The Rubin Tendencies – What Happens When You are an Obliging Freelancer

The Rubin Tendencies – What Happens When You are an Obliging Freelancer

I don’t know if any of you are familiar with Gretchen Rubin and her novels, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home – but she classifies people in four categories of tendencies when it comes to their approach on internal and external expectations. I’m not going to go into too much detail with regard to her theories – but if you are into human behaviour and doing some life-hacking this is definitely something you should check out. These are the basic characteristics of each type – and this is relevant to every person since it will not only explain our actions but our habits in general. Some of us are influenced mostly by external motivations and some of us will follow every single internal rule or expectation that we’ve set for ourselves.

In a nutshell Gretchen shares the following on her website:

Upholders – They respond readily to outer and inner expectations

Questioners – They question all expectations, they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense – essentially they make all expectations into inner expectations.

Rebels – They resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.

Obligers They meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves.

If you are wondering how this relates to pleasing yourself and/or others – I’m an obliger. Realistically I’m not supposed to really work for myself or be a self-starter since I would probably be just as fine with helping someone else reach their goal.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m super stoked about being a obliger – and if you know in which category you fall, you can use this to your advantage. In my case I’ve come to understand why I’m so excited about doing job search for a friend, or find whatever the people around me are looking for.

Out of the 11 questions, I answered ‘yes’ to nine of them in the obliging category.


___ I sometimes describe myself as a “people-pleaser.”

___ People often turn to me for help—to edit a report, to take over a carpool run, to speak at a conference at the last minute.

___ I’ve given up making New Year’s resolutions, because I never keep them.

___ I get frustrated by the fact that I make time for other people’s priorities, but struggle to make time for my own.

___ Every once in a while, I snap, and in a sudden moment of rebellion, I refuse to do what other people expect of me.

___ Promises to other people can’t be broken, but promises to myself can be broken.

___ Unless someone is enforcing a deadline, it’s hard for me to get work done.

___ I sometimes feel burned out, and it’s hard for me to take the time and effort for myself, to recharge my battery.

___ I’ll do something to be a good role model, even if it’s not something that I’d do for myself. Practice piano, eat vegetables, quit smoking.

___ It’s hard for me to tell people “no.”

___ I’ve made some good habits, but I often struggle without success to form others.

(Credit – Gretchen Rubin)

Now that I know that I’m more likely to please others in my everyday life – I need to look at ways in which this could be a strength instead of a weakness. With regard to my freelance career I really don’t see it as a bad thing. I think this is a part of what makes me the ideal freelancer. I take guidance well and I can follow instructions, but I prefer to work independently. It’s more about finding practical ways to fight the system in my everyday life.

In order for me to be a successful freelancer, I need to eliminate what is holding me back – and unfortunately it’s these obliging habits that seem to be the culprit. I don’t have a boss that is micromanaging me day in and day out, I’m that boss. And since I’m not adhering to my internal expectations I will end up helping someone else finding the right job instead of working on my own career. In my case this might also be a form of procrastination – but I experience genuine joy when helping others. So it’s all about making some sacrifices in my personal life in order to make my obliging nature work for my freelance career and personal growth.

These are ways in which I can practically improve the situation (I think):

  • Set-up a routine with a fair amount of flexibility

  • Stop initiating plans with others during the week – let them take the lead

  • Stick to certain work hours and say ‘no’ for any interruptions during this time

  • Give myself an half hour a day to check in with others and help where I can

  • Allow myself small cheats/rebel moments by doing something I truly want when I want and how I want it.

  • Work on relaxation methods such as going to the gym, taking long baths and reading. Do at least one of these daily.

  • Revisit personal goals and vision on a weekly basis.

  • Break up personal goals into smaller steps to avoid intimidation

  • Find a mentor for business guidance (also someone to be accountable to)

Here is the QUIZ if you want to see where you fit in? I would love to know what your tendencies are and how you are using it to your advantage!

3 Replies to “The Rubin Tendencies – What Happens When You are an Obliging Freelancer”

  1. It is perfect time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or tips. Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article. I want to read even more things about it!

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