Gretchen Rubin
Source: Gretchen Rubin

After my book Better Than Before hit the shelves, I was surprised by how many Rebels contacted me to request more information about how to harness their Tendency.

As I was writing Better Than Before, I’d assumed that (a) Rebels wouldn’t want to read a book about habits, and that (b) Rebels weren’t interested in trying to foster habits.

Well, I was wrong! Many Rebels are very interested in learning how to harness the tremendous strengths of both habits and of the Rebel Tendency to help themselves become happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative.

The Rebel section of The Four Tendencies is actually one of the longest sections because there’s so much to say, and so much to try that can work well for Rebels. I include dozens of examples, including many from Rebels themselves.

One general challenge, however, is that many strategies that work well for other Tendencies—such as the Strategies of Accountability, Monitoring, or Scheduling—don’t work well for most Rebels. And some popular strategies—such as the Strategies of Convenience, Other People, and Reward—must be carefully adapted for the Rebel perspective.

If you are a Rebel, or you’re working with a Rebel, it’s a huge help to recognize that fact! You will have far greater success if you approach the situation in a Rebel-specific way.

In a nutshell: Rebels resist all expectations, both inner and outer alike. They want to do what they want to do, in their own way, in their own time—and if you ask or tell them to do something, they’re very likely to resist.

Watch this short video to learn more about the Rebel Tendency

Habit Strategies that Work Best for Rebels:

In Better Than Before, I describe the 21 strategies we can use to make or break our habits. Twenty-one is a lot, but that’s good—some of the strategies work well for some people, but not for others. This is especially true for Rebels. Key strategies for Rebels include:

Strategy of Identity (most important for Rebels)

For Rebels, the most effective habit-change strategy is the Strategy of Identity. Because Rebels place great value on being true to themselves, they can embrace a habit if they view it as a way to express their identity. “I quit sugar because I respect my body. I want to give myself energy and good health by eating only healthy foods.”

Strategy of Clarity

The Strategy of Clarity works for Rebels because it focuses on why a habit might have personal value for them. The more Rebels think about what they want, and why they want it, the more effectively they pursue it. “I am going to attend this optional seminar about Photoshop because I’m a creative, curious person who loves to learn about new tools and methods. This class is giving me the knowledge I crave.”

Strategy of Convenience

Instead of trying to commit to scheduling a habit, Rebels often do habit-behaviors as soon as they feel like it. “What a gorgeous day! I feel like going for a run.”

Strategy of Other People

The Strategy of Other People is also a useful strategy for Rebels to consider; Rebels love doing things differently from other people. They do an obscure kind of yoga, run barefoot, exercise late at night. One Rebel wrote to tell me how much she loved being a female bodybuilder.

Note: Rebels tend to resist if you ask or tell them to do anything. It’s very important—but challenging—to avoid setting off their spirit of resistance.

Also, many of the 21 strategies that work well for other Tendencies typically don’t work for Rebels: for instance, Strategies of Scheduling, Accountability, Monitoring, or Rewards.

Looking for strategies for Upholders, Questioners, and Obligers? Click here.

Rebels may also enjoy this interview on the “Happier” podcast, where Elizabeth and I talked to the brilliant Chris Guillebeau, who is also a Rebel.

Chris is the host of the terrific podcast “Side Hustle School,” which aims to help people start side hustles to give themselves more freedom, career choice, and outlets for expression of their interests and talents. Freedom, choice, doing things your own way…do those values sound familiar? Rebel! Though lots of people who aren’t Rebels love side hustles, too, of course.

Also ...

Gretchen Rubin
Source: Gretchen Rubin

To thank readers who pre-order The Four Tendencies, I worked with a great production team to create a 5-part videos series. Together, these five videos provide a great overview of how to apply the framework: the first video explains the framework, and four subject videos explain how to apply the Four Tendencies at work, in a relationship, with a child or student, and in health-care. Click here for details about how to access this pre-order bonus.

About the Author

Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project and Better than Before, New York Times bestseller that explains how to form good habits and break bad ones. 

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