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Four Tendencies, The Obliger With Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin joins Jillian to explain the Four Tendencies, and to discuss, specifically, the issues the obliger faces.

The Four Tendencies look at how you respond to expectations. In our lives, we face both inner and outer expectations. Outer expectations are the ones from friends, family, or work, while our inner expectations include things like our new year's resolutions, our dreams, and our goals.

How you respond to these inner and outer expectations determines whether you’re an upholder, a questioner, an obliger, or a rebel.

  • Upholder: The upholders quickly meet both the inner and outer expectations and deadlines. They care about what other people expect from them, but their personal inner expectations are just important.
  • Questioners: Questioners often question outer expectations, and they’ll meet outer expectations only if it makes sense to them. They filter through the things that are unrealistic or unjustified, and they base their expectations on their inner expectations. If you convince them why they’ll comply.
  • Obligers: The Obligers are great at meeting outer expectations, but they often struggle to meet inner expectations. They must have outside accountability, as opposed to being driven by inner accountability.
  • Rebels: Finally, Rebels are the ones who resist both inner and outer expectations. They want to do what they want their own way and in their own time. However, they also love to be challenged.

Out of these four tendencies, the Obliger often carries the most guilt and shame. In society, we’re often taught that we shouldn't rely on outer accountability; rather, we should look within ourselves and set our goals, boundaries, and expectations ourselves instead of relying on other people. As a result, obligers often feel weak.

Obligers should realize that it’s okay to get outside accountability. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with them. That’s how they perform best, and there's no shame in that at all.

“There’s a million ways to get outer accountability. That’s what you need; that’s what works; that’s the quick, easy solution.”

Some of the most successful people in the world are Obligers, and in reality, there’s a lot of strength that comes with it. In addition, out of all the tendencies, the limitations of the Obliger is the easiest one to hack and work through!

“The drawback and the limitations of the other tendencies are much more abstract. They’re harder to wrap your mind around, or spot, whereas the obliger…the fix is right there and obvious.”

Recognizing that having outer accountability is good and okay means that other people can be invited in to help hold you accountable.

Gretchin’s first tip for obligers is to always have outside accountability. Sometimes Obligers will have conflicting expectations. For example of choosing between saying no to your family or your boss. The Obliger needs to realize that in this case, someone's expectation isn't going to be met and that saying yes to one means saying no to the other.

In these situations, you must go back to your values. What is more important? Work or family?

“You’ve got to counterbalance, and you can use your values to counterbalance so that you can bring that to bear.”

The truth about life and goals is that there’s no magic, one size fits all, way of accomplishing things, and meeting both inner and outer expectations. Everyone is different, and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. If something isn’t working for you, it doesn’t mean it’s your fault. It just means it might not be set up to accommodate you.

It's all about finding what works best for you.

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