FYI, this review of Better Than Before is not sponsored but does contain affiliate links.
I have good intentions. I really do. I want to have a clutter-free house that is always sparkly clean, a minimal but stylish wardrobe, an exercise regimen that keeps me fit and happy, and a daily schedule that keeps my family organized, on time, and happy. But I don’t. I don’t have any of those things. The bathroom counters and mirrors are (quite frankly) a little horrifying, my shoes are spilling out of the closet, I virtually never exercise, and while I am good at being places on time, I’m terrible at maintaining any kind of routine at home. Nap schedule? What even is that?
When I look at what I wish I were doing and what I actually do, it can go one of two ways. Either I feel discouraged that I’m failing to live up to this imaginary ideal, or I get even more apathetic because, despite my perceived failures, my family is thriving, so what’s the point of trying harder?
So when I read Better Than Before last year and felt not discouraged, not apathetic, but inspired and motivated and legitimately excited about making some changes? Well, to be honest, I wanted to send Gretchen Rubin like fifteen dozen cookies and a bundt cake to thank her for writing this book. (I’d send a thank you card, but I’m terrible at correspondence, and we all know that food is my love language anyway.)
I’ve mentioned a couple times how much I enjoyed this book. One of the biggest reasons? This is the first thing I’ve ever read that didn’t tell me to just wake up earlier to exercise and clean and write and do everything else I want to get done.
Not only that, but it told me it’s perfectly acceptable that I have ZERO desire to wake up any earlier than I have to!
Can I just tell you how liberating that is? SO VERY.
Acknowledging that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all way of changing behavior, Rubin breaks things down by what she calls “the four tendencies.” What works for an Upholder might completely backfire for a Rebel. Questioners and Obligers require different motivations to achieve the same goals. Most “achieve your dreams!” advice is geared toward Upholders–who happily do what is expected of them, whether those expectations are internal or external–so it’s no wonder I cringe at said advice. Knowing I should work out and actually doing it are very different things for me. I am NOT an Upholder.
I quickly determined I’m mostly an Obliger–with some Rebel leanings and a hint of Questioner–and very nearly cried when I realized that was okay. Knowing that I can be a better person without constantly fighting my natural tendencies felt like a massive breakthrough. I’m more of a night owl than a morning person. I’m an opener, not a finisher. I’m an overbuyer who loves both abundance and simplicity. Most of this wasn’t necessarily new self-knowledge, but in the context of creating new habits? Game changing.
And that was just from the first 40 pages. The rest of Better Than Before is filled with strategies for change and suggestions for adapting each one to your individual temperament. If I hadn’t been reading a library copy, I’d have been highlighting the crap out of it. As it was, I took tons of notes. Now that I have my own copy (a Christmas gift from David…thanks love!) I can’t wait to dive back in and learn more.
I know I sound like a commercial every time I say this, but this book has seriously changed my life. I’m making slow but constant improvements in areas where I once thought I was doomed to fail. I’m setting goals that actually make sense…not because some self-help guru told me I should live my life a certain way, but because I want to live that way.
And let me tell you right now: I’m not getting up extra early to make it happen. Which is great, because I really love my bed.
Have you set any goals for the new year? I’m still working on mine, and I’m sure I’ll share some of them as the year progresses, but I’d love to hear what everyone else is hoping to accomplish in 2016. Maybe we can motivate each other!