knew I needed to read it. The last book I read about habits helped me identify that I was chronically sleep deprived (through my own choices). However, I’d been struggling to form new habits (besides just sleeping more) with just Duhigg’s information.
Although I’m only 3/4 of the way through Rubin’s book, Better Than Before; Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, I can already tell it’s the missing piece of the puzzle. Rubin focuses the majority of her book on self awareness. By understanding how we respond to outside deadlines (those set by people other than ourselves, like a teacher or boss) and how we respond to internal deadlines (goals and projects we do primarily for ourselves like learn a new language or write that novel) we can understand what motivates us to form habits and more important stick with good ones or bust bad ones. Rubin also identifies common excuses for not following through or breaking a good habit and how we can plan and prevent such failures.
Before reading this book, I could identify some big habits and goals that I achieved and I thought I was pretty much the master of my destiny, except I couldn’t figure out why I succeeded with some things (like training and running seven 5Ks even though I hate running) and not others (totally fallen out of the habit of saying the rosary daily once I stopped daily runs/ walks). I also struggle with trying to keep a routine for my day. We sort of have a pattern we follow, however it’s easy for things to get off track and lately I feel more overwhelmed than usual. I know I need to buckle down more (not spend so much time online in the morning, get up at the same time, correct school work at the same time, etc.) and yet I’ve had minuscule success.
After only a few chapters of Better Than Before, I realized I’m a Obliger; I can meet external deadlines when others are counting on me, but I have a hard time meeting my own goals without external accountability. All the big things I’ve announced here on the blog I’ve succeeded at because once I open my big mouth, I feel the need to deliver. In the case of my Whole30, I know the support of my Facebook group was critical. I didn’t want to cave and let the group down. But once 30 days and Lent was up, I completely flubbed it.
That’s when I also realized I’m an all or nothing Abstainer. If I want to give something up, I have to give it up completely. I can’t moderate myself or allow myself a break occasionally. I completely fall off the wagon. I’ve suspected this in the past (it’s why I don’t keep cans of Coca-Cola in the house. I can’t drink just one) but I never thought about how this tendency shaped the way I create habits, good or bad.
Rubin identifies four types of people based on how someone responds to the deadlines or goals placed on them by others and the goals placed on themselves. Besides Obligers, you can be an Upholder with the ability to meet all your deadlines, a Questioner who can meet internal goals but questions why external deadlines need to be met, or a Rebel, someone who doesn’t want to be limited by deadlines, internal or external. Rubin has a quiz on her website to help identify your type and her book lists all the positive and negative qualities of each type.
So now I’m figuring out ways to incorporate more external accountability into my life. (Sounds like fun right? I’m great at parties.) In chatting with my husband, we figured he’s probably also a Obliger which is why we’re both dependable people, but together, it’s takes us a long time to get things done or make a decision. Without something motivating us like looming debt, an upcoming social event, or a layoff, we can putter around weighing our options for months. I decided I’m going to focus on a few action items for each week, publicly announce them in a weekly goals post and make sure Tony (and maybe the kids) help nudge me in the right direction. And while I don’t want to become a nagging wife, I’m willing to help motivate Tony with some of his goals…though he hasn’t’ asked me for that extra support…yet.
Can you handle a weekly goals post or are you hitting unsubscribe this very minute? I’ve shared new years resolutions and Lenten resolutions before with success. I’ve been fascinated with sharing other goals since reading Ashley’s monthly goal posts and I always enjoyed Melyssa’s weekly wishes even though we’re in totally different niches and phases of our lives. Maybe I’m just a list loving person. I did create a planner after all. But even now I can see that the items that lingered longest on my to do list were the ones with no clear deadline or with no consequence for not following through. Certainly, sometimes the list is too long to reasonably complete in one week, but I’m going to start small so there’s a better chance I’ll succeed (cause I don’t want to look like a fool next week.)
So this weeks goals ( a day late due to taking yesterday off):
- Post on the blog three times this week. It’s always been my goal to post more, however I haven’t been able to manage more than two posts a week for awhile. I hope to accomplish this by setting aside some time to write every morning and every afternoon.
- Spend three hours this week on a larger project (hopefully Saturday morning, as I work better on big projects in large, quiet chunks rather than shorter snippets throughout the week.)
- Go to bed by 10:30 p.m. and wake up and get out of bed by 6 a.m.
- Say a rosary each morning while walking around the yard. (So far so good on these last two.)
- Correct the kids math everyday at the same time.
(See the all or nothing pattern? Most are things I have to do every day which is currently not the case.)
Alright, I’ll let you know how it goes. Have you read Better Than Before? What habits do you want to change or add to your daily or weekly routine? Share your goals in the comments and I’ll hold you accountable!
I think I’m totally on the same boat as you. The whole 30 FB group was a total lifesaver in helping me stick with it and the all or nothing thing totally resonates too! Gotta check out that book 🙂
We did Whole 30 for Lent and it’s been such a big bust ever since Easter Sunday! Totally not doing a single thing since then. Except now I grocery shop and meal plan with this awful guilt tapping on my shoulder. Need to work on that. I’m getting meals on the table, they just have preservatives and the occasional/not so occasional HFCS additive in them…
I think I’m an obliger too just based on your description. My husband is definitely an Upholder and seems baffled that I can’t just set a goal and achieve it easily.
I’m perfectly willing to be the silent nagger for you to do your own goals: “Some of us will be definitely checking on you, so oblige us by carrying through!” (I just read Better than before myself, and I am a Questioner, so sharing my goals on that level can actually be counter-productive for me on this level, but I understand it works different for you.)
Ooo! So intriguing! I have been interested in reading a book about habits for a while. I’m great at doing things in the short term but as soon as I envision a life time of doing the same things it completely deflates me. I’m going to take the quiz and maybe buy the book…although I need to finish the KonMari book first!
Also reading a wonderful book by Emily Stimpson – These Beautiful Bones – An Everyday Theology of the Body. It is about how to live theology of the body in everyday life (not just the bedroom) and so far I love it.
I need to read this book. I already noticed some things about myself from your post that I hadn’t put into words before. The Obliger thing–so me. My own goals so often tend to be things that “would be nice to do,” but I don’t follow through 100% (or at all) when it comes down to it. Thanks for sharing about this book.
I’ve heard good things about that book! Setting goals has been really life-changing for me. Publishing them monthly on the blog gives me that accountability I need (even if no one reads them, just having it “public” makes me want to tackle them) and the 30-day time frame seems less intimidating and doable. Good luck to you!
Rebel. Not surprising.
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