Better than Before: The Best Surprise

Gretchen Rubin has been a huge inspiration in my life. So much so that she was the force behind my first book, The Sunny Side Up. If you’ve heard me speak before, you know how important her message about happiness was to me (and continues to be) so naturally, when a wonderful mentor of mine, Dallas Woodburn, gave me a SIGNED copy of Rubin’s latest book, Better than Before, I just about couldn’t see straight. Dallas’ gift was so unexpected and thoughtful—the fact that she would mail me an autographed copy from a woman who has meant so much to me was beyond generous.

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So I immediately started reading.

Of course Rubin’s book doesn’t disappoint thus far. I love that she has focused on the habits of happiness. More than this though, I think habits shape our goals and I see this being applicable not only for my own personal life but for so many of my clients. Week after week, I see many of my clients struggling to enact the goals that they create for themselves…leaving me to wonder—why exactly is that? Rubin is starting to answer some of those questions and I can’t wait to share these findings with my clients.

Rubin describes the Four Tendencies when it comes to habit forming. There are Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. By understanding how we are hard wired with habit formation, we can begin to approach tasks in an entirely new way. Upholders are the lucky ones—they set and work towards goals with a tireless pursuit. Questioners are willing to work if they can understand the logic behind it. Obligers (this is me) are adept at pleasing and meeting everyone else’s demands but forego their own desires in the process. And rebels—well, they are their own boss. If they want it, they’ll do it. But the second anyone tells them to try this or that—all bets are off. Noted.

So all this reading has led me to writing down a few of my own habits that I want to work on developing. Here they are:

  1. Respond to emails on a daily basis: I want to start carving out time each day to tackle my inbox so that it doesn’t overwhelm me after a week’s time.
  2. Read 20 pages of a book each day: I’d like to go back and forth between fiction and non-fiction. If I can dedicate as much time as I do to the TV, then I can definitely take some time out to read.
  3. Exercise three times a week: I just don’t love the gym. I keep hoping that I will but I don’t see it happening any time soon. Still, if I can exercise three times a week for 30 minutes at a time, I think it will be a step in the right direction.
  4. Text back: I have a bad habit where I don’t always immediately text back. That turns into a few days. Awk. I want to not only text back but initiate conversations and make time with friends at least once a week.
  5. Spend less: A little retail therapy has ultimately been a hindrance to helping me save up for bigger financial goals (buying a new laptop, a new (used) car, and money for tuition). As much as I love Lilly Pulitzer, I want to stow away my savings right now.

Don’t even ask me to tackle sugar right now. Not ready for that one yet. One goal at a time here…and chocolate is definitely not on the list yet. Maybe sometime soon though once I get to the end of Rubin’s book.

As you read through this, what habits are you hoping to develop? Be kind as you start with small goals…no need to overwhelm yourself and shut down the process entirely. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

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