on habits.

Life is a juggling act, especially in agency life. Running a successful professional life alongside a personal, spiritual, emotional and physical life takes discipline. Sometimes it’s hard to say “I’ll do me, you do you” when personalities and projects collide.

Enter “The Four Tendencies,” the brainchild of author Gretchen Rubin. She discovered four types of personality tendencies to describe how people respond to outer expectations (like deadlines, projects, family obligations) and inner expectations (eg. cutting out sugar, exercising) while researching for her book “Better Than Before,” a guide to forming healthy habits. This so-called framework can help us learn about our individual, inherent natures and improve our relationships, productivity and self-mastery.

We can make sense of ourselves by figuring out our own tendency (quiz here). You can also understand why other tendencies might frustrate you. All four types have strengths and weaknesses:

  • Upholder: Meets both inner and outer expectations. These are the people who are frequently setting personal goals and then accomplishing them on their own, who thrive on structure and discipline. They are also known for being inflexible and rigid, but succeeds at keeping habits.

Motto: Discipline is my freedom.

  • Obliger: Outer expectations take priority over inner expectations. Often found dropping whatever they’re doing when someone asks. Definitely not a bad thing, just always making time for others and not enough time for themselves. Needs outer accountability to keep habits.

Motto: You can count on me, and I’m counting on you to count on me.

  • Questioner: Meets inner expectations, resists outer expectations. Often refusing to do anything unless they know why. As long as something makes sense, they’ll do it.

Motto: Convince me why and I’ll comply.

  • Rebel: Resists both inner and outer expectations. A rebel is less likely to do anything anyone suggests they do, including themselves. Rebels learn best from their own consequences.

Motto: You can’t make me and neither can I.

Understanding our natures makes it easier to figure out why we do the things we do. If you understand how everyone responds to expectations, you’re more likely to have more patience for the Rebels who need to come up with their own plan, or to use the Upholder’s tendency for perfectionism to get a job done on time. You can help an Obliger commit to their work by offering outer support, and you can use a Questioner’s critique to get the job done right.

Humans are complicated. Here’s to figuring us out, and finding more happiness and understanding along the way.

written by Decent Workshop summer intern Megan Allen.

GIF artwork by Daniele Buffa and Ty Dale