In her latest book, Better than Before, happiness guru Gretchen Rubin offers advice on how we can form new habits that will make us healthier and happier. It’s an engaging book, equal parts research and personal observation, with lots of practical strategies.
But to be honest, you’ve probably heard most of this advice before: keep a log of the behavior you’re trying to change, remove obstacles, pre-commit, find support, create accountability, and so on.
For me, the most useful insight in Rubin’s book is that habit change is not a one-size-fits-all prescription. The strategies that work for me may not work for you. I’m what Gretchen calls “a Questioner.” I can’t get motivated to do something without compelling evidence that I will be better off if I do it. Others (the “Obligers”) are more likely to follow through with something if they’ve promised someone else that they will.
Some people are attracted to the all-or-nothing approach, such as the popular challenge where you forgo all sugar, grains, meat, dairy, alcohol and processed foods for 30 days. While that sort of inflexibility is exactly what keeps some people in the harness, others do better when they have a little wiggle room.
Ironically, perfectionists are often drawn to the purity of an all-or-nothing approach. But they’re also often the types who, if they slip up, are likely to throw in the towel altogether. And I’d rather see you make a modest change that you can sustain indefinitely than a big dramatic gesture that only lasts a few days or weeks.
All of this was very much on my mind as I was designing the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade (which kicks off in just a few days!!).
The goal of this program is to upgrade your nutrition by improving your eating habits. (And to have some fun together.) And I’ve designed an approach that I think works for both Questioners and Obligers, that is challenging enough to make a difference, but also forgiving enough to survive real life. Most of all, that leads to positive changes that you can sustain well beyond 30 days.
If you’d like to join us, all the details are here.
One thought on “What’s your habit changing style?”
Oh how this pleased me to see two of my favorites–you and Gretchen Rubin–come together in the same post! I do think about her Abstainer/Moderator dichotomy often when trying to upgrade my food choices: do I forego sweets entirely or allow myself just a little? I’m actually still trying to figure that one out for myself, but I think her personality types are generally helpful for working on nutritional habits.