Know yourself to form a habit! (with a quiz)

This week I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s new book ‘Better than Before’ which is a guide for how to help embed good habits (such as painting regularly) into our lives.

Gretchen explains that key to working out how best to do this (like so many things!) is to KNOW YOURSELF.

And to that end she has identified the ‘four tendencies’ which distinguish the way people respond to expectations: outer expectations (a deadline) and inner expectations (“I will paint twice a week”).

Here’s Gretchen explaining those tendencies and what they mean for good-habit-forming:

So in a nutshell,

  • Upholders respond willingly to outer and inner expectations (I’m an Upholder with some Questioner tendencies!)  Here’s Gretchen on Upholders:
  • Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense–essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations. 
  • Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves. 
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike. 

FourTendenciesFourInterlockingCircles-300x317Take the Quiz!

Gretchen’s set up a nifty little Quiz so you can find out which tendency is you. You can take it here

More to come

In the coming weeks I’ll share a few insights as to how we can use this self-knowledge to our advantage when it comes to sticking to that painting habit!

In the meantime, which are you? Do let me know in the comments below!

Happy good-habit-forming!





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  1. Jane H on October 30, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Oh I am 100% obliger. I found her explanations very comforting. I beat myself up a lot with negative “you’re just lazy” style comments when I don’t follow through on projects that I would really enjoy, whilst at the same time knowing that’s not true because in a team I am a hard worker. I just have always found it very difficult to be self-motivated. Thank you for sharing these videos.

  2. Kathy on November 19, 2015 at 4:28 am

    Thanks so much for providing this information. I am indeed an obliger ! The explanations were quite clear and made sense.

  3. Renate on November 23, 2015 at 2:50 am

    Very interesting. I am definitely a questioner with some upholder tendencies. Glad to find out that I am not the only pain in the bud but actually fit into a category with others.
    Thanks for the info!

  4. Carissima on August 24, 2018 at 9:00 am

    Thank you very much for this information. I must admit I `m a rebel. Good to know.

  5. Jkendall59 on September 30, 2018 at 11:22 pm

    Oh my, I’m afraid that I am 100% rebel through and through. Not sure there’s any hope for me forming a habit to paint regularly unless I really want to do it. I love that your online class is freely structured so I can paint what I want and when I want but I do need some motivation to not get lazy or discouraged and give up.
    I bought a new sketchbook and am hoping to make myself do small sessions of painting since I work and am so busy. Hope you do some mini sketchbook videos. Thank you!

  6. Barbara Connolly on October 22, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    Obliger. Felt really odd to me, but I know that I am an excellent team player and lead well. But I also like to question, a lot.

  7. Patrick Small on October 22, 2020 at 9:05 pm

    Questioner, and somewhat lazy 🙂 Bad combination I think….

  8. Kirri Hardy on October 22, 2020 at 9:06 pm

    Obliger and bordering on Rebel also…

  9. Rebecca Insel on October 22, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    Well, it’s official…I’m a questioner. How to use that to advantage is the question!

  10. […] daily  is one of the best things you can do to develop your skills as an artist because it’s a habit forming practice. It will keep you on track, keep your goals in your mind and it’ll get you to regularly […]

  11. […] Gretchen Rubin about what ‘type’ you are when it comes to forming habits, check out this post I wrote a while […]

  12. Gail Jones on December 26, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    I am a questioner. I tend to walk to my own drum beat and research before I make decisions. I don’t like people acting dominant towards me and trying to manipulate me to think or act a certain way. I am very self-motivated and goal oriented, but I would enjoy a painting buddy since I do like doing activities with a friend. Since I left here, I have been going thru other classes with watercolors and colored pencil. I am back here because I realize I still lack confidence in mixing and applying colors correctly. I love learning! I also think a painting buddy might help me to stay focused better.

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