It starts with habits.

Thriving with Deanna / Lifestyle  / It starts with habits.

It starts with habits.

I have a series of blog posts I will be sharing here shortly regarding the tagline you may have noticed on my home page–

Desire + Learn + Trust + Nourish = VIBRANT LIFE


There we will dig much deeper into a discussion about goals. In the meantime, I wanted to discuss those smaller steps we use to achieve broader desires. Have you ever noticed what those smaller increments often consist of? The creation of new habits. Right?! Think about it. It’s things like: complete 3 important tasks related to the larger goal each day; get to bed by 10:30 each night; eat additional servings of veggies each day, etc. Those daily habits then add up over time to create our larger desired outcomes. Creating new habits, by the way, is a great way to edge out older, undesirable habits as well. So rather than focusing on breaking an old habit that is no longer serving us, we can purposely create a new habit that better suits our needs and replaces the previous behaviors.


Sometimes we have to slow things down, do the work, and hang tight for the results to come. The key is to savor the journey along the way!


All of that being said, you’ve probably heard lots of ideas about what it takes to create new habits. The most popular one we hear is that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. Rather, a 2009 study by Phillippa Lally et al. published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found it often takes about 66 days to form a relatively simple habit paired with a consistent cue, but it may range from as few as 18 days all the way to 254 days. Examples of the types of habits the study participants were trying to form were: eating a piece of fruit with lunch, drinking a bottle of water with lunch, and running for 15 minutes before dinner. The study authors concluded that more information would be needed to determine whether more complex habits could be formed in the same time. often takes about 66 days to form a relatively simple habit paired with a consistent cue, but it may range from as few as 18 days all the way to 254 days.


There are several take-aways from this study, but one that stands out to me given my experience working with clients for several years is that having support while creating new habits is likely to be a critical key for most people. When we are talking about a habit potentially taking over 8 months to become automated, we begin to realize the immense importance of having support. Even if it takes just 2 months or less, I’m confident the support would be highly valuable. We live in a fast-paced world with lots of opportunities where we often expect immediate results. When we don’t see them, we are quick to move onto the next best option. We can see here that change TAKES TIME! If we don’t allow the necessary time to create change in our lives, we may be flailing for years to come as we bounce among all the various possibilities out there. Sometimes we have to slow things down, do the work, and hang tight for the results to come. The key is to savor the journey along the way!


Luckily, I know just the person to help us understand more about ourselves and our needs when forming habits. It was a few years ago that I first learned about the work of Gretchen Rubin. She is an author and speaker on the topics of habits, human nature, and happiness. I have been a long-term fan of and subscriber to her podcast, Happier, which she hosts with her sister Elizabeth Craft. Gretchen has spoken and written about a couple of frameworks/categorizations in particular that I find very helpful in better understanding myself, my loved ones, those with whom I interact regularly, and my clients.


The Four Tendencies Framework is one Gretchen created while writing her book, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. This framework helps us to decide how we most often respond to expectations. Gretchen’s framework delineates between the two types of expectations—inner- those we put upon ourselves, and outer- those from other sources. The Four Tendencies which she has identified include: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel. Individuals will fall into one category, but will often have tendencies from one or more of the other categories as well. I am a Questioner, but strongly lean toward the Upholder tendency. In fact, once my questions are answered, I look a lot like an Upholder.



I’m sure you’re wondering how you can learn which Tendency you may be. I’m going to tell you below. Just don’t go quite yet because I don’t want you to miss out on learning about Gretchen’s other classification system I think you’ll find helpful. She has created the titles moderator – those who do better making moderate changes and having “gray area” or “wiggle room”; and abstainers– those who have an easier time when the “rules” are more black and white. I’ll let you learn from her more about what she means by these titles. Just know that you may be a moderator in some areas of your life and an abstainer in others. I find I tend to be more of an abstainer, though.


Knowing which category you fall into in both of these frameworks Gretchen has created can be immensely helpful in learning how to be more successful in habit formation and thus achieving your larger goals! I find learning more about these frameworks for others with whom I will be interacting also helps me to better understand how to best support and interact with them.


Okay, I won’t hold you back any longer! Take Gretchen’s Four Tendencies Quiz and check out her blog archives on this topic as well. Then be sure to take her moderator or abstainer quiz too. 


PLEASE come back and tell us into which categories you fall! I seriously find this stuff so interesting! Tell us how your categorizations also make perfect sense for what you know about yourself! I think you’ll be blown away by how helpful this will be for you!  Also, don’t forget to check out the services I offer if you are seeking support for creating change in your life.

Deanna Wilcox


  • Kathy
    May 6, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    I’m an Obliger… surprise, surprise…

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