#61 Time to understand how you work
Getting things done doesn’t need to be a lifelong struggle. In my pursuit of trying to find the differences between what makes me addicted to work vs able to procrastinate for so long I seriously consider moving in with my grandma and quitting everything, I’ve recently discovered a brilliant framework for determining just why I can be a productivity queen on some tasks and a bratty toddler on the next. Let me share it. Turns out, a major predictor of our chance to want to do (and eventually do) something, is our personal response to internal and external expectations: Internal expectations: an expectation, rule, deadline, request you have for yourself External expectations: an expectation, rule, deadline, request other people have for you If you figure out your ideal expectation language, you figure out how to get yourself to want to do things (more or less). Gretchen Rubin came up with 4 categories of people based on this distinction, pick yours and motivate accordingly. If you want to read more on this concept and take the full quiz to figure out your type, my link will give you free access to the book summary and questions on Shortform here.
Definition: responds well to both internal and internal expectations, loves meeting them all. This is someone who loves rules, enjoys ticking things off a list, appreciates being told clearly what to do, feels free and productive when they have a framework and expectations laid out clearly for them. They likely stick to habits, have clear goals, like prioritising tasks. If you’re an upholder, firstly, lucky you (sadly, this isn’t me). You probably aren’t on this newsletter actually, but if you are: great work. All you need to focus on is asking for clear guidance on your tasks, keep making checklists and sticking to your values. Ask for clarity and enjoy the work.
The Questioner (me)
Definition: responds well to internal expectations, but not external expectations. This was so relieving for me to see properly explained: the questioner is someone who is committed to logic, information and efficiencly and refuses arbitrary, inefficient, illogical expectations. If you find yourself asking people why you need to something, or why it needs to be done that way, this is you too. Our strengths are that we are self directed and don’t need supervision, but our weakness is that if things don’t make sense to us, seem unreasonable or don’t meet our internal expectations: they’re almost impossible to do. And we can come across as twats as we seem to raise needless questions endlessly. If you’re a questioner, firstly remind yourself of this. If you’re struggling to get something done, ask yourself (or your manager) why you need to do it. Try and find the logical justification for why things make sense. Answer the endless ‘why-s’ in your mind. The stronger your internal expectation, the stronger the reason and justification, the more likely you’ll want to do something. ALWAYS find the why.
Definition: responds well to external expectations, but not internal expectations. This is someone who can meet all their bosses deadlines, show up for their friends, help someone find a job or house, but when it comes to themselves, is nowhere near enough motivated to complete tasks, not matter how important they are. Your strengths as an obliger are that you’re the best friend in the world, and definitely a great coworker or employee. The easy solution to your personal achievements though is a good accountability group. Pick a friend or partner or group of people, set up a whatsapp group chat and ask them or each other to check up on you and hold you accountable for getting things done. Don’t feel weak for being told to something, but don’t say yes to everything you’re asked to do for others!
Definition: Resists all expectations, internal and external - just does what they want to do in the moment. This is someone who actually stops enjoying something they previously liked when they are told to do it. When they are told to do something, they actually feel the instinct to do the opposite. Now while I shudder at the thought of this affliction, I do have friends like this I absolutely adore. Rebels are fun and free and inspiring and definitely challenge people’s natural instinct to offer advice or help. If you’re a rebel, don’t focus on the expectations of a task, focus on yourfreedom to make a choice. Ask people to step back after they’ve presented you with options, don’t think you’re committing to or stuck in a decision, just see what you feel like doing - and double check it’s reasonable.
As a last note, I don’t agree with Gretchen on the view that these types cannot be changed. She believes we’re born one way and we stay in our type for life. I’m almost certain I’ve come from a strong Obliger to a strong Upholder - so do let me know if you’ve also found yourself shift throughout your life too. PS. I’m unintentially making much longer newsletters now - if you got this far and have an extra second: love or hate the longer length? PPS. I usually hate personality tests, but why did I actually enjoy this?