How to set goals to minimise stress and maximise success.

Jan 15, 2019

Most of us have goals and projects – expectations of things we feel we should achieve - but we experience stress and anxiety around achieving them in different ways.  

Do you leave them until the last minute when that jolt of panic stress kicks in – because we all work better under pressure right?! 

Are you more likely to do something if it’s a goal set or shared with someone else?

Meeting expectations in the modern world is one of the most common topics that come up with clients (and friends) when we talk about what causes them to stress.

“The Four Tendencies” – by Gretchen Rubin

The Four Tendencies explores how we respond to expectations under four personality types – Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel - and how to utilize the characteristics and strengths in these different response situations to actually get things done.

 How can you set yourself up for success based on your expectation tendency? 

It’s not about labeling what type you are… it’s about recognizing how you react to expectations and setting yourself up to minimise disruptive behaviours.  It will also minimize those goal-reaching stresses.

  • Upholders meet expectations set by themselves and others. Upholders love rules, Upholders meet inner and outer expectations. They love rules, they like to have a clear plan and show discipline and self-motivation. Given a clear description of what needs to be done and they will tend to lead the way.
  • Questioners meet their own expectations but resist ones set by others. Without clear purpose and a good reason to do something, they will push back. Making it clear why what you want from them is important will help counter this tendency to question.
  • Obligers meet other peoples’ expectations easily but struggle to meet their own. Sense of duty can be a big driver. Accountability to a friend, boss, coach, etc will support getting things done and they tend to work well in a team. Most people are obligers (including me). Interestingly, 65% of Obligers report feeling frustration from putting other people’s needs ahead of their own, but when it comes to actually fight this habit they will often self-sabotage rather than prioritise their needs. (I am an obliger … in case you were curious!)
  • Rebels, as the name suggests, resist both outer and inner expectations. Freedom to choose and express their own individuality is paramount for rebels, so setting tasks up as a challenge they can choose to do (or not) works well.

There is a very quick online quiz here that will give you a summary of your main tendency and suggestions for dealing with these traits. 

If you do project work, lead a team or are a partner or parent, being mindful of how other people process expectations will improve communication and support in getting things done.  It is so much easier to motivate people when you know what they respond to!

Do you recognise yourself in any of these tendencies?  Will you set your next goals using this framework?


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