Could This Be The Reason You Can't Commit to Regular Practice?

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Hi I'm Kim and I'm a singer, vocal coach AND a hopeless practicer.

While all the other musicians in my university course were climbing over each other to book rehearsal rooms, I just shrugged my shoulders, muttered "meh" under my breath and went off to make some two minute noodles for lunch (no nutritional value, wouldn't recommend it now).

I just figured I was either a cool rebel without a cause, simply unmotivated or worse still, it wasn't really my true calling. Maybe I wasn't dedicated enough to do this as a career.

Then I read The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin and things started to make sense.

Recently on my trip to London I practiced. Often. For the first time in... maybe ever. I had lessons with other vocal coaches booked in and had to pay upfront for rehearsal space.

Little did I know, this was the missing piece I so desperately needed.



Rubin has spent years researching human nature and for her last book specifically expectations and why we meet or don't meet them.

She was fascinated that some people had absolutely no problems setting and achieving goals, aligning with the classic Nike slogan "just do it" and others really struggled.

As she pieced it together, she realised the bigger question was "How do you respond to expectations, both inner and outer?"

So, ask yourself, how likely am I to follow through with

• outer expectations (meeting a deadline from your boss, answering a request from a friend), and

• inner expectations (practicing singing, going for a daily run)

Your answer then gives you an idea of your “tendency.”


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Upholders are the goody two shoes of the tendencies. They tend to meet both outer and inner expectations. They turn up on time, they meet deadlines and can even keep their New Year's Resolutions.

This is the tendency I keep thinking I'll morph into if I have enough coffee. But alas.

Questioners live up to their name and question all expectations. They’ll do it if they think it makes sense and meets their own inner criteria — so they follow only inner expectations. They're not going to do something just because you ask them to.

Obligers tend to meet outer expectations, but then find it harder to meet their own. This is also the most common tendency (for both men and women) and they're the people others tend to go to and lean on because they'll more often than not help them out.

Rebels fight back on all expectations, both inner and outer. They just want to do their own thing and will put up a fight if you try to throw rules at them.

People can can also tip into other tendencies, say a Questioner-Rebel or Obliger-Upholder.



Okay, so let's break down a plan of attack for all tendencies (with suggestions on how I or my creations can be helpful).

If you're an Upholder, you probably aren't even reading this article because you don't struggle with practicing regularly. You most likely set your mind to something and get it done.

But if not, you'll most likely respond well to a routine or a schedule. To do lists are also kinda your jam. Just have a little compassion for others who aren't so well-rounded on the meeting expectations front.

LITTLE HELPERS: You're also the person who may not feel the need for as much one on one coaching/feedback and will actually make your way through (and complete) an online course.


If you think you're a Questioner, you might find yourself in analysis paralysis a fair bit. Questioners want to do ALL the research and understand every option before committing to something.

Setting boundaries on this is a good idea. "Okay, I'll research singing exercises for 45 minutes and then go with the best option".

It's also helpful to know that you tend to push back on external expectations unless you know the reason why.

So if your bandmates request a rehearsal, pipe up and ask them why. If your singing teacher wants you to focus on a specific technique and you don't think it'll help, get them to explain the reasons behind it and the outcome they want to help you achieve.

LITTLE HELPERS: You'll probably want to ask a million questions before committing to lessons, courses or programs. So hit me up here if you have any you want to float by me!


My fellow Obligers - our tendency seems great for others because we're super helpful but it's very stressful for us. Why can't we motivate ourselves to work on our own goals? Why can we drop everything for someone else but not our ourselves?

We need outer accountability. This is why I was able to practice overseas. I had lessons scheduled and practice rooms booked. I had to turn up otherwise I would be charged or disappoint someone.

LITTLE HELPERS: You need external accountability so one on one lessons suit you well. Or you could recruit a singing friend to check in with you so you both do your practice.

This is also why my Singing Survivor challenge is so popular because it has in-built outer accountability!.


To my Rebels, you're probably not worried about not sticking to a practice routine. And you're probably teaching yourself how to sing and don't need any of my input, BUT if you do you'll want to avoid constraints.

It's not a great idea to commit to something you HAVE to do (like weekly lessons) because you'll resist it. You'll need to go with the flow a bit more and allow for lots of freedom with your learning.

LITTLE HELPERS: An online course that you can dip in and out of might be a good option.


TELL ME: What tendency do you think you fit into? How can you put things in place to meet your singing goals?