How Our Tendency Helps Us Meet Our Goals

Do you ever wonder why you’re having trouble reaching a specific goal you’ve set? Sometimes the answer doesn’t have anything to do with us. It’s much more about the people around us and how they interact with our goals. How does your tendency affect the way you accomplish your goals?Do you ever wonder why your having trouble reaching a specific goal you’ve set? Sometimes the answer doesn’t have anything to do with us. It’s much more about the people around us and how they interact with our goals. How does your tendency affect the way you accomplish your goals?

Having great cheerleaders can mean we have someone to pick us up no matter how hard things get. Not having the right cheerleaders can mean we quit on day 5 because no one was holding us accountable. How the people around you interact with your goals is a big deal! But, how you feel about accountability partners, public declarations, and everything in between is determined by your tendency.

Gretchen Rubin Research

Gretchen Rubin is one of my favorite authors. According to her website, she “experiments in the pursuit of happiness and good habits.” In addition to “The Happiness Project”, she has developed a framework called The 4 Tendencies.

Gretchen explains that by asking the one simple question, “How do I respond to expectations?” we gain explosive self-knowledge. We all face both outer expectations (meet work deadlines, answer a request from a friend) and inner expectations (keep a New Year’s resolution, start meditating). Our response to expectations determines whether we’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel.

Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so using this framework helps us to make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress, and engage more effectively with other people.

In addition, knowing our tendency matters when it comes to the important people in your life and accomplishing your great goals. Our tendency explains what people we need as our cheerleaders when it comes to achieving our goals.

You can take Gretchen’s quiz right here to figure out what your tendency is: Tendencies Quiz. It only takes about 15 minutes and will give you a lot of insight into how to best reach our goals.

The 4 Tendencies


Upholders meet both inner and outer expectations. What this means is that if they set a new resolution or goal, they can easily keep it. In addition, they can easily meet the goals that others set for them. (This is ME and explains why I usually meet my goals with seemingly little effort.)

This whole goal-achieving thing tends to be pretty easy for upholders. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t need cheerleaders on the sidelines. Share your goals with the people that matter most to you and tell them why it’s so important to you. It’s important that we don’t become too goal-centric and cast the important people in our lives to the wayside.


Obligers meet outer expectations but not inner expectations. What this means is that obligers have trouble with the resolutions and goals they make for themselves, but they can easily meet the expectations of others.

If you are an obliger, you absolutely MUST work accountability into your goals. You need the outer expectation in order to get where you want to be. So, find someone to hold you accountable to whatever goal you set. The best accountability partner is someone who’s working on a similar goal, so you can help each other out. Set clear parameters for this accountability buddy. How often, and in what way, will you hold each other accountable?


Questioners question everything and only meet expectations that make sense to them. They meet inner expectations but not outer expectations.

As a questioner, it is very easy to get caught in analysis paralysis. Give yourself some time in the beginning to do some research and confirm to yourself why your goal is important. And then, GET MOVING. Make sure you create a detailed task list to reach your goal that has due dates for each little step to keep you on track.


Rebels resist all expectations, both inner and outer. Some people think this means that rebels can’t do anything, but to the contrary, a rebel can do anything THEY want to do.

Goal achieving for rebels can be a bit tricky. They don’t like habits so they need to find ways to shake things up and own their goals. Rebels are usually less likely to achieve a goal with an accountability partner so don’t use one unless you feel it really fits your individual needs. Remind yourself why you’re working hard on your goal and affirm that you DO want to work towards your goals. Rebels also love a challenge so it’s a good thing for them to stretch their goals and then announce them publicly.

Final Thoughts

Knowing which one of the 4 tendencies is just another tool you can put in your goal achieving arsenal. Find other goal achieving tips in these articles:

Goal Achievers Series: Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, and Step 4

Goal Setting With a Chronic Illness

Setting Up Your Planner & a Peek Into My Planning Process

Did you take the quiz? Let me know what tendency you are and how you’re using that knowledge to reach your goals. Comment below or email me at


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I’m amazed. I took the quiz and came out as an Upholder. That really surprised me as I’m not one to have written goals – though I do have goals that I follow through on regularly. I’ve been impressed with the printouts you’ve sent Janet – enough so that I finally decided to download the TODOIST app to the computer and iPhone and watched the videos from Gary Pullein? on how to set it up. Now to find it on the computer and put it to use.
    I’m still waffling on the website and trying to figure out what I want to do. Took Lesley’s course on launching and asked about an idea I had and got an amazingly positive response so have that to work on. I’m enjoying your videos and really have to get going on them. Thanks for all your inspiration and encouragement.

    1. That’s great Nana. Upholder doesn’t necessarily mean that we write our goals down but rather that we use both internal and external expectations to help us reach our goals. I’m glad to hear you are trying TODOIST. I used it for quite awhile a few years ago. Today, I use Asana. I really love it for the ability to have my blog, product development, editorial calendar, personal and household items all on one list but to be able to break them out when I need to, and it’s FREE for both the PC and phone.
      You would really love Lesley’s Launch With Purpose if you can afford to take it. It helped me more than any other course I’ve taken to get things set up and running well on my website.
      I look forward to talking with you again soon.