Prefer to listen rather than read?  You can hear an AI-generated voiceover of this blog here:

Are you struggling with motivation, productivity or making habits stick.  Do you keep trying to put a new routine in place or plans into action, only for everything to go out of the window not long after?  You might be a rebel and rebelling against yourself.  You might not see yourself as a rebel but do read on.  There’s quiet rebels too (we’re not all leading the revolution).

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • You struggle with being told what to do, when and like to do things your own way
  • You find it tricky to motivate yourself, form positive habits or create a routine
  • You like to work towards your own goals in your own way
  • You resist what you’re “supposed” to do and dislike expectations
  • You can find it difficult to accept instructions and orders
  • You don’t like to feel confined or constrained
  • You don’t always play by the rules

  • You love spontaneity and can struggle with supervision, advice, reminders and repetition
  • Your value authenticity and being in charge of your own destiny
  • Persuasions like “people are counting on you,” “you’ve already paid”, “let’s do it like this from now”, “this is the deadline” or “it’s against the rules” don’t do it for you

  • Instead, you’re more like to respond to being told “this will be fun”, “I’m struggling with this, could you help?” or “this feels important, what do you think?”

If you’re nodding along to quite a few of these, then you might just be a rebel (like me).  And that’s a great thing!

The Rebel Advantage

Ok, so you’re a rebel and that means that you have some great advantages – gifts which can include:

  • Having a unique approach – you’re not one to follow the pack
  • Seeing fresh perspectives, innovations and options that others might miss

  • Resisting the pressures of conformity and obligation that others may feel – in fact, you may relish in being a little different

  • Having the capacity to take on a challenge, as long as you can do it in your own way.  In fact, you love to prove people wrong and defy expectations
  • Being in tune with what’s important to you, motivated more by what you want, than what you should.  This can be a fantastic place of passion, focus and spontaneity.

  • Acting from a sense of choice, freedom, and self-determination
  • Aiming for your life to be a true expression of yourself and your values
  • Challenging the status quo if it’s not delivering, or doesn’t align with a cause you’re passionate about

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  But it can have some challenges too.

Some Rebel Drawbacks

Rebel tendencies can make things a little tricky at times.  Take it from me!  It can difficult to work within existing rules and regulations and take detailed instructions from others. Autonomy and agency is key – we’re often self-employed or working in less formally structured businesses.

Being part of a team could be challenging if you’re expected to do certain things at certain times, or given restrictive orders.  And friendships and relationships can come under strain if people want you to conform or obey.

As the ability to choose is so important, you may even make a choice just to prove you can, even when that might not be your preference or in own self-interest (cutting off your nose to spite your face kind of vibe!).

Motivation and self-discipline can be elusive.  Sadly, you rebel against yourself as well as others so it can be tricky to put plans into action, create routines and adopt automated habits – essentially anything that’s like giving yourself rules and regulations.  Many productivity and accountability strategies that work for others, just won’t for you.

A Few Helpful Tips

So what to do?  I really like Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies approach and her advice for motivating yourself (and other rebels).  Check out her quiz to see how you score.   This can even help you to help others to get the best from you, if you’re willing to share some of the advice below with your friends, partners, colleagues, even bosses.

Here’s how to help your inner rebel work for, rather than against, you:

  • Focus on why you want to do something, what it will give you and how that aligns with your identity or values. So, let’s look of an example of struggling to exercise consistently. It might be that you want to be fit so you’ve got the energy you need for to put your plans into action and that you want to achieve the challenge of running 10k or whatever. Gretchen Rubin calls this the Strategy of Clarity.

  • Take time to work out how exercising can help you to be true to yourself, i.e. you’re a natural athlete, you love sport, you’re someone who hates being stuck inside all day, you love to feel strong and be on the move. Gretchen Rubin calls this the Strategy of Identity.

  • Find a way of exercising that’s different from what most others to, i.e. a standard gym or exercise classes at set times might not be for you, instead you might prefer CrossFit, doing your own thing at home, learning a new skill like slackline or coldwater swimming (Gretchen Rubin’s Strategy of Other People)

  • Use information-consequence-choice when considering a task (with yourself or other rebels, or share this with people working with you). For this, you provide information about the reason for the task, then explain what happens if done or not (without judgement or bias), and then leave the rebel (you or someone else) to decide the option they want to take.

If you’ve got rebel tendencies and you’re struggling with motivation or productivity, this is a great starting point.  But I think there’s more we can do too to get some benefit from automating tasks and creating routines whilst honouring our inner rebel.

More about that next week