Thank you Gretchen Rubin!
I have been struggling, truly struggling, with getting things done and figuring out what motivates and drives me to get things done. I once wrote in a private blog, “It’s a decision to do! Nothing more. Nothing less.” I went on to say that if I wanted to change my diet or drink more water, I didn’t have to throw out my junk food or rearrange my family’s diet – I just did it. It’s the decision. In those moments when I make the decision I feel unstoppable.
Here’s the thing. There are times when I can’t make myself do stuff. I say I need to do something and then I go take a nap or I clean the house. I refuse to hold myself to the work. I struggle and more importantly I suffer. Nothing gets done and all of a sudden I hate myself.
So I try something else.
Maybe if I get someone to hold me accountable I can get myself to follow through. NOPE. That fails, too. It’s awful! The “have to” gets in my way. I start, but just fizzle and I fizzle quickly. And then, I Suffer.
What the hell is wrong with me? I know I can motivate. I know I can do crazy things and be disciplined and drive and make things happen. Why can I do grand things sometimes and at other times I can’t make myself do stuff and other people can’t make me or inspire me either? Even being contrarian doesn’t work for me. If someone says “I bet you can’t!”, I shrug it off and don’t really care.
DAMN IT! What will inspire me to “DO”? This has been my curse.
I was listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast and he was interviewing Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen explained there are four tendencies that form out of the question, “How do I respond to expectations?” It turns out that this simple word, expectation, is THE player in what gets people to “DO”. I was interested but not overly so.
Towards the end of the podcast Gretchen came back around to tendencies and asked Tim what he thought his tendency was. Tim is a Questioner and as they discussed the traits in detail I finally understood my husband! I was so excited, while I walked around the lake listening to the podcast, that I actually clapped my hands when they said something that totally explained who he was. I was blown away. I’ve never come across such an on point personality trait description. I had fallen down the rabbit hole!
Sadly, the only tendency they didn’t discuss was the Rebel and I had a feeling I was one. So, as I often do, I Googled the Rebel tendency and downloaded the book on Audible.
As I learned about the Rebel I started to become super excited to have this awareness of my tendency and at the same time I was terrified. This description of a Rebel from Gretchen’s book really rang true for me: “You can’t make me and neither can I”.
What was I suppose to do with that? I told my husband about our tendencies, from my limited understanding, and his response to mine was, “wow, that sounds really childish.” My heart was broken and I told him so. He wasn’t attacking me but he was saying exactly what I tell myself in my head every time someone tells/asks me to do stuff. First, I react internally with “Well since you want me to, I won’t.” and then another part of me kicks in and says “That’s crazy, you sound like a 5 year old.” And the dissonance begins.
Of course my husband’s compassion kicked in and we started to look for solutions. He wants my success and fulfillment as much as I do. “Maybe if you look for something you want out of the experience?” he said, “like when I wash dishes I think of how much I like the warm water on my hands.”
My husband is so wise. As I listened to the Audible version of The Four Tendencies today that’s pretty much the lynch pin for a Rebel. I have to do it because I want to do it. It has to come from me, but in a way that is a want, not an internal expectation. If I expect myself to do something, I rebel against myself. I know it’s crazy, but it’s true.
I could go on and on about this, but for now I want to learn more about how our reaction to expectations affects our actions. I believe this idea and the four tendencies Gretchen Rubin describes are a powerful framework for self understanding. To find out your tendency go to gretchenrubin.com.
So once again, thank you Gretchen! You have no idea the clarity you have brought to my thoughts, feelings and daily life. I feel empowered and creative and I really owe it all to your understanding of expectations and the fact that you’ve shared it with the world.
“You can’t spell rebel without the BE!” I love it!