Your personality plays an important role in habit change. It can be seen as the motor which drives your behavior – in this case, your behavior to change habits. It’s important to know what your personality is because it tends to be pretty consistent day-in and day-out. It determines how we’re able to accomplish our goals, so in order to be successful, you need to figure out how you tick. And rather than make you go on some spiritual journey to do that, we went ahead and created a quiz that will help. (Aren’t we nice?)
Now, we’re not pretending we know you better than you do. But based on our work and research, we can determine that you fit into one of the following three personalities:
If these terms confuse you, it’s okay – we explain what each is a little further along. For now, what you need to know is there is a close relationship between your habit personality and the way in which you break habits. We each have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to habit change, and by recognizing what our habit personality is, we can use it to our advantage to increase our chances of success. This is why it’s important for you to know and understand your own habit personality, so that you don’t inadvertently sabotage your habit change.
Personality 1 – The Band-Aid Ripper
You probably remember being told as a kid, “just rip the band-aid off. It’ll hurt more if you peel it off slowly.”
Well, this is the Band-Aid Ripper – you’re willing to deal with a lot of pain and stressing in the short-term to prevent long-term suffering.
You have a personality where you feel like you constantly have to move forward. You’re basically like a shark – if you’re not moving, you’re dying.
When it comes to habit change, your approach is to quit cold turkey. Nail biting, alcohol, smoking – it’s going to suck more if you try to quit gradually. It’s easier to just stop right now, and power through the withdrawal.
“That’s it! Tomorrow, I’m going to quit [fill in the blank]!”
And just like that, you “quit”.
But WAIT, it’s not that easy is it?
What you give up is the routine, but the craving still lingers. When you quit, you’re constantly catching yourself and stopping yourself from doing your bad habit. You and your craving are in a deathmatch – 2 enter, 1 leaves.
Slowly but surely, the craving goes away and things become easier and easier. Eventually, you quit the habit. (Take that Tina Turner!)
Why is the Band-Aid Ripper able to succeed where others fail? This individual may have a good reason to quit. But what really sets them apart is their level of determination. They feel a strong desire to change their habits. They believe in their reason to change.
I did this with fast food. Let me say that if fast food were healthy, I’d still be eating it. I grew up on it. Loved Micky D’s, loved Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich, love me some taco supremes from Taco Bell. Yum!
But I haven’t touched fast food in over 10 years! I was able to rip the band-aid off because of my determination and my conviction in my reason to quit. The idea of the food being unhealthy didn’t do it for me. My reason was the mistreatment of the animals.
When I learned about how those poor animals are treated, I quit immediately. I couldn’t stomach their suffering and their pain. Once I was truly convinced I needed to change, my intrinsic motivation kicked in!
One challenge a Band-Aid Ripper runs into it is the fact that their habit change happens so fast, they have very little time to plan for it. They can be short-sighted. For example, I could’ve made the decision to stop eating fast food – but did I properly plan for what I’d do as an alternative? Probably not.
A quick decision could turn a bad habit into a big problem if you’re not mindful of the potential pitfalls and consequences of your decision.
Another challenge is being impatient with the habit change. As we’ve been saying over and over again – habit change takes time. Sure, you can “quit” something overnight, but the cravings will linger. If you’re looking for quick results, you can get yourself in trouble as a Band-Aid Ripper.
So if you’re going to rip off that band-aid because you think it’s the right thing to do, make sure first. Know that it’s going to hurt either way, and make a plan. Be a little more like our second personality – a Slowpoke.
- Takes action
Personality 2 – The Slowpoke
The easiest way to look at the Slowpoke is that they’re the polar opposite of a Band-Aid Ripper. If you read through the description of the Band-Aid Ripper, and the idea of them just diving headfirst into their habit change FREAKED you out – then congratulations – you’re probably a Slowpoke.
As a Slowpoke, you’re very deliberate and methodical. You don’t take decisions lightly. You don’t change overnight. When someone tell you to be spontaneous, you imagine something will go wrong, and you won’t know what to do. This is basically how you see things going when you don’t have a plan.
As a Slowpoke, Habit change isn’t easy for you.
This isn’t to say habit change is any harder for a Slowpoke than our other 2 personalities. It just means it’s slower and more gradual. You take the band-aid off slowly – you’d rather deal with small amounts of pain over a long period of time instead of an intense amount of pain all at once.
But gradually over time, your habits change until you finally give up your bad habit completely. Your ability to plan your habit change is your greatest strength.
Another strength is your patience. You’re able to commit to the long game – as long as you’re able to take a small step every single day, you feel encouraged that you’re succeeding at your habit change.
Your biggest challenge is your self-confidence. A Slowpoke tends to lack self-confidence that they can make the habit change, and it’s something that holds you back sometimes from following through with the change.
Your confidence can be rattled too when you’re in the process of changing your habit, and something disrupts it. Once you lose your confidence, it’s an uphill battle to regain your momentum.
Similar to the struggles with self-confidence, you can easily fit yourself in an “analysis paralysis” situation, which is one of the most common habit change mistakes people make. Because you’re so good at analyzing things, you’re able to think through all of the “what if” scenarios, eventually shaking your confidence and belief in yourself to break your bad habit.
I was a Slowpoke when it came to my running habit. I always HATED running, but I wanted to change my couch potato behavior. However, every time I turned to get into running, I’d be out of breath by a mile into my run and I’d quit.
I didn’t want to be like that anymore, so I committed to getting in shape and building up my cardio. I signed up for a half-marathon to give myself a deadline – I was going to run that half-marathon one way or another. And since I didn’t want to die on the course, I created a running plan to slowly build up my endurance, and my confidence in my ability to run more than 1 mile.
And though it took time and some frustration, I ran that half marathon. And now I’m proud to say I love running. It’s a part of my identity.
Maybe you read about the Band-Aid Ripper and Slowpoke personalities, and don’t immediately identify with either. In that case, you may be an Engineer.
- Lack of confidence
- Take too much time to act
Personality 3 – The Engineer
Engineers tend to have a clear vision of what they want in life. They have their routines and they stick to them. They’re very strong-willed, disciplined, and may even be described as stubborn.
Their day is like clockwork. They treat every moment of their day as a ritual. And they’re very proud of that.
Since an Engineer’s routine is typically so structured, they believe everything they do in a day is on purpose. They won’t just change a bad habit the way a Band-Aid Ripper does. And even if they did research on why something is bad for them, they’ll just shrug and say, “this is my life.”
The more they’re pushed by others to change, they double down in their approach because they believe in it so strongly. Habit change is difficult for the Engineer because unless they, themselves, want to change, they won’t.
This isn’t to say that an Engineer doesn’t believe their lives can’t be improved upon or that they’re perfect. It’s just that committing to a routine change to something foreign to them isn’t something they’re interested in – no matter how good it would be for them.
However, when an Engineer decides to change, they have a very specific talent to help them succeed – a particular set of skills, if you will. What they do is replace their bad habits with a good one.
That’s why they’re called the Engineer – they can re-engineer their routine and substitute a healthy one in place of a bad one. They still want the “experience” from their routine, but they want to make it better and healthier.
As we described, the Engineers biggest challenge is their stubbornness and the way they identify with their habits. They have to make up their own mind to break their habits, so identify their motivation to change is important.
I was an Engineer when it came to my coffee habit – specifically cafe au laits. I love those things, but I wanted to kick the habit. I liked the alertness, the boost of energy, and the taste. But what I LOVED was my morning ritual of going to the cafe, at the same time every morning, watching the barista steam my 2% milk, pouring it into my dark coffee, and then enjoying my drink as I went to work. I didn’t want to give that up.
It would’ve been too disrupt to quiet coffee overnight the way I did with fast food. Gradually decreasing my consumption wasn’t an option either. I had to replace my routine, and redesign the habit.
So, what I did was slowly introduce just black coffee into my morning ritual. Every once and awhile, I’d drink black coffee instead of cafe au laits. And then I moved from coffee to tea.
- Identifies habit as self
There you have it – the 3 Personalities of Habit Change!
Your habit personality is your preference for breaking habits. Some people find it effective to quit a habit all at once, while others have more success limiting the change to happen slowly over time. A key thing to remember is that just because we identify with a certain personality type doesn’t mean that’s all that we are. We evolve and we adapt. Our personalities are dynamic. As you can see, I embodied all three personalities for different situations. What worked for me in one situation wouldn’t have worked for me in another.
By identifying your primary habit personality, you see where you tend to lean when it comes to habit change. Maybe one of the reasons why you haven’t succeeded in the past with your habit change is because you’re using the wrong strategy at the wrong time. Maybe you should be more of a Slowpoke when you’re a Band-Aid Ripper. Or you should be an Engineer instead of a Band-Aid Ripper.
Perhaps the most important takeaway you’ll get from identifying your habit personality is that it raises your awareness of the characteristics and behaviors that may help and hinder you from reaching your goals. Picking the right personality will depend on the type of habit you’re trying to break. Not every personality is suited for a particular habit change. The good news is, if you take the quiz below, you’ll be able to determine your personality and identify your strengths and weaknesses.
The only question that remains is: Which type are you?