GroundFloor Media & CenterTable Blog

Back in March, I wrote about my attempts to become better at managing my energy (vs. focusing simply on managing my time). My results have been mixed, at best, largely because I find that it’s hard to a) break old habits and b) make new habits stick. Our agency recently participated in an Organization and Efficiency Workshop, facilitated by GG Johnston, and she turned us on to an interesting quiz by Gretchen Rubin that looks at how individuals respond to expectations. Called The Four Tendencies, the theory is that how you respond to expectations directly impacts how you form new habits – thus the connection to my energy management project.

Your choices are Obliger, Questioner, Rebel and Upholder – and each has to do with whether you’re more motivated by others’ expectations (requests, demands, deadlines) of you, your own inner expectations, neither or both. (It turns out my dominant tendency is Obliger, which means I’m much better at meeting others’ expectations than I am at fulfilling promises I make solely to myself.) This becomes important when you’re trying to form new habits – e.g., leaving for meetings ten minutes earlier than usual to make sure you arrive calm and on time vs. trying to squeeze in one more to-do in those 10 minutes and racing in to the meeting at the last minute with your hair on fire – because if you’re an Obliger, your promise to yourself that you’re going to leave 10 minutes earlier is going to fly out the window when a client asks you for something ASAP, and you’ve got just enough time to meet that request and still (if the traffic and parking gods are smiling on you) make it to your meeting. End result – you may meet that “ASAP” deadline, but your stress levels will be soaring and you’ll likely end up arriving at your meeting late and flustered (none of which is good on the energy management front).

For Obligers, having some sort external accountability for meeting your goals is a great way to make sure new habits or practices stick. (I’m still figuring out the specifics of applying this newfound insight in my own world, but this basic assertion does make sense.) Of course, other strategies work better for the other tendencies. I encourage you to take the quiz referenced above to see where you fall. Do the results resonate with you? And if so, what related tips and tricks have worked well for you?

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