What type of habit-former are you?

It's that time of year where you're making resolutions and promising yourself this year WILL be different, you'll make changes... but, says best-selling author Gretchen Rubin, before you can change anything it's crucial to discover what drives your behaviour


What type of habit-former are you?

Forty per cent of our behaviour is repeated almost daily, says Gretchen Rubin, author of Better Than Before, Mastering The Habits Of Our Everyday Lives (Two Roads, £16.99). ‘Habits are the invisible architecture of our lives,’ she says. ‘It’s crucial to discover what drives our behaviour.

There are four types of habit-former:

An upholder: ‘I do what others expect of me and what I expect from myself.’

A questioner: ‘I do what I think is best. If it doesn’t make sense, I won’t do it.’

An obliger: ‘I do what I have to. I hate to let others down, but I let myself down.’

A rebel: ‘I do what I want. If you tell me to do something, I’m less likely to do it.’

If you’re…

  • an upholder, try scheduling. Set a specific regular time for your habitual activity, then repeat it. Habits tend to grow when they are repeated in predictable ways.
  • a questioner, get clarity. The clearer you are about what you value and what you expect from yourself, the more likely you are to stick to habits.
  • an obliger, tell people your goals and make yourself accountable.
  • a rebel, challenge what you tell yourself. Switch ‘I’m lazy’ to ‘if I say I’ll show up, I’ll show up’.

How can we ensure the right habits stick?

  • Make it easy to commit to your good habits, and inconvenient to continue the bad ones.
  • Create the right foundations. Sleep, exercise, diet and organisation are the Foundation Four. If you are getting enough sleep, eating the right food, feeling more energetic by exercising and getting yourself organised, all other habits will flow from this.
  • Keep good company. Others influence our habits, so spending time with healthy people makes it easier to stick to good habits.

Photograph: Corbis