Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

April was a killer month for me – I’m pretty sure that I was sick for at least three solid weeks of it and I completely fell out of most of my habits. Today is May 1st and I just finished this wonderful books on habits, so I’m thinking about how to find a nice new rhythm for my goals this year.

Better than Before is Gretchen Rubin’s follow-up to her successful Happiness series. I believe this is where Rubin first introduces her Four Tendency theories, which she expands upon in greater detail in a later book. But she uses the Four Tendencies throughout this book to help the reader find strategies to implement the habits they deem important.

This might be surprising but I’m a Rebel, which means that I cannot follow through the second that something is expected of me. I’m a horrible book club member because I can’t read the book once it’s picked. I’m a horrible daughter and daughter-in-law because I know how people want me to react to things, but it all seems so superficial and boring. I really wish I wasn’t this way, but I am. And after reading this book, I can see why it’s so hard for me to follow through on new habits. If I schedule something, I just ignore the schedule. Deadlines don’t work. Telling someone that I’m going to do something doesn’t help. What seems to work best is making a big list of things that I need to get done and then doing them on my own terms. I have to feel like it’s my own idea and being done my own way or it will never be done.

One of the strategies for rebels that struck me was to make something a part of your identity and I think that’s so true for me. I go back to my goal for the year: Stay in the moment, write a few words every day, read a few words every day. I identify as a reader, so it’s been easy to stick to the reading goal. But I’m much more hesitant to identify as a writer and it’s been much harder to write a few words every day. If I’m going to be able to write a few words every day, then I can’t be so bashful about my need and desire to write, even if I’m not writing well.

So here’s my effort to make writing part of my identity: I am a writer. My brain percolates and gurgles and comes up with half-formed theories that don’t always make it to the screen or to a piece of paper, but I’m a much happier person when I find the time to sort through those thoughts with words. My family notices the difference in me when I take the time to write. Even I notice the difference in myself. Writing is good for me and if I’m going to stick with it, then I need to believe that I am a writer.

I’m also going back to only tracking a few simple things in my bullet journal – I got pretty optimistic in April and then totally stopped tracking by April 7. I know that monitoring my progress is helpful and I feel confined when I track everything, so I’ll only track my typical household chores, reading, morning pages, and writing. Back to the basics!

How about you? How was your April? Have you read this book? Are you trying to implement any new habits? What works for you?


7 thoughts on “Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

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  1. I love this post and understand everything you’re saying! I’m also a rebel and it’s annoying how I constantly undermine myself ALL THE TIME. But I like that if you own the identity, it’s not something to rebel against, it’s just who you are. So here’s to being writers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right – the framework is really helpful! My husband is a questioner. I explained The Four Tendencies to him and now we’re always talking about our tendencies, ha!

      Did you read her book on the Four Tendencies?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My husband is a Questioner too! It’s helped me understand him and be more patient knowing his tendency.

        I did read that… I listened to the audio book on our library’s Libby system. It’s terrific! She really dives deep into the Four Tendencies. And you could skip the parts you weren’t interested in if you wanted. I do recommend it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks! I thought that I’d seen you’d read it and enjoyed it. I think I’m finally coming around on Gretchen Rubin — I really want to read Outer Order, Inner Calm too.


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