Episode #15: Four Tendencies That Shape Your Life

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If you've been following my 100 Day Project, you know that I've been talking a lot about personality.

While this may seem like a superficial topic, personality touches many different aspects of our lives, from the career we choose to how we interact with others. Understanding our own personality through frameworks like The Big Five or the Myers-Briggs has lots of practical value for improving your life.

Another personality model I've found useful is The Four Tendencies. It was created by Gretchen Rubin, who also wrote a book by the same name

The Four Tendencies doesn't seek to explain as much as some other personality models. Instead, it focuses on one narrow slice of personality: how you respond to inner and outer expectations.

It turns out, this model explains more than you might think since expectations show up in many different areas of our lives. For example:

  • when adopting a new diet or fitness program
  • when changing any habit
  • when interacting with others at work, at home, or at school
  • any time we're trying to get someone (including ourselves) to do something

The Four Tendencies, Explained

I'll outline The Four Tendencies here so you have an idea of what they are but I highly encourage you to take the Four Tendencies Quiz to learn which one best describes you.

The Obliger

Obligers meet outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations. These are the kind of people who keep commitments to others but rarely make time to do what they want to do (or know they should do).

The Upholder

Upholders meet outer expectations and inner expectations alike. You can count on these kind of people for pretty much anything. Likewise, they have strong accountability with themselves.

The Questioner

Questioners tend to question outer expectations and meet inner expectations. However, if they believe an outer expectation is justified -- that is, if they can turn it into an inner expectation -- then they will meet it. These kind of people tend to ask a lot of questions before agreeing to something and can come off as stubborn. 

The Rebel

Rebels resist both outer and inner expectations. These are the kind of people who do what they want in their own time. The more you push them to do something, the less they want to do it.

My Conversation With Gretchen Rubin

I invited Gretchen on my podcast to talk about The Four Tendencies and how we can use this framework to improve our lives.

She shared tons of great insights, like:

  • examples of the different Tendencies and how they manifest in the real world
  • how to work with your Tendency rather than against it
  • how she uses her Tendency to her advantage
  • how she came up with this framework

We also talked about my life as a Questioner married to a Rebel and I ask her about other topics like how she approaches her writing and what her superpower is. I think you'll find a lot of practical value in our conversation...and hopefully learn a little more about what makes you tick.

Let me know your biggest takeaway by leaving a review on iTunes with something you learned in this episode. (I read every review).

Books & Other Resources Mentioned In This Episode


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Ruben Chavez is a writer, personal development educator, and host of The Think Grow Podcast. His Instagram account, ThinkGrowProsper, has amassed over 3 million followers. Along with his blog, these platforms are his way of inspiring and connecting with thoughtful, creative, and ambitious people just like you.