We all have that thing. You know the one. The thing you need to do, you want to do, the back of the brain nagging voice with a to do list that remains unfinished. The big project you want to start or the list of background chores that keeps on growing.
It’s the voice in your head that quietly or sometimes loudly, reminds you of the promise you made to yourself to get things done.
For me as a “doer”, the one who gets everything done for everyone else, whilst my own nest of desires remained mostly unfulfilled. The voice of “there’s not enough time” or “I’m too tired at the end of the day” became a broken record that I needed to dissolve.
But why? When I can produce mountains of work for others, but not often for myself. I needed to understand why.
I love to write and when other tasks take up space I have for time at my desk, it’s the first thing that goes. Yet, it’s the thing I love most.
I was listening to a podcast the other day and the fabulous Gretchen Rubin was featured. I’ve read Better than Before and The Happiness Project which I will write about too, but there is a gem of a book called The Four Tendencies by Gretchen, which smacked me in the face with the reason why I think like I do and possibly you do too. The simple question was “ How do you respond to expectations?”
There are four tendencies and we all fit into one Gretchen contends.
Once I understood my nature, I’m an Obliger, sounds bad but actually isn’t! We get shit done… just that it’s generally not our own!
We are incredibly reliable on getting things done for others, a lifetime of patterning lay before me as the big Aha moment set in. I will meet outer expectations and resist inner expectations. In essence, accountability is my friend. Timelines, deadlines and the calendar hold me to task along with other people’s needs. If you need something done, I’m your girl, but I will delay my own stuff to get yours done first. Bosses love us, friends can rely on us and our kids have never been more well fed.
The trap for obligers is that we have a tendency to leave our priorities at the back of the bus whilst we do all the things others rely on us for and then we are too knackered to do them. We often burn out and we often don’t delegate well. We do things because we can. If you ever hear the “Big No” from an obliger, you will know that they have met their limit.
My own family has a mix of all the tendencies and when you see it, you can’t unseen it. In everyone!
Josh is an Upholder, who holds himself to inner and external expectations. Tom in the middle is a Rebel, which is surprising but not when you understand his motivation. His motto is “You do you, I will do me” pretty much sums it up. Sam is the Questioner and he resists external expectations but meets his inner expectations and I’ve realised that he will take his own sweet time doing things, which drives me crazy.
Now, though I understand them better and it serves me in my work environment too. Look around and see how people tick. We aren’t all motivated with the same wiring and it makes your life better and those around you too. We all share the tendency to be autonomous. We all like to find our own way.
We Obligers are the biggest group of the tendencies, 41% in all, and it’s interesting to understand why we act and why we don’t. We don’t act when things are hard without accountability.
For all of us who are Obligers here are the keys to overcome procrastination and no longer bringing up the rear with our own needs.
- Time block time for yourself BEFORE you block in time for all the other craziness of life
- Know thy enemy- what’s irritatingly still on the list and consider why it’s still there. Is it too hard, or is it too boring. (More on that next week)
- Learning to say no more often so that we can get our own priorities done
- Deadlines- build a deadline in to get the task done BEFORE an appointment. Works like a charm
- And the big one. Find accountability, whether it’s an app, a partner or the knowledge that someone is waiting on you.
Developing personal systems for accountability are key for us. It’s not a character flaw, it’s how we are wired.We are the one’s that others ask for help.
If you too are an Obliger, fear not! We are the doer’s of the world, just make sure that there is time in your life for you too!