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Using Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies to Meet Writing Goals
Last weekend I was blessed to speak at Maumee Valley Romance Writers, Inc. Every January we have our annual goals discussion. The first half of my talk was about basic goal-setting: taking time to think about professional, health, emotional and personal goals for the year and deciding how and when to achieve them.
During the second half I shared how we can use Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies to meet our writing goals.
We had a frank discussion, and I was thrilled to learn we had writers ranging in all four tendencies. I was surprised to learn some of the solutions I thought would work for one type clearly wouldn’t. And I loved hearing these writers share what would work for them.
If you’re not familiar with Gretchen Rubin’s new book The Four Tendencies, you can read about it HERE. Basically, Ms. Rubin studies human nature (she’s the author of several New York Times best-selling books, including The Happiness Project), and she divides people into four groups according to how they respond to expectations.
- Upholders meet inner and outer expectations readily.
- Questioners meet inner expectations easier than they do outer ones.
- Obligers meet outer expectations more readily than inner ones.
- Rebels struggle against both inner and outer expectations.
In other words, Upholders tend to get things done that are important to them personally as well as what others expect them to do.
Questioners tend to get things done that make sense to them. If someone expects them to do something they don’t agree with or see the value in, it won’t get done.
Obligers tend to get things done when someone is depending on them. They find it difficult to meet personal goals.
Rebels want to do things in their way and in their time. Standard advice for meeting goals does not work for this tendency!
*If you’re not sure what tendency you fit in, take the QUIZ (linked). It’s short and sweet.*
Here’s what I loved about having this discussion with fellow writers.
Upholders are planner geeks, and we (yes, I’m an Upholder!) love time management tools. We can be rigid and too-rule-follow-y, but we get things done and that’s good. Setting daily/weekly/monthly writing goals works for Upholders.
Questioners who struggle to meet their writing goals need to keep asking questions about the goal until an answer clicks in that makes sense to them. For example: I’m going to write for one hour every weekday morning before work. You might then ask, why the morning? and you’d remember your nighttime routine is exhausting. But what if I wrote right after dinner? But you already decided to walk on the treadmill at that time. Face it, my creative energy is gone by 8pm.
At that point, you see the value in dedicating an hour in the morning. But you might have to keep questioning why writing every weekday is important until you get to your gold.
Obligers don’t want to let people down. If you fall into this category, you might put off writing until a hard deadline looms. Sure, you know you need to write or you’ll struggle to finish the book, but you struggle to feel the urgency. In this case, an accountability partner or group can make a difference. If you decide to physically meet someone at the library or a coffee shop to write for two hours, you’re much more likely to actually write at that time then if you marked those hours on your calendar to write at home.
As far as the Rebels out there, I urge you to throw out all the “expert” advice about planning and goal setting and do your own thing. Experiment. Get creative. And keep trying new methods of getting and keeping your butt in the chair until you find what works!
I’d love to hear how you find success in meeting your writing goals! Please leave a comment!
Have a terrific day!
This Post Has 3 Comments
I was going back through your blog and found this one. I am very surprised to find what a questioner is. I thought it was a good thing until I read the description. It’s so true!! Thank you for this!
Being a questioner IS a good thing–you just need to know how to harness it to work for you. And guess what? Having a critique partner to exchange pages with on a regular basis will work in your favor!
Thanks for that encouragement! Now I need to go buy a harness…lol.