Habit Myth #3: All Strategies Work for Everyone

Habit Myth #3: All Strategies Work for Everyone

Posted by on Jul 4, 2015

I learned in my direct sales career that everybody didn’t like the same rewards or recognition that I liked.  The same holds true for forming habits. The same for motivation. I’m a questioner (see below).  What attitude do you hold when it comes to motivation?
We continue with Thorin Klosowski’s thoughts on the myth that strategies and motivations to form a habit are one size fits all.  
Everyone has their own “perfect” method that helped them form their habit. Maybe they created a routine in a spreadsheet. Perhaps they followed the advice of countless famous people. But like most things in life, there’s no magic tip that works for everyone.
If you look through the archives at Lifehacker, you’ll find countless tips for helping form a habit, complete with examples and anecdotal evidence about how well these techniques work. But strategies aren’t universal. What works for you might not work for me. For one, our lifestyles are all a little different, so why I have (or want) a habit is completely different from yours. Motivation is different too. In her book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, author Gretchen Rubin suggests most of us fall into one of four different general categories with regards to motivation:
  • Upholders respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations.
  • Questioners question all expectations, and will meet an expectation only if they believe it’s justified.
  • Obligers respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations.
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.
Knowing which group you fall into can help you work through your own tendencies to find the best way to tackle a habit. If you’re not sure which you fall into, Rubin has a quiz that can help point you in the right direction. Once you complete the quiz, she deals out a little advice for your motivation type. For example, after taking the quiz, I was labeled a “questioner,” which doles out this advice:
Once Questioners believe that a particular habit is worthwhile, they’ll stick to it—but only if they’re satisfied about the habit’s soundness and usefulness. They resist anything arbitrary or ineffective; they accept direction only from people they respect.
That doesn’t sound super helpful on the surface, but it’s helpful when thinking about habit formation. If I’m going to take something on, I need to think it’s valid and useful, so you probably won’t see me going on regular juice fasts anytime soon. I also don’t tend to need much in the way of external accountability. If I want to go on bike rides four days a week, I just go. I don’t need a riding buddy to go with. However, if I was an “obliger,” external accountability, like a workout buddy, would probably be really useful in forming that habit.
Regardless of how you feel about Rubin’s particular metric, the takeaway is really the same. We’re all a little different and what motivates us to start new habits and ditch old ones matters when you’re trying to figure out an approach that works for you.

Want to read more now?  All four myths are found at Thorin’s blog here.

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