Happy Healthy Homestead

Book Review: Better than Before

This month I read ‘Better than Before’ by Gretchen Rubin

Favorite Quotes:

“Habits are the invisible architecture of daily life. We repeat about 40% of our behavior almost daily, so our habits shape our existence, and our future.”

“….All of my work on habits and happiness was meant to help us construct, as much as possible…every day life in Utopia. Everyday life with deep, loving relationships and productive, satisfying work; everyday life with energy, health, and productivity; everyday life with fun, enthusiasm, and engagement, with as little regret, guilt, or anger as possible.”

Main Takeaways:

Better than Before was an interesting read on habit change and the most effective ways to change your own habits. Most of which include getting to know yourself by knowing your tendency, your personality, your likes, and your passions so that you can customize scheduling, planning, and how you go about incorporating things in your life. The author writes in a way that is easy to read and follow along. While I already was scheduling specific items in to change habits and reach my goals, I did find lots of new tidbits of information throughout the book that helped me to implement and think about habit change in my own life. I suggest you give it a read!

My summary of notes:

  • It’s important to make habits for small daily things that are of value to you because everyone has only so much willpower/self-control and decision fatigue.
  • If it’s a habit you don’t think about it, meaning no decision making, meaning using less self-control and not eating up into your willpower reserve.

Know your tendency:

Gretchen developed her own framework of peoples tendencies. She has a whole other book just on this topic, but she did touch on it a little in Better than Before:


  • meets outer and inner expectations
  • follows rules
  • wakes up and thinks: what’s on the to do list for today?


  • resists outer expectations and meets inner expectations
  • will do anything that they feel is worthwhile and has purpose or that’s justified
  • wakes up and thinks: what needs to get done today and why?
  • questioners usually come in 2 flavors: those that have inclination to uphold and those that have inclination to rebel.


  • meets outer expectations and resists inner expectations
  • they wake up and think: what must I do today?
  • they make terrific friends and colleagues because they are very dependable and will do so much for other people


  • resists outer and inner expectations
  • they wake up and think: what do I want to do today?
  • if you ask a rebel to do something they will often feel they need to do the opposite

Get to know yourself:

  • are you a lark (morning person) or owl (night person)?
  • Marathoner, sprinter or procrastinator? Difference is sprinter chooses to do things at last minute because it works best for them to work under pressure. Procrastinator puts it off and worries up until.
  • under buyer or over buyer?
  • simplicity or abundance lover?
  • finisher or opener? (do you love finishing the bag of chips or opening a new bag of chips, do you love finishing a project or starting a new project)
  • familiarity lover or novelty lover?
  • promotion focused or prevention focused?
  • prefer small or big steps?
  • how do you like to spend time, what do you value

Pillars of habits:

  • monitoring
  • foundation habits: sleep, move, eat/drink, unclutter
  • scheduling (see ideas section)
  • accountability

Firsts steps to begin:

  • make the habit small and manageable until your sure your ready to expand. (Example: yoga routine w/ 3 poses, writing 1 paragraph of writing project, etc)
  • if you do blast start it’s great for a reset but not maintainable long term (example: boot camp, cleanse, writing a novel in 30 days, a retreat, etc)
  • clean slate: you can form new habits when there is a major change (new job, moving furniture, etc)
  • figure out what triggers habit and replace when necessary (example: go to gym after dropping off kid at school, when kid stops going to school need new trigger for that habit)
  • lightning bolt changes (someone says something to you, you finally realize something or maybe you read research on a particular topic and then you want to make the change/do the thing)
  • Moderators: indulge moderately ongoing
  • Abstainers: if they have a little they will have slot so it’s easier for them to not have at all. And when they don’t have at all they don’t feel they are deprived.


  • Schedule artists date weekly where you spend time doing something creative, an art project, visit an art museum, or exploring a new neighborhood.
  • schedule playtime
  • schedule daily prayer time, breathing exercises, etc (that you want for your lifestyle)
  • schedule time for reoccurring to do list items like paying bills, meal planning
  • schedule time for non-reoccurring to do list items (like buying plane tickets, fixing cabinet, etc)
  • schedule vacations to be at same time of year with different people (family trip, friend trip, etc)
  • make if/then plans to help you stay on track with habits (ex: if I’m writing I shut down my email, if I’m offered wine I decline, etc)
  • set safeguard rules for your life
  • set exceptions in advance (I’m going to eat stuffing for thanksgiving)
  • use treats not rewards
  • use strategy of pairing (must drink water before coffee, or only get to listen to the podcast while walking)