I am, for better or for worse, very Type A. I was joking with a friend that he was Type-Lower-Case-A and I was Type-Upper-Case-A. He then added that it was more like upper case, and bold, and italicized… and possibly with an exclamation point at the end too.
In a lot of ways, I’m glad I’m this way because I think it’s why I can get so much stuff done. Sometimes I’m envious of people who seemingly breeze through life. I always wonder how they get things done without being crazy controlling, but I guess that’s one of the greatest mysteries of life for me, haha.
While I’ve gotten significantly better about not being that controlling in my life, it’s not something that comes naturally to me. I constantly have to work on letting things slide and going with the flow. My first reaction to any situation is to start a to-do list– taking a step back and (gulp) letting things just happen is not easy for me.
The thing though is that feeling like I need to be in control all the time is exhausting and frustrating even for me. (I wish I could let go sometimes!) And it’s 10x worse for everyone around me, so I do my best to put my need to be in control aside! Just because I’d like to know exactly what’s happening at every minute, it doesn’t mean that everyone else should be subjected to that as well.
I think the first time when I really had to address the control issue head on was after college. All the way through school, being Type A was always a perk. My homework was never late, I knew when the tests were, and I had my schedule mapped out perfectly. Starting a job though is when I realized that being Type A could be a problem. Of course, there were many benefits still, but I didn’t want to (and frankly couldn’t afford to) be that brand new employee asking my boss for more guidelines every two seconds. Long gone were the days of spelled out syllabuses and super precise essay instructions.
It does take practice, but I love that I can use my Type-A-ness when it’s a good thing and flip the switch off (or rather dim it down?) when I need to. It’s better for everyone!
But would I be Type A if I didn’t have a strategy for going with the flow? Here’s how I do it:
ONE // Control what you can control
This sounds completely counterintuitive, but hear me out. Whenever I feel the most out of control, whether deliberately or not, I try to focus on what I can control. This doesn’t mean going into list-making mode or trying to put things into order. Instead, I remind myself that the best thing I can control is my attitude. I prioritize that over everything else.
Traveling and your plane is delayed? You absolutely can’t control that (and don’t bother as we’ve seen in viral videos as of late 😳), but you can control your anger. Remind yourself that everything is going to work out and that focusing on what you can’t control, like a mechanical error or overbooking situation, won’t change anything. But at least you can be in a good mood while sitting in the airport! Treat yourself to a new magazine, get a giant burger and fries at one of the sit-down restaurants, whip out your computer and get a leg up on some work.
Has your office turned into a hostile working environment? There’s not much you can do about office politics, restructuring, or just poor management. You can control how you deal with it though. You can let it eat you up, or you can choose to rise above it.
There is something oh-so-satisfying for anyone (Type A or Type Z) to know that only you can control your attitude. It’s the first thing I reach for, metaphorically speaking when I’m in a situation where I feel out of control.
TWO // Volunteer to do something
So this whole thing is about how to go with the flow. Not, how to take over and drive everyone insane with a to-do list and a minute-by-minute schedule. But when the going starts to get rough, and you feel like you just can’t go with the ~flow~ for another five minutes… volunteer to do something productive and helpful. I would say that 80% of the time, this is me volunteering to get food or coffee for everyone else. Snacks and coffee go a LONG way.
Whenever I start to feel people dragging, either in a work environment or while traveling with friends, low blood sugar is almost always to blame. Or lack of caffeine. Or both.
Getting out of a slow-paced environment and having a task, however small, to complete always makes me feel better. (I sound insane typing this out, but I know there are other Type As out there who know exactly what I mean!!) And once the food and coffee hit everyone’s’ systems, the creative juices start to flow again and the energy levels rise.
THREE // Breeeeeeeathe
Someone wrote me at length about how breathing was not going to help anyone after I mentioned it once in a post. While I can’t speak for everyone, breathing exercises have been an incredible self-management tool for me. I hated it at the beginning, but once you figure out a routine that works for you, you can start to really get the hang of controlling your breath and ultimately getting your whole self back into control. Don’t underestimate the power of the breath! Controlled breathing is something everyone should learn.
My favorite is the 5-5-5 where you breathe in for five seconds, hold for five seconds, and release for five seconds. In a very short time, I feel calmer. Now that I’m better with the exercises, I can almost get a euphoric feeling of calmness really, which makes going with the flow feel second nature! It’s like tricking myself right out of my Type A-ness. It doesn’t hurt to throw in some mantras if you have any favorites.
FOUR // I think the final key with going with the flow is to “fake it ’til you make it.” At the very least here, you’re not going to drive everyone you’re with crazy with your micromanaging. I just remind myself over and over again, that everything is going to be okay in the end. It doesn’t matter if things aren’t the most efficient. It’s never that big of an issue when things don’t go as planned.
Do you have any tips to share?! Anyone else out there struggle to go with the flow? Or any Type-B-ers want to chime in with their secrets?!!?!