What Type A’s Can Learn from Type B’s, Part 2

Filed in Living by on May 7, 2015 0 Comments

iStock_000015508514This is a second post (Part 1 here) in a series of articles on attitudes and behaviors that Type A’s might benefit from adopting from our good friends, those relaxed (lethargic?) Type B’s.

We Type A’s have a tendency to be so ambitious and aggressive that we often take on more responsibilities than we can comfortably handle, and then end up feeling overwhelmed. There is actually a useful way of thinking about and addressing these situations that we can learn from our Type B brethren.

By way of example, my daughter Jennifer, who has strong Type A tendencies, was recently confronted with circumstances that were causing her to feel overwhelmed. She has a very demanding position as manager of social services at a non-profit agency, and she is also pursuing a master’s degree at an elite university to become a clinical therapist. As part of the degree requirements, she needs to perform two 3 – 4 month internships, the first requiring 16 hours of work per week, and the second 24 hours per week. So she was facing the upcoming semester where she would be working 40+ hours per week at her regular job, interning 16 hours per week, and taking two classes at night so she could keep her student loan funding. Yikes!

Understandably, she was feeling the heat. So I offered her some counsel.

I first asked Jennifer what type of internship she was pursuing, and she had chosen one that while probably very useful as preparation for her future career, also sounded extremely demanding. (The usual and expected course of action by someone as motivated and ambitious as my fine daughter.) I told her that considering her work and school demands, she might consider choosing a less taxing internship. So what if it isn’t the ideal preparation for the future—she just needed to make it through the next few months! Survival was going to be the highest priority, as well as maintaining her health, through this difficult period.

I also told her that she might put a little less pressure on herself by cutting some corners at work. She was already so highly thought of, what would be the likely consequence? Her boss would certainly understand her predicament and give her some leeway. I also advised her that if she happened to get a “B” in one or both classes, it would probably not be the end of the world, since she already had such high grades, and with 15 years of work experience in her field, her graduate school grades weren’t going to be that critical.

Lastly, I said if her work load was still unmanageable, she could go to her boss and ask to be put on part-time with a reduced salary for a while, if that was possible. Elaine and I would be willing to supplement her income to help pay her expenses during that period.

She said she understood and would try to lessen her perfectionist ways over the upcoming months, to be happier and healthier, although she added that it wouldn’t be very easy for her to do. Talking to a Type A like me, I said she’s preaching to the choir!

Jennifer is not alone in her single-minded pursuit of success. It is a common trait of people with Type A personalities. The change in thinking and behavior that is useful in these situations is that you do not have to feel trapped by your circumstances. You always have options and choices, no matter how much it might feel like you don’t. You have free will, to set priorities and make decisions, in every situation in life. You simply need to make yourself aware of them and act on the ones that are truly in your best interest. You also have people around you who love and will support you.

When it feels as though the walls are crashing in due to all of the demands of your work and home life, take a deep breath, and consider all of your options. You might find that there is a better and more reasonable path through your situation, and you have your Type B friends to thank for helping guide the way!

About the Author ()

TIM MCINTYRE retired in 2004 from his position as president of Applied Systems after facilitating a successful sale of the company. At only forty-six years old, he made the unusual decision to fully retire to pursue other interests and simply enjoy free time. As a hard-driving Type A personality, this turned out to be a significant challenge for the Notre Dame and University of Chicago-educated MBA, CPA, and Certified Cash Manager.

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