Welcome to the next article of the miniseries on how to stick to your New Year’s resolutions, how to change your habits and, in short, how to force yourself to do things that you’ve always wanted.
The truth is that people are divided into 4 groups and each group needs a different approach. Today we’ll take a look at tips on how to change your habits if you belong to the Upholder group.
This group is much smaller than the previous two groups we discussed – Obliger and Questioner. In terms of creating new habits, the Upholders are the happiest of us. They can adhere well to deadlines, love rules and stick to their resolutions. However, there are some pitfalls waiting for them as well.
If you are not sure whether you belong to this group, take an original test by the author who writes about all the groups in her book The Four Tendencies.
What is Upholder like?
Upholders are characterized by the fact that they easily meet both internal and external expectations. They do not want to disappoint others, but nor themselves.
As a result, they have no problem meeting the expectations of others, but at the same time, they will always find time and strength to meet their own goals.
They prefer to follow clear rules, like to follow a schedule and have their routine they don’t want to break.
When they wake up in the morning, they ask, “What’s on the schedule/plan today?“
What is their weakness?
People in this group are often considered rigid. They have a big problem with flexibility if the situation requires it. Also, they tend to stick to the rules at all costs.
They tend to be perfectionists, which may be a plus in some cases, but in others, it can cause them a lot of trouble.
The disadvantage of trying to please everyone around them, including themselves, is that they sometimes take on too much. This may eventually result in burnout or frustration.
How to change habits as an Upholder?
The good news is that Upholders usually have no problem keeping their own resolutions or creating new habits.
But they should unlearn to say “yes” to everyone and everything. Clarify your priorities and devote your time and energy only to those things that are really important to you.
As one wise saying says, “One can do everything but not all at once.”
If something is not within your priorities, learn how to delegate a task or remove it entirely from your task list.
Tactics for Upholder
Gretchen Rubin in her book Better Than Before offers 21 tactics to change your habits.
Every person is different and needs a different approach. Most of these tactics will be usable for Upholder because they stick to them really easily. However, four of these tactics are specifically useful for Upholders.
Strategy of Scheduling
This strategy is the most important of all Upholder strategies.
Whatever they write on the schedule, they will stick to it. They love to go through item by item and check off completed tasks.
The big advantage of the schedule is also that it is clear whether it is possible to finish everything timewise. If you’re an Upholder, creating a schedule will help you prioritize all the tasks and people you want to take the time for. And what doesn’t fit in the schedule, you simply won’t do. Do not forget to plan the necessary breaks and rest time.
Strategy of Clarity
It often happens that on the one hand, we want to do something and on the other hand, we don’t. Perhaps such a diet. Yes, we want to be thin, but at the same time, we don’t want to give up pizza and ice cream.
Sometimes we want two things that are contradictory. E.g. devote maximum time to family while devoting maximum time to work.
Therefore, we need to be clear about what we actually want. And we need to be clear on two things: priorities and activities.
Being clear about my priorities determines what decisions I make. Suppose I want to lose 10 pounds, but I also want to eat pizza every night. I have to decide what is more important to me at this point of my life.
The second step is to be clear about the activities. That will help me be prepared and know how to behave. If I know that every night I come home hungry, where there is nothing to eat and I end up ordering pizza, it is necessary to clarify in advance how I will behave.
Will I buy food in advance and put it on the freezer? Or will I eat before coming home? Will I stop by the restaurant and have a salad? If I keep on a diet, how do I behave if someone invites me to dinner? If I go to the cinema, how do I behave when a friend asks me if I want popcorn?
The prepared person will not be taken aback by these situations and is more likely to make a decision to support his or her resolution or goal.
Strategy of Monitoring
This strategy is effective for all groups except the Rebels. The point is to first monitor your activity before you change your habits.
I used this strategy to increase my average number of steps. I bought a smartwatch and started to monitor how many steps I take every day.
Experts recommend taking at least 10,000 steps a day to keep a person healthy in the long term. They set an absolute minimum of 6,000 steps a day to prevent cardiovascular problems, to which up to 50% of people die in the whole world.
When I found out that I took about 4,500 to 5,000 steps a day on average in the whole year, I was quite shocked. I’ve decided that I must definitely change this.
Every day I started to think about where I could walk instead of using my car. I started to walk for coffee and to the office, to the doctors, and sometimes to smaller purchases. When there was no place to go, I took a short walk.
Thanks to this tactic, I raised my average number of steps to 8,000. And I hope to get even better the next year, but hey, baby steps. 😉
How to properly use the monitoring strategy
This strategy is particularly useful for areas such as food, drink, exercise, TV and internet use, spending, etc. If you want to do less or more of something, first just monitor this activity. Maybe when you find out how many hours you spend watching TV every day, you realize that you want to watch it much less.
Whatever activity you choose, you need to monitor it accurately. If you’re just guessing, you are very likely to make a wrong estimation. If you want to change your diet, monitor for a while what you eat accurately and write it down into an app that calculates your calories. Write down your sports activity to see how many calories you really burn.
Today, you can get the mobile app for almost everything – monitoring your diet, the number of steps, sleep, length of use of social networks, etc. Just search through the Internet.
Strategy of Pairing
The principle behind this strategy is to combine two activities – one you want to do and the other you want to make your new habit.
For example, allow yourself to watch your favorite shows only when you exercise. Or allow reading a magazine or book only if you are on a treadmill.
It is not a punishment, nor a reward, but simply a combination of more pleasant and less pleasant activity in one.
What else can you combine? Listen to podcasts on your way to work, or tell yourself affirmations while sitting in your car. If you want a sweet treat, walk to the store.
Bonus Strategy of Fresh Beginnings
This tactic is not mentioned directly in Better Than Before, but it is a tactic that works well for Upholder. People in this group are especially inspired to create new habits in two specific cases:
- on a “significant day” – it can be the well known New Year (January 1), or maybe a birthday, anniversary, anything that has a meaning for the person,
- at the beginning of a “new era” or stage of life – wedding, breakup, right after moving, starting a new work, project, business, etc.
If you are interested in other tactics, check all the articles in this miniseries, maybe one of them will suit you the best and you will get inspired to create a new habit.
I wish everyone had it as simple as Upholders. Rebels, on the other hand, are struggling to create new habits. However, there are well-established tactics for them as well. And we will talk about them next time.
Summary: how to change your habits when you are an Upholder?
- Make a schedule
- Clarify what and how will you do it
- Monitor your activity
- Pair two activities together (pleasant and less pleasant)
- Take advantage of new beginnings