Thursday, March 3, 2016

But A Little More About Me

I recently finished reading Gretchen Rubin's Better Than Before, about how we form habits (and why we would want to).

I'm not sure I have necessarily cultivated any great habits since reading it (wait, that's not true--I've started wearing my retainer again at night #bringingsexyback), but one thing I really liked about it was the way the author offers a sort of personality quiz as she discusses the different tendencies and personality types, and how they affect the way you form habits.

I've written before about the four tendencies. I'm a Questioner, for sure, and David is an Upholder. After I read the book, we talked about the other categories and we were laughing at how opposite we are--hopefully in a complementary and not contrasting way!

In addition to the four tendencies (Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel), here are some of the categories she mentions:

Lark or Owl?

I'm more of an owl. It's not like I'm staying up super late late, but if I'm going to tackle an extra project--whether it's one more load of laundry or reading a chapter of a book or finishing grading papers, whatever--I'm more likely to try to squeeze it in at night before I go to bed than first thing in the morning. The idea of getting out of bed an hour earlier to have an hour to read/write/yoga/run sounds terrible to me. (David, on the other hand, gets out of bed super early so he can exercise before he goes to work.)

Marathoner, Sprinter, or Procrastinator?

One thing I liked about Rubin's book is that she points out that none of these tendencies is right/wrong or better/worse, but that if you become aware of which category fits you, then you can adjust your approach to habit-formation accordingly. This was a good example, because it seems like we're always told that a marathon-approach is the best way to tackle any project--plod along doing a little bit at a time (ie. write your dissertation in fifteen minutes a day!). The fact is that this method does work, but I actually think I'm more of a sprinter. I always tell myself I'll grade a certain number of essays or exams a day, but I am more productive when I set aside a bigger block of time and whip through as many as I can. I got over my procrastinator tendencies in graduate school, but if given the option, I'd rather dedicate myself to a project and get it done in one big chunk than spread it out over time.

Underbuyer or Overbuyer?

I'm an overbuyer, for sure. It's important to note that this doesn't mean spendthrift. I can stick to a budget, but I feel happier when the pantry is fully stocked with more than we need. If I'm picking up something like deodorant or shaving cream or trashbags or hand soap, I'd rather buy two and store than extra than run out and not have any on hand. Buying the big ass thing of toilet paper at Sam's Club makes me feel like I can breathe easy. (That is perhaps the weirdest sentence I've ever written.)

Simplicity-lover or Abudance-lover?

This probably relates to my overbuyer status, because I'm also an abundance lover. I love bookshelves overflowing with books. I love tufted furniture. I love fluffy duvet covers. I love gallery walls with lots of frames, gothic architecture, 800-page novels, and puffy wedding dresses. When it comes to most things in life--books, shoes, photos, seasonal decor--more is more, baby! (This explains the weird sense of sadness, confusion, and inadequacy I felt when reading Marie Kondo's book. Why would anyone feel happy by getting rid of the things that make them happy? Oh, because not everyone is happy surrounded by a bunch of things. But I am! Know thyself and then be yourself. (I should add that I admire minimalist decor, clean modern lines, and slinky wedding gowns--I've just come to realize that it's not my style.)

Finisher or Opener?

Oh, man. Here's one where I wish I were a finisher, but I am totally an opener. Starting a new bottle of shampoo or opening a brand new notebook = happiness for me. Squeezing out the last farts of lotion, or crimping the end of the toothpaste tube = the worst. This is how I end up with a bathroom cabinet full of lotion bottles with a dab left in the bottom and stacks of notebooks that are 3/4 of the way full of notes...

Familiarity lover or Novelty lover?

I kind of wish I were more adventurous, but the fact is that in a city full of awesome coffee shops, I return loyally to the one (awesome) coffee shop (shout out to Hartford!). I'm the kind of person who could eat the exact same thing for lunch every day of the week (in fact, in third grade, I did exactly that #peanutbutterandjellyftw). I'm more likely to suggest we go back to a restaurant I know I like than check out somewhere new. So this is a tendency that I do try to resist sometimes, because I think a little novelty keeps things interesting!

Abstainer or Moderator?

I'm more of a moderator. I can abstain from things, but after doing a spending freeze a couple of times, I found that it kind of makes me anxious. I do better sticking to a strict budget than doing no spending whatsoever. I have no problem having just one bite of dessert, or one glass of wine. (Although Caramel Delights a.k.a. Samoa Girl Scout Cookies are so delicious that I might have just eaten an entire row of them.)

It probably speaks to a remarkable level of narcissism that I'm fascinated by this kind of self-knowledge, but I'm also curious about you guys--anyone out there line up with me? Are you and your partner samesies or an opposites-attract kind of situation?


  1. I think I'm an owl, sprinter, underbuyer, simplicity lover, finisher, familiarity lover (maybe?), and moderator. I think Mark is an owl and a sprinter, but maybe completely opposite from me in every other regard!

  2. I'd have to read more on the upholder, questioner, etc. first.

    My gut would say: owl, marathoner, neutral (I honestly take the most pride in having the right amount of things, no more, no less. I assess and purge and organize on a daily basis and I refuse to buy anything in bulk. But I also feel like I'm prepared for most anything, so I don't think I underbuy. So I'm saying neutral.), simplicity lover, finisher, novelty lover, moderator.

    I'm going to guess that my husband is more like me than unlike me on these categories.

    I thought Kondo's book was strange on many levels, but I didn't mean for it to make you sad! I actually subscribe to most of what she says, I just think it's a weird read. I like full bookshelves for sure, and lots of them. But outside of our Christmas tree, you'd be hard pressed to find a piece of seasonal decor in my house, and places that sell stuff like that give me hives. ;) I can totally appreciate the cuteness in other people's homes though! Thank goodness we're not all alike.

  3. I'm for sure an overbuyer, sprinter, opener, and abstainer - I can and do buy things like a bag (or six - overbuy!) of peanut M&Ms just bc I like knowing they're there... I may not eat them for weeks.

    But the rest... I think I'm a lark at heart, but different things over the years have owlized me. And I'm working on taking back my mornings. I've always been into abundance, and surrounded by nonsense, but my current longing for simplicity is making me think that I've lived that way bc I was raised that way, and it's time to.. Take my shelves back? But there's abundance and then there's mess - I'm really only now beginning to realize the key differences, lol. And in terms of the familiar vs novel - I think I'm into novelty, but my limited time to, say, go to a coffee shop or restaurant has me choosing the well known and loved so that I'm more certain to enjoy my all too rare lunch or evening out.

    Regardless, you've got me curious enough to go looking for the book!

  4. Interesting! I think I am more like you mostly. Definitely night owl. Familiarity. I am on my phone and don't remember them all.

  5. Oh and I am an opener but I gave away a huge box of half used lotions and shampoos and stuff. You would be shocked by how many responses I got for it, I ended up giving it to a lady who was taking them with her for missions in Haiti. It felt pretty amazing to get rid of them all. But generally I am bad about hoarding things.

  6. Oh my goodness! My mom is such an overbuyer, that it makes me want to be an underbuyer. I do overbuy when something I love is crazy cheap (like Mrs. Meyers Soaps) or my local grocery store is going out of business (yep, happened!), but typically I prefer an empty-ish fridge and pantry so I will actually use what I have and creatively concoct meals from what is fresh and in supply. I don't meal plan and just buy what looks fresh and inexpensive in the produce section and plan entire meals out of a handful of tomatoes.

    Having excess bottles of shampoo and toothpaste is actually making me crazy and I cannot wait to use it all so I can have just one in backup supply.

    Finisher. So much that I will be super thrifty and cut open the container to get the last remaining drops. I just hate waste and also cannot handle multiple bottles open at a time. I almost never throw away a product (like deodorant I don't like) and just suck it up and use it until it's over.

  7. I think I'm the exact same as you actually! Though when you said you ate an entire row of Carmel Delights as if it was a lot I scoffed. Please. Come back to me when you've finished off a box. By yourself.

  8. This is fascinating because I'm realizing that Greg and I, like you and David, are opposites in a lot of ways even though I think we have much in common. I am a lark even though I spent years working until 1 a.m. at newspapers, proof that I really, really like journalism. Also a marathoner.

    I'm an underbuyer because I'm a simplicity lover. I like visiting homes crammed with books and art, but living that way stresses me out. I grew up in a very cluttered house, so I tend to go too far in the opposite direction. Even most of my favorite books are on the short side and have very clean prose. Opener. Novelty lover, though I hate change. I want a stable, predictable life that is spiced up with travel and trying new things. And a moderator.

  9. I line up with all of yours except Familiarity lover or Novelty lover. Though, I feel like I'm a little in the middle. I love trying new restaurants, but as far as coffee shops, I'd stick to the same ones. I'm sort-of torn on this one. Apparently we are quite alike and therefore would probably not get along IRL. :)

  10. I have a serious obsession with Gretchen Rubin and her books and podcasts. I feel like we are long-lost soul makes (in a platonic way) :) I'm an upholder through and through. I think my husband is a questioner, so opposites for sure.