Okay, so let’s say you have a family dinner or brunch with friends this weekend… who, without fail, will you be waiting on? Everyone has that one friend who suffers from chronic lateness. Though in their words, it’s “fashionable lateness.” In any case, it seems to be a mystery why some people – you might even be that person – are completely incapable of being punctual.
We understand things come up and plans change – those are exceptions. We’re talking about those chronically late people who never seem to change… to the point where it’s arguably disrespectful, frustrating, annoying, and the list goes on!
If you share that sentiment, you probably won’t be happy about what’s coming next! According to a fair amount of scientific evidence, the very qualities that make someone late are the same ones that might help them be more successful and live longer.
How Being Late Might Actually Increase Your Success and Lifespan
We’re sitting here and scratching our heads thinking the same thing: How on earth is the chronically late person going to be more successful and be healthier or live longer than me? There are four possible explanations for why and here they are…
1) They Live with Less Stress
Chances are you grew up with parents or caregivers who tried to instill proper manners. Maybe you grew up with the belief that if you’re early, you’re on time; if you’re on time, you’re late; if you’re late, well, good luck… But not for the late people!
In fact, not being stressed out all the time by others’ rigid schedules could contribute to a longer life. In October 2015, a study published in Health Affairs explored how harmful workplaces affected life spans. Researchers found that, in some cases, a stressful workplace could shave up to 33 years off your life expectancy.
Typically, living a low-stress life also means you have lower blood pressure which, in turn, leads to lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and other related health problems. Looks like showing up on your own stress-free schedule might come with some powerful, potentially life-saving benefits.
2) Late People Are More Optimistic and Set Unrealistic Expectations
Just like everyone knows a late person, so does everyone know an eternal optimist. Optimistic people – even if they’re not being realistic – will usually fill their days with more things than they can handle. Ideally, you want to set yourself up for success, but that optimistic individual will strive to tackle everything on their to-do list which makes them late to ________. (You name it!)
Author of Never Late Again, Diana DeLonzor, wrote that people who are late are most likely both optimistic and unrealistic. Although it seems like a strange combination, it’s one that seems to work. Harvard Health Publishing even highlighted the fact that “an optimistic outlook early in life can predict better health and a lower rate of death during follow-up periods of 15 to 40 years.” And that statement is backed by study after study.[4,5]
Sure, it’s easy for someone to be optimistic early in life because they haven’t been hit by LIFE yet! Perhaps, but the “salesman study” would disagree. The paper, published in the Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, explored whether salesperson optimism actually made a difference in success. Believe it or not, researchers found that employees who were optimists sold a whopping 88 percent more than those who were pessimists, and attributed their success to have a positive perspective.
3) They Are Perfectionists
We all have different ideas of what “perfect” means, which can make dealing with a perfectionist incredibly challenging. Some might even say impossible… Just compare your to-do lists and, very quickly, you will see how different perfectionists are from the rest of the world – even their tasks have tasks!
Until every minute task is complete, the perfectionist will never be satisfied. If you’re trying to get together with this person, good luck. You may just want to reschedule for next year because unless their responsibilities are carried out perfectly, they are going to be late. Annoying, right?
According to time management specialist and fellow at the American Psychological Association, Dr. Linda Sapadin, “[perfectionism] may be a frustrating trait in a friend, but is a desirable characteristic in an employee and can lead to more successful career.” Makes sense!
4) Chronically Late People Live in Different Time Zones
We don’t just mean geographically, either. People who are always late have different concepts of time that the average person will simply never understand… However, psychologists have tried to figure out what exactly goes through the minds of people who run on different clocks.
Using a sample size of 194 undergraduate students, a study in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology compared two types of personalities in terms of how they perceive time. Generally, type A personalities are more energetic and ambitious whereas type B personalities are creative and relaxed. The study was simple: scientists set a one-minute timer and asked individuals from each group how much time they thought had passed. The average answer for type A’s was 58 seconds and 77 seconds for type B’s.
The 19-second difference between both personality types seems pretty inconsequential. But, we’ve all had experiences where 19 seconds can quickly turn into 19 minutes or more… In terms of success, there’s no saying for sure whether A’s are more successful or healthy than B’s, or vice versa. Like we said, our perspectives of time vary despite all planning our lives with 24-hour windows. It seems like sometimes being late just isn’t’ your fault.
To Be Late, or Not to Be Late: That Is the Question
We’re sure some of you will still be filled with a wave of frustration the next time your chronically late friend shows up, well, late. However, there are definitely some positives to being late every once in a while. Some of you are probably thinking you have a free pass to be late now – that’s not the case. But it is a nice reminder that maybe it could be worthwhile taking life a little bit slower.
 Goh, J., Pfeffer, J., & Zenios, S. (2015, October). Exposure To Harmful Workplace Practices Could Account For Inequality In Life Spans Across Different Demographic Groups. Retrieved from https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2015.0022#ref-2
 Swanson, A. (2015, October 29). Your job is literally killing you. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/a-stressful-workplace-could-take-33-years-off-your-life-expectancy-study-finds-a6713011.html
 WATCH: Science Says People Who Are Always Late Are More Successful and Live Longer. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.southernliving.com/news/science-says-being-late-lead-to-success-longer-life
 Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). Optimism and your health – Harvard Health. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/optimism-and-your-health
 Conversano, C., Rotondo, A., Lensi, E., Vista, O. D., Arpone, F., & Reda, M. A. (2010). Optimism and Its Impact on Mental and Physical Well-Being. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2894461/
 Rich, G. A. (1999, January 01). Salesperson Optimism: Can Sales Managers Enhance It and so What If They Do? Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/40469947?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
 Conte, J. M., Dew, A. F., Schwenneker, H. H., & Romano, D. M. (2001, August). Incremental Validity of Time Urgency and Other Type A Subcomponents in Predicting Behavioral and Health Criteria1. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/247678121_Incremental_Validity_of_Time_Urgency_and_Other_Type_A_Subcomponents_in_Predicting_Behavioral_and_Health_Criteria1