Your Habits, Your Life

Did you know that we repeat about 40% of our behavior almost daily? So if we are truly creatures of habit, doesn’t it make sense for us to pick those habits carefully?

But sadly wanting to change (or start) better habits isn’t as easy as we wish. As I’ve written about before, there’s often a big difference between knowing and doing. And even when we do get going, it’s being consistent (or more likely not being consistent) that trips us up.

So what can we do about it? To change our habits, we first have to know ourselves and how we respond to expectations. Needing to understand your response to expectations might sound weird, but stick with me — it turns out to be very important.

When I read Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, the most mind blowing part was the framework she outlines about how different people respond to expectations and the difference in how we respond to “outer” expectations (things other people expect or ask of us) and “inner” expectations (goals and things we ask of ourselves).

It turns out there are Four Tendencies for how we respond to creating habits or changing our behavior.

  • Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations
  • Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense–essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations
  • Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike

I bet you can guess which you are, but you can also take a fun quiz that will give you your habit tendency profile.

And if you manage others, have them take the quiz to know how to support and motivate them better. Getting (keeping) people motivated requires a truly individual approach and understanding someone’s tendencies can really help you shape how to tailor your support.

And by the way, I’m an obliger. How about you?

Amy Varga

Amy Varga


Amy Varga is a beloved fundraising trainer, coach and consultant. She and her team at The Varga Group have guided over a hundred nonprofit clients to raise millions of dollars through their services in capital campaign counsel, major gifts training, leadership coaching, and board development projects.