At the beginning of the year, I offered 100 strategy sessions to overcome procrastination. I found myself giving similar practical advice in many of the calls. I often shared about the four tendencies and how they affect the way we build habits.

The Four Tendencies


I first found out about these in the book “Better than Before” by Gretchen Rubin. She then went on to write about it in more depth with her last book “The Four Tendencies”.

Understanding this was a revelation for me. It helped me understand why I function the way I do. Not only did it help me understand myself but it also helped me understand people around me.

So what are the four tendencies? These are how we respond to inner and outer expectations.

First of all, there is the Upholder – someone who meets inner and outer expectations. If they set themselves a new year resolution, they will do it. If someone gives them a deadline, they will do it.

Then there is the Questioner – someone who meets inner but resists outer expectations. Whatever they want to do has to make sense for a questioner otherwise they will not do it.

The Obliger is someone who meets outer but resists inner expectations. These people work well with deadlines and external accountability.

Finally there is the Rebel who resists both inner and outer expectations. These people need to have a choice.

People sometimes think they are a mix of the tendencies. True, we do respond in different ways to different situations, yet we will lean towards one of them.


I’m an Obliger


Once I understood this, I knew why I worked better with deadlines and accountability. In the past, if I wanted to go running, I often had to sign up for a race otherwise it wouldn’t happen. Without the race, I would slack off.

I also learnt that if I want my Questioner husband to help me with something, it has to make sense for him otherwise he won’t do it. A couple of years ago, we were supposed to edit some videos from a big event and I thought he was going to help me with it but in his mind, it didn’t make sense to put the videos out. It took months and it became a source of frustration for both of us. Finally, I found out he didn’t agree with it so I was able to find other ways to finish the task.

Since I need outer accountability, I have both accountability partners and belong to a mastermind group. These are people / groups that help me keep on track.

Many Obligers tend to get upset about needing external factors rather than being self-sufficient. Personally, I now accept this and create the environment that enables me to get things done.

One of the keys to overcoming procrastination is taking action. I work with people on identifying their subconscious beliefs and then help align them to what supports them. Combine this with knowing your tendency, it’s a great way to move you forward, take action and build good habits.

Which tendency are you? Find out using Gretchen Rubin’s online quiz.