In Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, Gretchen Rubin talks about the Essential Seven Habits which all of us want to learn.
A warning before you read ahead – in this post I unabashedly indulge in navel-gazing. You are forewarned.
Essential Seven Habits
1. Eat and drink more healthfully
2. Exercise regularly
3. Save, spend and earn wisely
4. Rest, relax, enjoy
5. Accomplish more, stop procrastinating
6. Simplify, clear, clean, organize
7. Engage more deeply in relationships – with other people, God, world
So I made a list of what habits I wanted to learn and mapped them to the essential seven. This is what it looks like.
What habits would I like to adopt:
– Wake up at 5.00AM everyday – Essential #5
– Write for an hour everyday – Essential #5
– Yoga everyday – Essential #2,#4
– Climb or elliptical or cycle everyday – Essential #2,#4
– Study everyday – Essential; #5
– Cook three times a week – Essential #1,#4
– Mindfulness in all I do – essential #4,#5
At first glance, it looks like none of my want-to-learn-habits belong to Essentials #3, #6, #7.
However, looking a little deeper, it is clear that the Essential Seven with the highest priority for me is actually #6, and everything I do tends to automating so I can get better at #6. It is also true that the one I have the most worry about is #5 – I do too much and want to do too much.
So learning #1
1. I crave simplicity, organization, clarity
2. However I want to learn and do too much which causes overwhelm and prevents simplicity
In the next section, Gretchen puts forth the four fateful tendencies – Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, Rebel.
Taking the quizzes and reflecting upon myself, I very solidly belong in the Upholder category – with shades of a Questioner. What does this mean for me? The good part is that I am self-directed and pretty much can do what I set my mind to. But the downsides – I definitely need to work on these:
– Compulsion to fulfill even pointless expectations (set by me and by others)
– I am very uneasy breaking rules
– I can be relentless and not in a nice way
– I can follow rules because they are there
– If I don’t watch myself, I can just go do that which gives me the most recognition
The fact that I have some slight leaning to be a questioner provides balance – those are times when I take a step back and ask myself, why exactly I am doing this?
There are some other quizzes there and I found the following:
– I am mostly a lark now – but I used to be an owl some 5 years ago or more. This is partly something I have worked towards and partly a stage-of-life thing.
– I am a Procrastinator who wants to be a Marathoner
○ My notes tell me to try to work more steadily and to try the strategy of scheduling
– I am definitely a good consumer – I mean an overbuyer (and not an underbuyer)
○ My notes tell me to remember that mere acquisition isn’t enough
– Between an abundance lover vs. simplicity lover
○ This was a hard one for me. I finally decided that I am now a simplicity lover , though I am sure, at one point I was an abundance lover. I am perplexed at this shift since I never consciously tried. Is this again a stage of life thing – or a getting older thing – or is it a reflection of how mainstream values are changing, and I am caught in this simplicity fad?
– I am definitely an Opener (and not a finisher) who loves to start new things and projects
○ My notes tell me : You are overly optimistic about your ability to take on additional habits
– I am definitely a novelty lover (as opposed to a familiarity lover)
○ Remember: Thirty day challenges are better for me than creating an enduring automatic habit. Or let me put it this way – a series of challenges will help create that enduring automatic habit
– I am promotion focused (not prevention focused)
○ This is obvious in my aims and goals and the way I frame arguments.
– I like taking BIG steps (as opposed to small steps)
○ My mentality of “Doing everything at once” is something I need to keep in check. It is definitely not a sustainable way of doing things
– I love blast starts. But I need to plan specifically how to shift from the high unsustainable intensity of the Blast Start to forever habit intensity
– What kind of transitions do I prefer? I love racing from one activity to other (and have not generally preferred unhurried transitions), since they make me feel alive, super powerful, super capable. However I am definitely teaching myself the pleasures of the unhurried transition.
Armed with this new self-knowledge, I realize that I am not the person I was in the past, and not the person I thought I was. And I will keep changing in the future. Now I also know what to look out for, what to be aware of so I can live the life I think I want.