Gardener, know thyself
There is no single path to success in establishing any new habit, including gardening. Everyone is different and a good habit won’t stick for long unless you take into account your own motivation, energy levels and preferences. You really have to know yourself in order to successfully start a habit and keep it going.
This is part three in a series about establishing a Gardening Habit. You might like to start with part 1.
In Better than Before, Gretchen Rubin offers a framework for thinking about how individuals tend to respond to expectations. Obligers respond best when someone else is expecting them to do something but struggle to meet inner expectations. Upholders are motivated both by external and internal expectations. Questioners will meet an expectation only if it makes sense to them. And Rebels resist all expectations, both outer and inner. Knowing our own Tendency really helps to design our habits effectively.
I took this quiz and found out that I am a Questioner*, which surprised me at the time but made perfect sense to my friends! It's true that if an expectation doesn’t make sense to me, its very difficult to persuade me to meet it. I'll easily abandon even my own internal expectations if they no longer seem justified. The upside of being a Questioner is that when I am satisfied there is a good reason for action, I need no other motivation. The downside is that I can be quite non-conformist and even anti-social, especially in the intersection of being an Introvert and a Questioner.
Knowing that I am a Questioner allowed me to take the time to clarify why I needed a Gardening Habit and what it would involve. Even though my garden is a source of pleasure and sustenance, it's not the most compelling interest in my life. I needed a clearly articulated justification to motivate myself to break out of my gardening inertia and get on with the garden chores.
I think it’s pretty typical for a Questioner to need the why and the what to be articulated from the beginning. Someone leaning towards one of the other Four Tendencies might start with the how, who or the when rather than the why. Let me know in the comments what motivates you to get in the garden on a regular basis? Are you motivated by wanting the neighbours to see a tidy yard? Do you only garden when you feel like it? Are you more likely to garden if your family or friends are outside working or playing alongside you?
But just knowing how I tend to respond to expectations wasn't all the self-knowledge I needed for my Gardening Habit to work. I also drew on Better than Before's discussion of distinctions- the little things that differentiate us from other people. I'll talk about some of my distinctive character traits in the next post in this series.
If you find the Four Tendencies framework as useful and interesting as I do, you might like to get Better, an app where Questioners, Obligers, Upholders and Rebels can enjoy getting geeky about the Tendencies. Its fun and its free so Come and say hi to me there.
* I think its important to keep in mind that Rubin's Four Tendencies are tendencies to help with self-knowledge rather than categories for stereotyping people. For that reason, on this blog I'll identify myself a Questioner, but write about other people having (rather than being) one of the Four Tendencies. Its the same framework, just different perspectives depending on whether I am looking inwards or outwards.