9 Things Only Type A People Will Understand

 by Rachel Grice

“He’s so Type A!” It’s something that we’ve all heard used to describe someone that is hardworking, demanding or extremely organized -- and not always in a positive way.


"He's so Type A!" It's something that we've all heard used to describe someone that is hardworking, demanding or extremely organized -- and not always in a positive way. Now a fixture in pop-culture psychology, the concept has been around since the 1950s, when cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman found a link between heart disease and what's now identified as Type A personality. And while the stereotypes about this kind of person are easy to recognize, concrete criteria for who is and who isn't Type A isn't as clear-cut, especially for someone who is, let's say, on the compulsive side. "You realize you're a Type A person when you work with Type Bs -- and vice versa," says Michael Sanger, manager for Hogan Assessments, a company that provides personality assessments to businesses. "And true growth happens when you appreciate and learn from the other personality type." Don't know if you're a Type A? Keep reading to see how many of these traits you identify with.

1. You Race the Person on the Treadmill Next to You

Even if the other person isn't aware you're competing against them, you just can't help but indulge your desire for the top spot. "Because of their goal-oriented focus, Type As tend to be competitive in all things," says Molly Owens, CEO of Truity, developer of the TypeFinder personality-type assessment. Whether you're striving to get ahead at work, leading your neighborhood soccer team to victory or simply aiming to be smarter, better, faster and stronger than you were yesterday, it's important that you find an outlet for your strong competitive nature -- just as long as you can still be a gracious winner and not be a sore loser.

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2. You Thrive on a 9-to-5 Schedule

You do best when your day is perfectly planned out start to finish, and you're in your element when you have a plan to help you accomplish everything on your to-do list. (Oh, and that meticulous to-do list? Also a sign.) "Type As are highly ambitious, driven and motivated people," says personality-type expert Michael Sanger. They're good organizational citizens and highly sought after in the business world, as they exemplify the traits of an ideal manager and are extremely good at following the rules, he says. So if you know you thrive on routine, Sanger recommends setting yourself on a path that allows you to showcase your abilities while minimizing your flaws. "Don't fix yourself, fix the scenario you pursue," he says.

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3. You’re Headed to the Top of the Ladder or Bust

"Type A personalities are typically considered outgoing, domineering high achievers," says Molly Owens, CEO of Truity, developer of the TypeFinder personality-type assessment. "They are driven by lofty goals and typically focus on things like social standing, accomplishments and traditional status symbols." So if you're always gunning for that promotion and keep that corner office in the back of your mind at all times, you're likely a Type A. But remember, work isn't everything, so make it your goal to keep your work life and your personal life in balance.

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4. Your To-Do List Is Ever-Present (and Ever-Growing)

In fact, even your to-do lists have to-do lists (or, at the very least, lots of highlights and annotations). "You know you're a Type A person when you go over your to-do list first thing in the morning and you're multitasking to a superhuman amount," says Melissa Heisler, stress-reduction expert and author of "From Type A to Type Me: How to Stop 'Doing' Life and Start Living It." So use your affinity for color-coding and list making to your advantage. Capitalize on your organizational skills to help your non-Type A family members and coworkers and motivate them to do well without setting unrealistic expectations, says Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist and professor of psychology. Take charge of planning your next family vacation, volunteer to head up a new project at work or organize a weekend getaway for your friends. But maybe, just maybe, learn to delegate some of those action items.

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5. You Get Stressed and Frustrated Easily

Though there are plenty of great things that come with being a Type A, one of the worst is the way your health can suffer if you don't keep your Type A tendencies in check. "In our multitasking-driven world, Type As tend to get ahead in terms of traditional barometers of success, but their health is likely to suffer," says clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula. "Research has shown that it really was the hostility element of the Type A personality that is most consistently associated with health outcomes like heart disease." So when you feel yourself getting stressed, ask yourself if it's really worth it to get worked up over something that you may not even be able to control. Stress-reduction expert Melissa Heisler often asks her clients, "If this is the last five minutes of your life, is this what you want to experience?" Take a step back and allow yourself a few deep breaths before diving back in with a clearer head.

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6. You Measure Success by How Much You Accomplished That Day

If everything was crossed off your to-do list today, then it was a good day. If not, you tend to either work until it is or lose sleep over it (see slide 7). And while getting things done is one of the major reasons people rely on you, you may need a perspective shift. "Compare yourself to a child," says stress-reduction expert Melissa Heisler. "They don't do a lot of things, but they're worth a lot." She suggests making small changes, such as swapping out store-bought cookies for homemade. Once you see that people still love and appreciate you, you'll build up proof that your belief system is off, she says.

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7. You Can’t Fall Asleep Because Your Mind Is Racing

Insomnia due to uncompleted to-do lists and unread emails can be one of the signs that you're a Type A person, says stress-reduction expert Melissa Heisler. Even though you've turned off your smartphone notifications and are tired enough to fall asleep, your mind won't quit reminding you of all the things you have to do tomorrow, or it keeps replaying situations from the day and how you could have handled them better. One way to set yourself up for better sleep is to pace yourself more effectively throughout the day. Instead of racing to finish everything, Heisler encourages her clients to find a "state of gray," where your left brain (rational side) is disengaged and your right brain (creative side) has a chance to take the driver's seat. Things like knitting, running, singing or even coloring are great options. Or find small ways to take a step back, like turning off your radio and cellphone and just focusing on driving. The fewer distractions, the more your brain can relax and recharge.

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8. You Get Compared to Martha Stewart

Outwardly, you might brush it off. But inwardly, you like it because it means someone has noticed how darn hard you work. A lot of Type As are the Martha Stewart type, says stress-reduction expert Melissa Heisler. "We learn to be hyperaware perfectionists." Whether you're prepping homemade treats (from scratch, of course) for the next bake sale at your kids' school or throwing the perfect themed dinner party for your friends and family, you're always on top of your game. But just like anything else in life, too much of a good thing can still be a bad thing. Once you've planned that dinner party, sit down and make sure you actually enjoy it.

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9. Your Motto Is: “If You Want Something Done Right, Do It Yourself”

Sure, you could delegate a task to someone else, but when it comes to doing something correctly -- and on time -- you prefer to handle it yourself. While this means that Type A people are usually incredibly efficient at getting a lot done, doing too much can take its toll. "We think everything is our responsibility, and thus, within our control to affect," says stress-reduction expert Melissa Heisler. "We fear if we don't take care of everything there will be horrible consequences." So Heisler tells her clients to try an experiment: Stop doing. Just for a little bit (and on something without an urgent deadline). Or delegate a smaller task. You'll see that the world doesn't end just because you didn't handle something personally.

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What Do YOU Think?

Are you a Type A person? Which of these traits do you most closely identify with? Which ones do you differ from? Are there any others that you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments section below!

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