The Four Motivation Types And How They Affect Your Habits

The Four Motivation Types And How They Affect Your Habits

To form a new habit, it helps to know what makes you tick — specifically, what drives you to get stuff done. Author Gretchen Rubin says most people fall into one of four motivation types. Knowing yours is key to taking on new habits.

Picture: Matthias Ripp/Flickr

To find your motivation type, think about how you react to deadlines and expectations. Rubin explains:

In researching and writing Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, I realised that all of us differ dramatically in our attitude towards habits, and our aptitude for forming them. From my observation, I began to realise that just about everyone falls into one of four distinct groups: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels.

Upholders are expectation-driven and feel an inner commitment to follow through with deadlines. Questioners are motivated by reason and need to fully understand the expectation and feel it’s justified. Obligers are people pleasers; they will do stuff for everyone else but not for themselves. Rebels resist expectations and work toward goals based on their own guidelines.

Basically, your group is based on how you respond to an expectation. After all, that’s what a new habit is: a new expectation we make for ourselves. When you understand how you respond, you can work with your own tendencies and find the best way to take on the habit.

Most people have a general idea of which category describes them. If you don’t, Rubin’s quiz, below, can help you figure it out. Plus, it offers advice on what you can do to form a habit, based on your type.

For example, I had a hunch I was an Obliger, and the quiz confirmed it. It gave more insight on how I work, plus a simple bit of advice:

For Obligers, the key to forming habits is to create external accountability.

So if I want to start exercising more, it might help to find a running buddy. Knowing that someone expects me to meet them each week appeals to my motivation type. I feel obligated to make our running dates, so I’ll exercise more.

Rubin has some additional insight on each category worth checking out. Take the quiz, then read the full post at the other link below.

Gretchen Rubin’s Quiz: The Four Tendencies [Survey Gizmo via HBR]

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