The Four Tendencies: Upholder

This article focuses on the Upholder tendency and is the fourth in a series of articles all about the Four Tendencies and how you can put better systems in place to change your habits. If you haven’t read the first article yet, check out The Four Tendencies article now.

What are the Four Tendencies?

Text "Where Do I Start" with hand drawing a question mark next to it

The Four Tendencies framework is a simple and elegant way to categorize how we respond to both internal and external expectations.

The Four Tendencies categorizes people with regards to how they respond to EXPECTATIONS, that’s it. A narrow aspect of our whole person, but very mighty because this influences how we accomplish our goals.

Check out Gretchen Rubin’s podcast episode all about the Four Tendencies.

What is your tendency?

If you haven’t done so already, take the quiz here to learn your tendency.

If you’re a patient of mine, email me your tendency! I like to keep note of this in your chart because it helps me to help you improve your health!

Do you find yourself Overwhelmed?

Wooden cubes spelling out "strict"

Do you get stuck in a routine?

Are you sometimes called “rigid” or “strict”?

Do you pride yourself on being self-directed and on top of all your tasks but frustrated when others can’t seem to get things done or follow through? If you are a rule-follower, a routine-lover, and to-do-list-checker then you are probably an Upholder!

This is my tendency! According to Gretchen Rubin’s research, Upholders make up only 19% of the population.

“Discipline is my freedom”

Upholders “respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations.” Upholders like to-do lists, structure, clear expectations, predictability, and reliability. You are eager to meet expectations so can seem to have the easiest time adopting good habits. For these reasons, it can seem like this would be the most desirable Tendency…

Power outlet and power bar both full, cords everywhere

However, due to the very high expectations Upholders put on themselves and others, you have a hard time dealing with unpredictability, changes in routine, and depending on other people. Upholders can put so many expectations on themselves that they end up overburdened and stuck.

Your challenge is to meet expectations without becoming overwhelmed, rigid, and defensive. You can struggle to eliminate behaviours that aren’t working for you and retain flexibility so you can be open to new ideas and opportunities.

Upholder Key to Success: Scheduling

Upholders have high expectations of themselves and can try to take on too much. This can lead to Upholders stitching themselves into a tighter and tighter set of rules until they feel suffocated and overwhelmed.

Photo of clock next to calendar and pencil

You usually do not have trouble with motivation or following through with action, but it is important for you to make things work for your life without becoming too rigid.

As an Upholder, getting yourself organized and scheduling the behaviours you want to accomplish creates a system where you can more effortlessly follow a plan. Set it and forget it!

How I work with Upholders:

1. Focus on keystone habits

Example: Rather than get hung up on doing every little thing perfectly, emphasize behaviours and habits (like diet tracking, exercise, increasing sleep) that have the most profound effects on health.

2. Create a detailed plan

Example: Your treatment plan includes details on how, when, and how long to do the things I recommend.

3. Provide opportunities for monitoring

Example: I recommend tools to track habits like diet or meditation which can be very motivating for Upholders.

What’s next?

To learn more, check out Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast episode all about Upholders. And stay tuned for my next article all about Rebels.

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