• Francesca Brinkworth

Book Review: Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Did you know:


Up to 40% of our behaviours are made up of repeated habits? Gretchen Rubin's book 'Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives' is such an eye opener into our behaviours, what motivates us and highlights how you will find it easier to learn a new habit or skill in one way instead of another.


I've shared how this book has helped me to change some of my habits and behaviours, from saving money to improving my health.


Gretchen's book 'Better Than Before' is a must-read for anyone who is serious about changing their life. Read on to dive in...



The Four Tendencies


You're probably wondering (if you haven't read the book yet) what are 'The Four Tendencies'?! Don't think about this as being placed in a pigeon hole but instead, it's learning more about yourself. It explains how you respond to inner and outer expectations.


When I read the book, I was surprised to find out that I am an Obliger. I think a little part of me knew it was the truth but I didn't want to admit it at first! Here are my quiz results:



Take the quiz and see which of The Four Tendencies you are.


Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations.

1. Money


We all have different approaches to habits with our money, while some decide to be more frugal and save, others splash out and spend.


I used to be the latter before I read this book. I realised that it was my bad habits that were making me spend more money than I should. I saved £250 a month on take-away coffee just by changing the route I took when I walked to work every morning. Crazy isn't it?


It wasn't easy at first, nothing is when you're changing a long-term habit. But I was able to save enough money for my first car, which made those extra steps and less caffeine 100% worth it!


2. Exercise


When I got my first car I felt like I had achieved a big milestone! It's such a great feeling when you have more freedom in your own vehicle. However, I didn't realise that this was going to present a new challenge for me!


Before I was driving, my co-worker used to drop me from work into town, where I could catch the bus home. My gym that I attended was also in the centre of town. It was convenient for me (notice the word convenient) to go to the gym for an hour whilst I waited for my bus home.


But now I had a car, I could go from work to home with no trouble at all. I had no need to go into town anymore because I had a direct route home. Motivating myself to drive into town, find a parking space, pay for parking!, get ready for the gym, shower, walk back to the car and then drive home, just didn't sound very motivating.


So I signed myself up for a few classes each week and asked the trainer at the gym to message me on the day, to ask if I was attending. Obligers hate letting other people down. I needed that external accountability and now I really enjoy going because I have that extra support.


3. Sleep


You can't beat a good nights sleep. I was used to staying up late and forcing myself to get up early for work the next day. (Sound familiar?) Over time I realised that my health was suffering from lack of sleep but in my head, there was just too much to get done before I could think about sleeping!


Cue the Obliger thought process: with little sleep, I wasn't going to be performing at the top of my game. It would negatively impact my work, relationships, social life and I wouldn't be much help to anyone.


So I downloaded the Headspace app, so I could track my sleep and set a bedtime for myself. All other devices had to be turned off/put on silent at this time. I wanted the satisfaction of seeing my progress and it was rewarding to feel better for having more rest.


Note: I also found it useful to write down things that were on my mind before I went to bed so that I didn't have to focus on them anymore and I could relax more easily.



So how do my results help me now?


As Maya Angelou said "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." Once you know which tendency you are (or maybe you find you're a cross between two?) you start to better understand your thought processes and behaviours towards habits.


For example, a popular habit people like to do is schedule their day before it begins. Sounds simple enough, but for some, it's enough to make them not want to do anything on that schedule!


I personally tried this habit, to schedule my day down to the last hour so I could work productively and get all the things I wanted to do done. And making sure I made time for myself, family, friends etc. you get the idea, work/life balance.


BUT


Scheduling, as it turns out, was not my ideal way of sticking to habits. I found that it added pressure to get things done. If I overran or didn't get everything on my schedule done, I felt like I had failed.


So rather than sticking a time next to everything on my schedule, I just prioritised and streamlined my schedule. Funnily enough, I actually got more done scheduling less than I did when I fully booked my day!


Like I said at the beginning, everyone is different. That is why Gretchen's book is so refreshing because she accommodates every individual and you can use her advice and methods to work for you. It's trial and error in the beginning, but at least you know where to start!



This book is part of a series and once you've read this book, I would recommend reading 'The Four Tendencies' which explains more about each tendency, Upholder, Questioner, Obliger and Rebel in more detail.


I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback about Gretchen Rubin's book series and if it has helped you to make changes in your life. Comment below or send me an email, let's connect!


You can purchase the book here.


To learn more about the author and further written works by Gretchen, you can visit her website: https://gretchenrubin.com/

 

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