How to Harness The Four Tendencies to Meet Your Personal Health + Wellness Goals

When I first heard Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project, Better than Before, & The Four Tendencies) talk about The Four Tendencies on a few of my favorite podcasts I immediately thought: this makes SO much sense.

If you are anything like me, I am sure you may have started off the year thinking about intentions or perhaps have debated with yourself about whether or not you are going to set resolutions for yourself at all.

I always sit back at this year every year and observe as different types of people express drastically different opinions about the worth of new years resolutions.

Some people LOVE them (like me!), some people hate them, and, generally, it seems that most people seem to have some sort of strong opinion about them.

But perhaps we have been screaming over each other in this face off of the worthiness of goal setting in the form of new years resolutions.

Perhaps different people need different things when it comes to goal setting and accountability and structure.

Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies show us how different people respond to different types of expectations, both internal and external, and how that might relate to one’s abilities to follow through on intentions they make, such as keeping resolutions.

Her framework breaks all of humanity down into four groups – UPHOLDERS, QUESTIONERS, OBLIGERS, and REBELS – and discusses how each of these groups respond a little bit differently to inner expectations (goals one might set for themselves) and outer expectations (expectations other people have for them).


Upon taking the quiz and discovering my tendency as an OBLIGER, I felt like the stars aligned and a lot of tendencies I have observed in my own ability to get things done started to make a lot of sense.

[[ Take the quiz here… Which of the Four Tendencies Are You? ]]

I am a great student. Do well with deadlines. Love having a coach or program to be accountable to, and, though I might procrastinate, I will always get a project done for someone else.

When it comes to promises I make to myself alone? Accountability systems are key. Otherwise, they may never come to fruition.

It also clarified for me why someone like my husband, a QUESTIONER, has very little problem following through on personal goals as long as he feels very clear about why he is doing them.

So, how about you? How do YOU respond to inner and outer expectations?

The more I dove into this book, the more I realized how essential understanding (and leveraging) your knowledge of your tendency can be in ensuring your success in following through with the goals you make for yourself.

Take the quiz here… Which of the Four Tendencies Are You?


Overviews adapted from Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies



  • Self-directed and can meet deadlines
  • Love routine and consistency
  • May struggle with changes of plans and becoming rigid
  • Don’t like to make mistakes
  • High value on follow through



  • Question all expectations and will only meet an expectation if they feel it is justified
  • High value on reason, research, and information
  • They follow the advice of “authorities” only if they trust their expertise
  • The follow their own judgment
  • Hate the arbitrary
  • May have trouble making decisions and moving on from the research phase of deciding on something



  • Place a high value on meeting commitments to others
  • Do well with deadlines, oversight, and accountability
  • Might have trouble saying “no” to others and may get taken advantage of
  • Might become resentful and fall into OBLIGER-REBELLION (who else can relate?!)
  • External accountability is everything



  • Resist both outer and inner expectations
  • Put a high value on freedom, choice, self-expression, and authenticity
  • If you tell them to do something, they will most likely resist
  • May choose to act out of love, a sense of mission, and a belief in a cause
  • May have trouble telling themselves what to do – even if they want to do it
  • Don’t respond well to supervision + schedules + repetitive tasks


As you read through these tendency profiles, it can be easy to see how a one-size-fits-all approach to goal setting and accountability structures might not work.

It also might help you leverage what you need to best support you in fulfilling your goals while having empathy for others who might be more successful with a different approach.
If you are currently working on health + wellness goals, here are some ideas to best utilize your tendency for success.


Key Strategy for Habit Change: Strategy of Scheduling

Upholders do great when they have a plan, a routine, and a schedule! Be sure to create a system or find a plan or framework that will help you execute on your goals. Schedule it in to your day and make it happen! Because upholders can sometimes struggle with upholding for the sake of upholding, be sure that your plan reflects YOUR best interests and the higher interests of your overall lifestyle goals. If need be, build in some flexibility and boundaries into your plan to avoid a “tightening” of the rules you have made for yourself.


Key Strategy for Habit Change: Strategy of Clarity

Clarity and understanding of purpose of WHY you are making the lifestyle changes you are making is immensely important for Questioners. Allow yourself to do the research, understand the “why” and the “how” of the lifestyle changes you are looking to make, and seek out as much information as you can before getting started. Be careful to not stay in research mode forever, though! If you need to, create a “cut off” period for when the research-phase needs to be complete so that you can begin taking action. If you don’t feel clear on why you are doing something, ask for further explanation.


Key Strategy for Habit Change: Strategy of Accountability

Accountability, supervision, and deadlines are everything for Obligers! Finding a person, program, or schedule to be accountable to can greatly increase the ability to follow through. This can even be as simple as a written todo list or a calendar! Be careful not to respect your own personal bandwidth, however, and try not to overpromise and overdeliver to avoid burnout and obliger-rebellion which may happen if you start to feel overwhelmed or under appreciated.


Key Strategy for Habit Change: Strategy of Identity

Finding a way to connect better wellness habits to a sense of identity can be the most effective way to create change for a rebel. For example, “I am the type of person who…” Reverse psychology and using a framework of information – consequence – choice might also be helpful in allowing yourself to make a decision about the lifestyle choices you are making, rather than feeling forced into them.

Curious to learn more about The Four Tendencies? You can get the book here….

Buy On Amazon: The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin

Be sure to share your tendency with me in the comments below or email me at Would love to hear if this framework resonated with you and how you will leverage this information in your own life!

xx jen

Share this post

Enjoying this Post?

Get more content like this straight to your inbox every other week by signing-up for the CBJ Living Newsletter.

You will receive practical and sustainable lifestyle tips, recipes, inspiration, and more to help you on your wellness journey.



Everything to Know about Joining a Local CSA

If you’re here, you are most likely working towards creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself and/or your family. While the options for sourcing food these


CBJ Restaurant + Eating Out Guide

Eating out at restaurants with friends and family can be a true pleasure. It can be so nice to be able to be out and about, enjoy special food and the company of others, and, let’s not lie, it sure is nice to have a break from meal prep, cooking, and doing the dishes! If you’re on a journey to renewed health or fat loss, though, you might feel that social gatherings and eating at restaurants is daunting and be fearful that these meals might ruin your progress. This does not need to be the case!

Leave a Reply