A long absence

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Pexels.com

The original iteration of this blog only lasted three weeks.

THREE. WEEKS.

How disappointing!

And for that, I am sorry. 

Well, let me tell you I have been thinking about this blog for years, but have felt…have made all the excuses to not return to the blog.

Me, wanting you

I want to have a conversation with you. I am only a normal, now middle-aged mother living abroad, no expert, but I am always willing to try. I struggle with life. In reality, I struggle with balance in my life. Honestly, with every day, or at least nearly every day, I want to be better than the day before.

Believe me, I understand in 2021, that should not be too difficult. Thanks to our universal experience, standards have universally been lowered to be nearly non-existent. Thanks, 2020. Am I right?!

Along with the conversation I would like to have with you, I also want to tweak my day(s) in an attempt to be better than the day before, if only by a scintilla. I understand life is a dance, and while I am proud of my ‘dance’, I know it could always be improved.

So, here I am again. It has been four years since I last posted. I have missed you, especially this past month. Even more so after I finished reading Gretchen Rubin’s 2015 (!!!) book Better than before. In this book, Rubin outlines her struggles sticking to new habits and, through research, discovers that there are basically four different personality types, which she calls the four tendencies. Her theory, backed up by research, is that once we can understand these tendencies, especially which tendency we are, we can begin to create and stick to habits we want to cultivate. According to Rubin, “The Four Tendencies explain why we act and why we don’t act.”

The Four Tendencies

The four tendencies are upholders, questioners, obligers, and rebels.

  • Upholders are magic unicorns, they don’t seem to struggle with new habits as long as there are rules to follow, that provide structure. However, of the structure of rules is removed, they struggle. They can easily meet outer expectations but struggle with inner ones, which is not to say one is any more important than the other. 19% of those surveyed fall into this category.
  • Questioners, as the name implies, question everything and rely on data to help them stick to new habits. Logic and evidence help them determine their path and can easily push back against what they see as fanciful or ineffectual. 24% of those surveyed are questioners.
  • Obligers are people pleasers. They put everyone ahead of their own needs. These folks need an accountability buddy to help them with their new goals as they, like the upholders, really struggle with inner expectations. Obligers make up 41% of people surveyed – meaning most of society are obligers.
  • Rebels are the type to want to do it until they are told to. They don’t even want to tell themselves what to do. They do what they want! Rebels make up 17% of those surveyed.

After creating a blog, writing in it for (not even) a month over five years ago, can you guess which one I am?

Drum roll…I am an obliger. I discovered this when I took the quiz on Rubin’s website. This is what it told me:

Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations. 
Obligers make terrific colleagues, leaders, family members, and friends.
Others rely on them, but it can be difficult for them to meet their aims for themselves, in the absence of external accountability.
Obligers depend on external accountability, with consequences such as deadlines, late fees, or the fear of letting other people down.

Learning I am an obliger both surprised and irritated me. Yes, part of me said “Duh.” While another part of me said, “Wait just a minute!” However, after learning more, I have rebel leanings, but even more so upholder leanings too. Plus, us obligers tend to partner with rebels.

The return

This brings me back to this blog. I want to complete twelve months of habits, but I depend on external accountability, so I depend on you dear reader…even if there is only one or two of you. Rubin calls this the Strategy of Accountability. Do you feel the power you hold?!

I have wanted to return to writing and reflecting for some time, so this should be the perfect opportunity.
From my original plan in 2015, of the ten monthly habit-forming plans (see below), I still managed to complete six of the ten. I just didn’t end up documenting the progress. I think because I struggled to find my voice at the time. What I was documenting was fun to experience, but for some reason, I wasn’t having fun writing about it. 

Longing for… more

In 2018, I wanted to read more. In reality, though, I struggle to sit down and read a darn book, I have for some time. I also quickly become bored with television and films. My partner has been frustrated with me our whole relationship because I can rarely commit to sitting through a whole film – that’s two whole hours I am forced to be a captive audience member. I have too much to do (in my mind, but also in reality). However, I can absolutely, occasionally sit for two to three hours and binge television show. My argument is that these television shows are an easier commitment, with a run time between twenty and forty minutes, I can choose to stop after each episode or continue for just one more.

Anyway, I digress…back to my 2018 goal to read more. Well, luckily we live in the future, where we have countless apps and other electronic things to make our lives easier. For me, this means audiobooks, formerly books on CD, formerly books on cassette, formerly records. With an Audible membership that I was gifted as a Christmas present because I couldn’t initially buy it for myself and an American library card, I have so many books at my disposal. I friggin’ love it so much. So much so that I had to keep changing my Goodreads reading goal for the year, from 50 originally to 100, to 125, finally ending on 140. However, in the end, I read…okay, audiobooked 145 books. That’s a new book every 2.5 days!

Many of these books ended up being ‘self-help’. In fact, 37 of the 140 had something to do with self-improvement, which really inspired me that year. However, aside from reading nearly all the books that year, I wasn’t doing much else with the information I gleaned from their theoretical pages. Since then I have been thinking about what to do with their information, hence here we are again with this blog.

Here we are now, entertain us

Here we are now, with me wanting to attempt this challenge again, wanting to share this experience with you, being ideally older (sexier, of course) and much, much wiser. My idea is to look back at the books I have read, or audiobooked, in an attempt to complete these goals for 2021 and start with them. I am also not opposed to reading (Yes, of course, I mean audiobooking) new books either. I am still working out the details, but I do have my list of habits and, at least, the first book of inspiration.

The first step is always the hardest, but as Rubin said in Better than before, What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while. 

Have you read Better than Before or taken Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies quiz? What did you like about the book or learn about yourself? If you took her quiz, which tendency are you? Let me know in the comments below.

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