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Dream of being someone who does what they say they will?

calendar with coffee cup

You know the ones. They glide through life, saying they are going to do things and then doing them. Meeting deadlines. Committing to things with zero effort.

Meanwhile, you’re looking at your own to-do list that’s longer than a long thing and even looking at it means you’re only just breathing. You know what you need to do and it’s not getting done.
On one level I could say, ‘who cares? We’re all different!’. Except I did care. I used it against me.  I made it mean I wasn’t good enough. Why was it easy for THEM?
So I made a LOT of strategies. Dig deeper, work harder, make more lists and systems. Because THIS ONE would get me on track surely!  Hours of puzzling to understand why there were always things that I really wanted do to and still didn’t er, DO them.
Until, I cracked the code…
I’m excited to share it with you because if you’re like me, it’s going to be a game changer. When I came across it, it felt like everything slotted into place. I had clarity and easy steps that led to success.
It came from a book. I say this with a heavy heart. When Danielle says, ‘The answer is always in a book’ I give her this look…

This time, it was in a  book.

It’s called The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. It’s about what leads people into action.

I found myself in the biggest of the four groups.
Obligers.
The moment I read the title I knew it had my name all over it.
See if this resonates with you:
  • You love to give, serve and help.
  • If anyone wants help, you’re right there.  Even if you’re busy and often if you don’t want to.
  • You work long hours – you always have a lot on and your lists are legendary for their length and complexity.
  • Time is a real nemesis for you – there’s never enough of it.  There’s so much to do.  So many people who want and need you.
  • You wake up every morning with a mental checklist thinking, ‘What do I have to do today?’.  So much of what you HAVE to do isn’t for you.  You’re looking out for others.  Hey, you’re good at it and they NEED you.
  • You have so many intentions, goals, resolutions.  This is THE year for working less, loving more and nailing that self-care routine.
  • You’re constantly tired.  Whenever you have a space, you fill it.

Familiar?

Here’s how Gretchen explains it.

If we think about the world, there are external expectations and inner ones.

External expectations are those that others ask for from you.  Internal are the things you ask of yourself.

Obligers (like me) find it easier to meet external expectations. It’s so innate we don’t even know we’re doing it. Yes, we like to do it (most of the time). More importantly, it’s unconscious.  Even when we know it’s hurting us, we struggle to stop it. Because, won’t we let someone down?

Hmm. While we are so busy meeting everyone else’s needs, who’s meeting ours?Almost certainly no-one.

Another one of our tendencies, is to not ask for help.

Or receive it. We can cope. If only we could just find more time. Or commitment. Or magic juice. We’d surely be able to.

Because we SHOUD be able to.

Ah. Should, must, have to.

All of them have anxiety, obligation and often shame wrapped around them.

The Crazy Lady goads us incessantly about how inadequate we are. Let’s add “find inner resilience and energy” to the to do list. (Don’t bother.  I have actually done this…like it was an actual task…).

It’s a vicious circle.

If I can just make sure that everyone else is ok, then I’ll be able to look after my own exhausted self.

WHAT IF IT WAS EASY?

What if all you needed was a structure that created EXTERNAL accountability?  Since that’s what you love anyway!

Here are 10 Easy ways to success for Obligers:

1. Find a John (accountability partner).

OK, so they’re not all called John. Mine is when it comes to exercise. He trains with me. Checks out I’m doing what I said I would. And I do it, because it’s IMPORTANT TO HIM THAT I DO.

The key is your accountability partner needs to be reliable AND it needs to matter to you that you meet their needs (this shouldn’t be too hard, you like to meet everyone’s needs). When you say you’re going to get something done, they are the ones you text or call to say you’ve done it.

2.  Tie THEM into your success.

Obligers let themselves down all the time. It’s INTERNAL expectations we don’t meet. The key is flipping it – making it EXTERNAL. I turn up, because I know John has got up early to go running with me.  It wouldn’t be fair to let him down.  Oh no, I couldn’t do that.

Exactly.

Or here’s another, if I’m late with writing my blog, I affect two other people – Danielle and Gail, our brilliant VA.  They have things to do to it after I’ve written it.  That’s what gets me going. I need it to matter to OTHER people.

Get it?

3. Find someone who’s wants to achieve it too.

Someone who also wants to complete that course, lose weight, start running. Be in it TOGETHER.

Make this simple.

Want to start running and don’t live near anyone local? Agree each morning you’ll text each other when you’re going out and the result when you’re back. A virtual running buddy will work just as well.

4. Set goals with a reward for someone ELSE. 

Have someone else benefit from your commitment. Promise your Mum you’ll take them to the Spa once you’ve met your goal. Every day you work on it, put £2 in a tin. Watching the money grow is a way of keeping you to your word.  You really want to treat her and this way, doing YOUR thing feels good. Their excitement about it will keep you on track too.

5. Enrol a cheerleader. 

Sometimes is feels hard to go it alone. You can easily lose your initial enthusiasm. Having someone reminding you what you HAVEN’T done can move some Obligers to flip to REBEL… (another of the tendencies, more coming on that…. ).

It might be your person is someone who praises you, encourages from the side lines. A bad cop sometimes works better for me. It depends. (Danielle gives me the look and I’m ON IT!)

YOU know what you need.

6. Join a community. 

I recently joined on online accountability group.  We don’t speak, we post our daily scores against our commitment and our reflections. Watching your progress is really fulfilling and you feel like you’re in it together, keeping an eye out for each other. No sign in, no points even if you did do the work. There’s a leader board too. Nothing like that to keep you focussed.

7.  Keep it simple.

Obligers’ intentions are often future based. Tomorrow I will…. They are often grand. I’m going to de-clutter the whole house. Read 12 books by Christmas. Going big is admirable and often leads to failure, because guess what? Someone will come along and test that inner commitment you made.

Make it easy. Go small. Tiny steps that make it possible to keep going. Focus on consistency.

Meditate for 10 minutes every day. No matter what. Or even start at 5. Avoid overwhelm. You’re done with that daft dance.

8. Money might work…

If I sign up and pay for the course, surely I’ll do it? Surprisingly money isn’t always a major motivator for obligers, unless you’re directly paying for accountability (a coach). Someone else offering to pay for you can work though – you feel “obliged” to give them a return on their investment. Or at least say what you did with their money.

Ask for gifts that get you doing the things you want to do but can’t quite get started.

9. Book things in your calendar that YOU can’t cancel.

I recently block 6 months of treatments. It did it to ensure they were in the diary and paid for, making it harder to cancel.  Now I book things around them. I can cancel of course, but I won’t get my money back or another slot.  Make it easier to do it than not do it.

10. Focus on the benefit to others. 
Obligers have a sticky relationship with the word selfish, believing if they put themselves first, others lose out. That there’s a way to do it all they just have to discover it . Simply not true. Obligers meet outer expectations. They don’t meet inner. That’s a big difference.
Pretending it’s about time is what creates the angst. It’s not. You just won’t do it on your own. Find a new way.

Example: I’m learning to meditate because it will make me a calmer, more balanced, fun Mum is far more likely to have you sign up. You’re doing it for others.

It’s important you hear this.

Resisting being an Obliger is a waste of time and energy.

Now I love the strength of Obligers and I know others love what I bring because I am one. The secret is to harness it and use it with wisdom.

One watch for is that Obligers can be and feel exploited.

Let’s face it, we love to help so if a job needs doing who is most likely to be asked AND say yes? We are!
We often say yes when we’re screaming no inside. This can create resentment. Particularly when no-one’s even noticed!
In those instances, often after a long build-up of annoyance, the Obliger-Rebel kicks in. All of a sudden the yes becomes a firm NO! Resentment can flare and family and friends stand back wondering “what happened to her?”
We expected others to know what was reasonable even though we weren’t helping ourselves!  Having people around us to keep us from doing daft things like thinking we CAN DO IT ALL really helps.

It was a wonderful moment. Realising there’s nothing wrong with me.

I’m wired a certain way and knowing that, making some tweaks, everything changed. Suddenly, I was doing everything I really wanted to be doing. Magic.
What a feeling when you just know you’re doing your best and it’s delivering RESULTS! I’m happier, calmer, nicer because I feel good about myself. I know I can RELY on myself.

I’ve proven time and time again I can do a brilliant job of looking after others. I now know I can also look after me.

Of course, there are 3 other tendencies;

Upholders, Rebels and Questioners. When you find out about them, I’ve got a feeling many things will fall into place.

Why not take the quiz and find out?  Who knows what you might uncover?

Loving you,
Nic

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