Writing in today’s Guardian on habit, resolutions and Gretchen Rubin’s fantastic new book Better Than Before (published in the UK in March). It’s about the psychology of habit and is an addictive and pleasing read (even for someone who is in the habit of reading a lot of such books about, er, changing habits). Rubin argues that resolutions are all very well, but establishing them is virtually impossible unless you have thought through your own attitudes towards habit and how you approach things. I strongly recommend it if you are looking to make some permanent changes in your life. (Warning: it is not a quick fix.) Her website is a fantastic resource: www.gretchenrubin.com. (So much so that it appears to have crashed on New Year’s Day — that’s a pretty good recommendation of how seriously people take her life advice.)
What I didn’t have room to talk about in the Guardian piece is her assessment of the four personality types: Upholder (someone who enforces rules very easily, never breaks resolutions, enjoys regulation), Questioner (can keep rules and resolutions but only if there is sound logic behind them), Obliger (good at keeping resolutions made to others — ie. “I will be there at 7pm” — but cannot keep a promise to the self — ie. “I will go running at 7pm”), Rebel (contrary, does the opposite of what they’re told, hates rules, celebrates freedom). By working out which type you most resemble, you stand a better chance of finding ways to make changes stick.
Unfortunately, the one I “get” the most is Rebel. (Yes, I know. I am wild and crazy.) I don’t like being told what to do and I am only good at following rules and goals if I have set them myself. Having read the book, it’s the category Rubin finds the most difficult to advise because if you are a Rebel you will only do the opposite of what she advises anyway. I just need to get a message from her telling me to eat loads of doughnuts. I eagerly await this message.
My other hat tip for life changing advice in 2015 is to subscribe to Seth Godin’s blog or check out his new book, Your Turn. Sometimes infuriating, sometimes inspiring, always original. Happy New Year!