Making Healthy Habits Stick: Part 1

Healthy habits come from regular practice and discipline, right? Many other co-factors make this a complicated question. Your unique personality traits actually play a big role.  How do your habits impact your health? Do you know what it takes to make a new routine stick?

What if there was a way to figure this out? Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better Than Before may help. She’s identified four personality types, or tendencies, based on the way people develop habits and make decisions. I have become a bit obsessed with this categorization and now look for signs in my friends to see which category they fall in. I’ll first define the four and then provide some examples.

Upholder – “Respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations”

Questioner – “Question all expectations, and will meet an expectation only if they believe it’s justified.”

Obliger – “Respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations.”

Rebel – “Resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.”

I’ll use myself as an example. I’m a classic Questioner. I will not commit to anything until I have done the proper research and am satisfied with my findings (one of the reasons why I like demystifying the diet/food world). So if a friend recommends a new restaurant I won’t try it until I look over the menu and read several reviews. The same goes for books, movies, clothes, anything. It’s not that I don’t trust and value my friend’s opinion, I just want to find out for myself as well. This can be a terrible time suck and I’m working on ways to short-cut the process.

To find out your personality tendency, take this quiz.

Once you know your tendency, it can be easier to make desired changes and create new habits.

I’ll throw out some examples. Every night you tell yourself you’re going to work out in the morning before work. Morning comes, your alarm goes off and you hit snooze. But what if you had a friend waiting for you at the gym? Accountability systems work very well with Obliger personalities. They refuse to disappoint their friend.

Upholders commit to themselves and to others easily, making habits easier to put in place. If they make a plan to exercise each morning then they will, without the need for external accountability.

What habits would you like to form?

Regular exercise? Healthy eating? Getting more rest and relaxation time? Better organization methods? Having closer connections with friends/family?

If we want to be healthy, we have to set-up our lives for health. We have to know ourselves better.

Goals are not sustainable.
Now I want to focus on the difference between habits and goals. Goals have an end marker. Goals begin and end. Say your goal is to lose 20 pounds. Setting a goal weight can be counter-productive if getting there involves restrictive dieting and a grueling exercise schedule. What happens when you achieve your weight goal? Maintaining the minimal diet and intense exercise is not sustainable and the weight will come back.

Now transition your thinking to longterm. Consider what lifestyle changes are necessary for lifelong health. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and taking care of your whole health is a sustainable model. These become lifelong health habits rather than a goal you achieve and forget about a month later.


So how do you make new habits?

1. Take a look at your days, weeks and months. What patterns are currently in place?

2. Take note of the patterns you’d like to change.

3. Make a list of the habits you want to implement.

4. Use your habits personality to recognize what it will take to put a new habit in place.

5. Work towards habits, not goals.


What habit are you working towards? What is your habit personality?

Let me know in the comments below!