I first learned about Gretchen Rubin after randomly picking up her book titled The Happiness Project several years ago (check out my review of that book here and a summary of my very own happiness project here). I immediately became a fan and when her latest book, Better Than Before, came out I quickly ordered it and read it cover to cover (which says something for me because while I love self-help books, I tend to not finish them since often all the good stuff is in the first half of the book and things start getting a little repetitive towards the end).
Since I will be starting a blog series on my efforts to develop several good habits (and quit a couple of bad ones) and will be using a lot of the learnings from Better Than Before, I thought it would be worthwhile to put together a review of the book for easy reference. This will also provide a bit of an overview of the two key takeaways of the book that I will be referencing in the series – I feel like these nuggets are transformative and will be the difference between me sticking to my goals throughout the year.
What is it about?
Better Than Before is a book about habits. How to start them, how to keep them and how to break the bad ones. As with The Happiness Project, Rubin uses the art of story telling to impart quite a bit of knowledge and information on how habits impact our lives, strategies for how to stick to good habits and how to let go of the not-so-great habits that aren’t serving us well.
There are two key takeaways from this book that I think are just phenomenal.
One is the concept of understanding yourself and your tendency as it relates to meeting expectations. Once I realized that I am an Obliger (meaning that I easily meet other people’s expectations but struggle to meet personal goals and expectations that I set for myself), I immediately recognized why I have had such a hard time reaching some of the personal goals I’ve had for myself over the years. Duh!
Self-Knowledge – The Four Tendencies
- Upholder – Meets out and inner expectations
- Obliger – Meets outer expectations; resists inner expectations
- Questioner – Resists outer expectations; meets inner expectations
- Rebel – Resists outer and inner expectation
The other big takeaway from Better Than Before was the concept of implementing specific strategies to increase my chances for success in sticking to a good habit. Rubin covers 21 strategies in the book but below are a few of my favorites (based on the fact that I am an Obliger – others may work better for you).
- Self-knowledge – that’s right, taking the time to get clear on what makes you tick is an important piece of setting yourself up for success!
- Foundation – developing good habits in those areas that have the most impact on happiness (such as, health, fitness, faith, relationships etc.)
- Accountability – this key for me and other fellow Obligers…I am more likely to get things done when others are watching or depending on me (so I am thinking about starting a local accountability group – yay!)
- Abstaining – I have recently come to terms with the fact that I am addicted to sugar and I have also come to terms with the fact that I struggle with the concept of just having a little or just having some every now and then; thus, I am much more likely to stick to a habit of no sugar than just a little sugar or sugar only on the weekends
- Clarity – getting clear on exactly what’s important and what I want to accomplish
Buy This Book (or borrow from the library)!
In case you can’t tell, I really like this book. I highly recommend reading it, taking notes and then reading it again.
We repeat about 40 percent of our behavior almost daily, so our habits shape our existence and our future. If we change our habits, we change our lives.
– Gretchen Rubin