I’m a creature of habit

by | Jan 20, 2020 | Faith, Family, Writing and Reading | 12 comments |

This morning, as usual, I consulted my checklist for the day. Faith, Self-Care, Family, Mission. It’s Martin Luther King Day. No mail, no problem. No walk to the mailbox, self-care problem.

When was the last time I walked? I looked at my calendar. Ten days ago.

How could that be? I walk several times a week. That’s what I tell myself and others: walking is a habit.

Something was wrong.


RubinBookAccording to author Gretchen Rubin, in her book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, people have different tendencies with regard to habits and expectations. I tend to be an Upholder, a rule-follower who likes to meet both outer and inner expectations. The three other tendencies are: Questioner (resists outer, meets inner), Obliger (meets outer, resists inner), and Rebel (resists both outer and inner expectations).

Of course, the tendencies overlap; I question, oblige, and rebel, too. As such, I’m not a big fan of best-selling, self-help books. But as a rule-follower, I tend to take good advice.

Upholders are, as Rubin wrote, “…self-directed and have little trouble meeting commitments, keeping resolutions, or meeting deadlines… They want to understand the rules…” But, she continues, “Upholders may struggle in situations where expectations aren’t clear or the rules aren’t established.”

There was my problem. Other than my daily weight warmup and stretching, I hadn’t established a regular, aerobic strategy for no-mail days or those with commitments away from home.

I needed better strategies.


To address foundational habit areas, such as sleeping, exercising, and eating, Rubin recommended monitoring, scheduling, and accountability. It’s easy to monitor my walk-to-the-mailbox days and hold myself accountable. And pairing walking with another to-do on my checklist is a good idea, since I don’t enjoy walking for walking’s sake.

Know thyself.

WoodpileJan2020So, for today, an at-home, no-mail day, I’ve scheduled two, walk-replacement pairings: help Keith move firewood into the garage and clean debris from the pipe at the bottom of the ravine. As my readers know, ditch-cleaning is never ending here on the mountain and especially important after rain. And I love being active and productive, meeting both inner and outer expectations at the same time.

Because I’m a creature of habit.


Click to take the quiz. Are you an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel? Please reply in comments.


This post on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUihQ59cmc8&feature=youtu.be


  1. Ms D.

    I enjoyed this! I’m about half and half questioner and rule follower.

  2. Gary Fultz

    Well Carole, I am an Obliger, I do however set goals for myself that will over ride others expectations of me. It probably explains why I have never set good habits for blogging.

  3. ekurie

    Obliger. Very disappointing!

    • Carole Duff

      Why are you disappointed? Obligers are lovely people, I think.

  4. Sue Love

    I am kind of where you are in that. I can’t walk out in the cold weather because I have something called “cold urticaria,” so I try to avoid cold as much as I can. So, that leaves driving someplace to walk or going to our community gym. But, I don’t want to walk on a treadmill. I want to “walk,” because I actually enjoy walking. We did have some warmer days recently, but it rained on those days. So, we try to get out and walk at the YMCA or at the Mall, but it is just so much easier if I can just walk out my door and walk outside, which I can’t do now. But, I don’t have to let that keep me from walking, but we (my husband and I) have failed to establish a routine, as you said. And, we do have other things taking up our time, too, but we do need to discipline ourselves to do that. So, I am in your boat with you. I just have to make a plan and then execute the plan and keep at it. I enjoyed reading what you wrote here. 🙂

    • Carole Duff

      Good luck with your plan, and let me know how it goes. -C.D.

  5. Catherine Lanser

    Upholder here too. Thanks for this. I haven’t seen her book before.

    • Carole Duff

      A Christmas gift from my son… perhaps he thinks I need improvements:-)

  6. bigskybuckeye

    Carole, I took the test. From the results, I am an Obliger. I think I am more between Upholder and Obliger. As for my winter exercise, I have been doing more indoor biking than walking. We have experienced more cold winds than usual, and the rain continues to keep me inside.

    • Carole Duff

      Oh, I wish I enjoyed indoor biking but don’t, even if paired with something else. So, I’m grateful to live in a year-round, friendly-weather place. And, by the way, Obligers are lovely, kind people. Thanks for your comment!


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