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Quiz: Are You a Finisher or an Opener?

By Gretchen Rubin | LinkedIn

Photo: SmileWarehouse, Flickr

Photo: SmileWarehouse, Flickr

I love dividing people into categories. Under-buyers and over-buyersEeyores and TiggersAbstainers and ModeratorsUpholders, Questioners, Rebels, and Obligers(That last system of classification is the one of which I'm most proud. It's really good, if I do say so myself.)

Another system of classification is “Finishers and Openers.”

Do you get more satisfaction from:

  • throwing away a container or bottle after using the very last drop, or
  • opening a fresh new container

Are you more likely to:

  • have several unfinished projects going at one time, or
  • make sure that you've done a thorough job on your priority project before starting something new

I’m a Finisher; my husband is an Opener. I love to extract the last tiny bit out of a tube of toothpaste, and he loves opening the new tube. True, I do love that first squeeze, and the first dip into a new jar of peanut butter, but I also enjoy using the very last bit of the old stuff. I feel a real sense of accomplishment when I use the last egg in a carton (as I did this morning).

Perhaps this explains the weird satisfaction I feel when something breaks or is worn out. Why do I like to see the worn spots on our sofa? Why do I like getting a hole in a pair of socks? Perhaps it’s my Finisher nature, delighting in the finish.

I wonder if this is related to the distinction between Simplicity Lovers and Abundance Lovers.

I have one blog that I maintain regularly, and every day when I post, I feel the satisfaction of finishing for the day; an Opener acquaintance has bought more than 300 URLs, maintains twelve sites, and he’s always considering launching a new site. That suits his desire for opening.

Do these categories ring true for you? Are you a Finisher or an Opener?

I write about Finishers and Openers, and about many other ways of knowing ourselves better, in my forthcoming book about habit-formation. You may think, "Well, is self-knowledge important to forming habits?" The answer is YES. It's crucial. To hear when the book goes on sale, sign up here.

I've heard that a lot of people are giving Happier at Home as a gift to someone with a new home: recent grad, new roommate, newlywed, newly divorced, empty nester, downsizer, upsizer, new baby, new city. At transitions like these, we give special thought to what we want from “home.” So, to make such a gift a little more special, I’ve created a card about “Tips for happiness in your new home” that I will sign and mail to anyone who wants it. Request them here. U.S. and Canada only, sorry. Mailing costs!


Gretchen Rubin is the author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. She writes about happiness and habit-formation (the subject of her next book) at gretchenrubin.com. Follow her here by clicking the yellow FOLLOW button, on Twitter, @gretchenrubin, on Facebook, facebook.com/GretchenRubin.