Ever heard of the type A and type B personality theory?
According to two scientists from the 1950s, Meyer Friedman and RH Rosenman, there are two types of people – those who are very prone to stress and those who basically live their lives to the beat of the “Don’t Worry Be Happy” song.
And as it turns out, type A people aren’t only stressed more often than type Bs. They also show some unique characteristics.
Want to know if you’re a type A personality? These are the 8 signs to look out for.
1) You’re success-oriented
The reason type A people are more likely to get stressed is that they aim high and they’re trying to do their best to achieve those goals.
In other words, they are very success-minded. Be it climbing up the ladder of the social hierarchy, winning different competitions, or becoming a pro at a specific skill, they want to go as far as they possibly can.
This isn’t inherently bad. After all, having goals is extremely important, and why shouldn’t you pursue your passion with relentless drive? Ambition is a good thing.
The issue comes when you’re so focused on external accomplishment that you start to build your whole sense of self-worth around your achievements.
Remember – you don’t need others’ approval to be successful. You’re enough as you are. An award won’t increase your value because you are already valuable.
2) You take active steps toward your goals
If there’s one thing type A people excel at, it’s organization. Trackers, to-do lists, timers… type A people know it all.
This is because they understand that just dreaming about something isn’t enough.
You’ve got to take action day in and day out. You’ve got to build habits, schedules, and accountability systems to keep you on track.
Are you someone whose actions speak louder than their words? Do you actively work on your goals in order to turn them into your reality?
Sounds like you may be a type A personality!
3) Your day-to-day is brimming with activities
Some people do two or three things a day, and that’s that. Others, though, have a long to-do list that gets regularly ticked off.
The latter isn’t automatically better, mind you – the fact that you have so much on your plate might also mean you’re stressed out a lot, which may have a bad impact on your physical and mental health.
It all depends on your energy levels. For some of us, it’s more than enough to go to work, come home, read a few pages of a book, and fall asleep.
Sometimes, people are simply too exhausted or too unmotivated to do anything on top of their daily schedule, and that’s completely understandable – after all, the 40-hour workweek will take out just about anybody.
But type A people tend to be so success-oriented that their sheer will fuel them even if motivation fails.
One of my friends, for example, works a 9-5. On top of that, she goes to the gym four times a week, does a huge meal prep twice a week, reads books, works on her side hustle, and invests a lot of time in wellness and beauty.
Yep, it’s pretty impressive, and it definitely makes her type A. But keep in mind that not everyone has the energy to do so many activities in one day, and that’s also okay.
4) You work hard – sometimes too hard
And that brings us to the next point!
Type A personalities are hard workers. While this is often highlighted in CVs and interviews as a good thing, the issue is that many type As don’t know when to stop.
You might stick to a busy schedule for two months straight, only to completely burn out because the stressful nature of your days isn’t sustainable.
You may set the bar too high and start building five different habits at the same time, only to not be able to keep the momentum going and beat yourself up about it.
Type As always strive to be better, which is amazing, but they tend to forget how great they already are in the process.
Some days, you should simply take a break. Contrary to what you might think, a proper break is the most productive thing you can do because it helps you work at your maximum the next day.
It’s a bit like stopping at the gas station for a bit. If you never rest and add in more fuel, your car won’t get very far.
5) You tend to run out of patience pretty quickly
Of course, the problem with taking a break is that lots of type As are impatient to finally have it over with and get back to work.
You might find yourself pacing around the house with nothing to do, thinking about work stuff even though you’re supposed to be resting, or taking work calls instead of turning your phone off.
If you’re a type A, it means patience isn’t exactly your strong suit.
You love dynamic movement, ticking off boxes, and blazing through your tasks with energy.
What you don’t love is sitting still and waiting.
Queues are your absolute nightmare. Slow coworkers are the worst. And if you’re not progressing as quickly as you would have liked, you get frustrated with yourself.
The good news is that patience is something you can work on.
I, for instance, used to be incredibly impatient all the time. Thanks to mindfulness and meditation, I’ve learned to accept the present moment as it comes.
When I’m stuck in a queue, I just focus on my breath and become aware of my surroundings. Alternatively, I whip out a book. Before I know it, the wait is over.
6) You’re the definition of “restless”
Your body language says more about your personality than you may think.
Since type As are almost always in a rush, their body mimics that energy, making them appear fidgety and restless.
If you’re a type A, the following may apply:
- You have restless leg syndrome
- You often play with the objects on your desk or you bite your nails
- You feel at your best when you’re rushing from one thing to another
- You struggle to sit still
Please bear in mind that these aren’t just symptoms of type A personalities but also hyperactivity. You might be a type A, you might have ADHD, or you might simply be going through a stressful period of your life – nothing is ever black-and-white.
7) You’re very competitive
….but you don’t necessarily compete against other people. As someone who used to be a type A and has slowly been moving toward type B over the years, I remember that I used to be primarily preoccupied with my own progress.
In other words, I was competing against myself. I imagined progress as something linear – each day, I’d have to be better than my past self. Each day, I’d need to reach higher.
I soon realized that this was quite naïve, and what’s more, unsustainable. Progress isn’t linear because humans operate in rhythms and cycles. The seasonal cycle or the menstrual cycle affect our energy levels.
The fact that you feel great on Friday doesn’t mean you’ll feel even better on Saturday. Show yourself some grace. Let yourself rest. You won’t get it right every single day, and that’s okay.
Of course, many type As also like to compete against others, which is even more unsustainable because you have no power over somebody else’s progress. You are on your own timeline. This is your journey.
And you are exactly where you’re meant to be.
8) You beat yourself up too often
Lastly, type A personalities are so very achievement-oriented that they can be very harsh on themselves.
If you don’t manage to hit your monthly goals, you chastise yourself. If you’re not your boss’s favorite, you feel like a failure. If you make a mistake, you overthink it for days on end.
Whilst some type A characteristics are amazing – such as organization and the ability to actively follow one’s dreams – others lead to a lot of stress and anxiety.
So, if you think you’re a type A, why not learn a thing or two from type Bs?