There’s something about achievement that feels really good. Arriving at the right answer. Finishing something. Getting to the next level. If you identify as Type-A, you have felt the drive to continue onward and upward. As soon as you’ve finished something, you’re looking for the next thing. As a result, Type-A folks have the ability to get a lot of stuff done. But the dark side of the Type-A mentality is the tendency not to pause.
What’s so great about pausing? Well, as good as achievement feels, your go-go-go attitude is likely leaving you feeling less fulfilled and happy than you would feel if you took the time to pause. Here’s why:
Pausing gives you a chance to re-evaluate whether you’re chasing the right goals. In his book, The Quarterlife Breakthrough, Adam Poswolsky points out that many professionals suffer from the “career ladder mindset.” The career ladder mindset convinces people that the success is achieved by ascending the ranks within the field you’re in. The problem is, “career ladders define success on someone else’s terms,” not your own. As a result, you may find yourself at a crisis point when you realize that what you’re doing is not aligned with what you really want. Taking periodic pauses in your career to define what success means for you will help you avoid wasting time on a path that isn’t a good fit.
Pausing gives you space to celebrate your accomplishments, without immediately burdening yourself with the next item on the to-do list. I recently complimented a friend on hitting a major milestone on a project. She replied that there was still so much work to do. When you complete something, does your mind immediately go to what’s next? When was the last time you gave yourself permission to fully celebrate a win? Regularly taking time to reflect on what has gone well will make you a happier person. Try instituting a daily celebration routine. If you don’t take time to celebrate now, when will you?
Pausing gives you time to rest and recuperate, so you can dive into your next project energized. As much as you may hate to admit it, you are human, and your human body needs rest in order to function at its best. Whether it’s taking a moment of mindfulness to lower your stress level, or letting yourself sleep so that you can avoid damaging your brain, it’s important to take time off. Don’t wait until your annual vacation (if you even take one!) to give yourself time to unplug. Smaller increments of time spent off the hamster wheel, on a more frequent basis, will enable you to produce more high quality work than burning out will. And as mentioned before, if you’re Type-A, producing high quality work feels good.
I am as guilty as any Type-A of forgetting to hit pause every once in a while. Do you forget to take time to pause, too? Here’s a tip from one Type-A to another: schedule it. Block off time on your calendar, and make it a recurring appointment. Choose to take time to reflect, celebrate, or be present. It’s not a full-stop; it’s just a pause. When you’re done, you can go back to your regularly scheduled achieving.