Why is it easier for some people to stick with good habits and more difficult for others?  That is a question many researchers, writers and psychologists have tried to figure out.

Running and exercise is a habit for me now.  Almost every day some form of fitness gets scheduled into my planner.  That was not always the case.  Exercise became part of my routine because I didn’t want to get fat.  I can still visualize my three mile route – out and back from my house.  Those were the pre-Garmin days of using the car odometer to figure mileage. The goal of “not getting fat” morphed into the goal of “getting faster” then “going longer”.  By that point, running was a habit.  The good feeling (endorphin rush) I received plus a trimmer body was my reward.  We’ll get into rewards later.


Gretchen Rubin, the author of Better Than Before, came up with four personality tendencies.

  1. Upholder: This type of person is self-directed, easily keeps commitments, resolutions, and deadlines.  Making and keeping habits is fairly easy.
  2. Questioner: They are governed by reason, logic, and fairness.  This person tends to resist activities that don’t have sound purpose.
  3. Obliger: External accountability is their game.  They have a tough time using self-motivation and telling people “no”.
  4. Rebel: Do you know one?  This personality type resists any type of control.

RebelDonI think my husband is a rebel, but he disagrees and says he’s an obliger.  Maybe he’s a combination.  I’m sure there is some overlap for everyone, but your principal tendency can give you insight on how you handle habits.

So, you have a new habit you want to work on.  The first step is know yourself.  If you want to find out where you fall on the scale, take the The Four Tendencies quiz.

Let’s say I want to work on the habit – eating slowly to 80% full.  As an upholder, I like checklists, schedules, to do lists, etc.  The reward is checking things off my list.  If I write it in my planner, there is a 99% chance the new habit will get done.  But what about the questioners, obligers, and rebels?

The questioners won’t have a problem, if they agree with the logic.  They’ll ask: “Why does eating slowly help me lose fat?”

The obligers have a tough time creating and maintaining habits by themselves.  The best approach is becoming part of a community of like minded people, and/or find an accountability partner.

Now for the rebel.  New habit formation only happens if it helps maintain their authenticity.

Welcome to my world!

Question to think about: Why do you want to start, restart, or maintain a new habit?

Until next time – embrace the day.  Be ageless!