Gretchen Rubin

Do You Make New Year’s Resolutions? What Your Answer Reveals

Do You Make New Year’s Resolutions? What Your Answer Reveals

I've been thinking a lot about New Year's resolutions for the past few days -- and I've been thinking about my "Four Tendencies" framework for the past few years.

And I've noticed certain patterns about what members of the different Tendencies say about New Year's resolutions.

This pattern isn't clear enough to be a dispositive test of a person's Tendency, but it is interesting to note how often people of the same Tendency say similar things.

To re-cap about my Four Tendencies framework: For my book about habits, Better Than Before, I propose the "Four Tendencies," which describe how people tend to respond to expectations (warning, this sounds a bit dry, but stay with me, it's very interesting):

--outer expectations (a deadline, a “request” from a sweetheart) and

--inner expectations (write a novel in your free time, keep a New Year’s resolution).

Your response to expectations may sound obscure, but it turns out to be very, very important.

In a nutshell:

  • Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations (I’m an Upholder, 100%)
  • Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense (my husband is a Questioner)
  • Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike

If you’d like to see me discuss each category in  a video, you can watch: for Upholders, watch here; Questioners, here;  Rebels, here, and Obligers, here.

Want to figure out your Tendency? Click here.

When it comes to New Year's resolutions...

Upholders often enjoy making New Year's resolutions, though they may also make resolutions during other times of the year. When they do make a resolution, they tend to do a good job of sticking to it.

Questioners often make resolutions, but they won't wait until January 1 to start them.  They consider January 1 an arbitrary date, so think it's foolish to use it as a starting point; they'd just start right away. Once they make up their mind to keep a resolution, they have good success.

Obligers have often given up making resolutions. If they've made resolutions in the past, they've often failed to keep them, so they don't want to make new ones.  (If you're an Obliger who wants to make a New Year's resolution for 2015, remember: you must create a system of external accountability if you want to stick to it. Crucial.)

Rebels won't make New Year's resolutions. They'd never bind themselves in that way.

How about you? Do you make resolutions on January 1, or at any time, or never?

I'm an Upholder, all the way, and I will say that although I like the idea of New Year's resolutions, I usually don't wait until January 1 to try something. I just go ahead, because I'm eager to try something new.

Of course, given my approach to my subject matter of habits and happiness, this is somewhat of an occupational necessity.  Or, more likely, I've been using my writing to give me a great justification to do all the things I wanted to do, anyway.

As I told a friend, as we drove across the Brooklyn Bridge to go to the shop of a rogue perfumer, "This field trip counts as a billable hour for me." Don't think that I ever take that for granted. I don't.

I do end up making lots of resolutions.

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