I want to get more done and be more creative. So, of course, I turn to the internet to learn how I should do this. There are many different takes, and everyone thinks their way is the best. I need to understand them all to find the best one, right? Three hours later, overwhelm and confusion.

But sometimes, I read something that’s truly helpful. Thanks to a tip from my good friend Rachel, I discovered something on the internet that *actually* boosts my productivity, because it lets me take into account how I tend to be (someone who only wants to do what I want to do).

The framework is called the 4 Rubin Tendencies, by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, among other NYT best-selling books. In her happiness explorations, Rubin discovered that *how we respond to outer and inner expectations* has enormous bearing on how we build good habits. In turn, our habits greatly impact our happiness. Examples of outer expectations: deadlines set by your boss, traffic laws. Inner expectations: exercising 3–4 times per week, cutting sugar. So:

knowing how you respond to expectations → successfully designing and forming desired habits → more happiness


UPHOLDERS: respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations. They're motivated by fulfillment, love rules and getting gold stars for a job well done. Wake up and think "What's on the todo list and schedule today?"
QUESTIONERS: resist outer expectations, but responds well to inner expectations. They’re motivated by sound reason, very intellectually-driven, and always asking why. Wake up and think "What needs to be done today?
REBELS: resist both outer and inner expectations. They're motivated by present desire, freedom, individuality. Wake up and think "What do I want to do today?" 
OBLIGERS: respond well to outer expectations, but resist inner expectations. They're motivated by external accountability, and don't want to let others down. Wake up and think "What's expected of me today?"

What I love about this

Gretchen Rubin acknowledges we’re all different and emphasizes self-awareness as a crucial key to success. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried “foolproof” productivity tips or methods, only to find they don’t work for me at all. Most internet self-help articles declare “Do this now, it’ll change your life”. Problematic, because that's universally prescriptive and assumes you are similarly motivated as the author. Maybe you are, maybe you’re not. Though I question the validity of “type”-ing people (yup, Questioner) and I hate being labeled (hi, Rebel), I can’t deny how useful this framework is *as a starting point*.

What I don't love about this

I have a huge, major criticism of the Rubin Tendencies model, which is that it's predicated on a “fixed mindset” —it assumes that you’re not going to change, this is just how you are and that you yourself believe this. In stark contrast, endless studies and the current educational gospel laud the runaway benefits of living with a “growth mindset” — the belief that with time, effort, grit and making lots of mistakes, you will eventually succeed.

So for fun, you can figure out which of the tendencies you gravitate towards currently (via this quiz:…/…/Four-Tendencies-January-2015) and chances are you can use the information to work with yourself to grow and get to the next level.

I skew towards Rebel and Questioner, but I think most well-socialized people have an Obliger streak in them, don't you? Do you like this framework? Hate it? A mixture of both? Which tendency do you most identify with?