'Better Than Before' cover

About the Book
Title: Better Than Before
Author: Gretchen Rubin
Length: 320 pages (hardcover)
Publisher: Crown
Copyright Year: 2015

Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before is a book about habits. It examines why people can struggle to build good habits or easily fall into the trap of bad habits. Through self-examination and research, the author presents important observations on why people find some habits easier to adopt than others, and strategies to take advantage of your personal traits to improve your chances.

First, Rubin introduces what she refers to as the “four tendencies.” These tendencies form the basis for which strategies work best for different kinds of people, based on each person’s attitude toward expectations. When faced with inner expectations (those we impose on ourselves) or outer expectations (those imposed or measured by others), everyone can be grouped into one of the four tendencies. Upholders tend to meet both inner and outer expectations. Questioners resist outer expectations and uphold inner expectations once they’ve internalized a reason to do something. Obligers uphold outer expectations and commitments to others and resist inner expectations. Rebels tend to resist both kinds of expectations and want to feel free to make their own choices as much as possible.

The author presents us with evidence that most people fall into the obliger category, meaning that most people find it easier to live up to an expectation when it is imposed or measured in some way by someone else. For example, they’ll never miss a work deadline (outer expectation), but will procrastinate a personal project (inner expectation).

This relates to habits and strategies for building and keeping good habits by identifying which group you tend to fall into. For example, the strategy of scheduling is putting a habit into a daily plan. Upholders and questioners are likely to benefit most from ...

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