[This post was inspired by a fantastic article a student sent to me recently on Business Insider. You can read it here.]
When my students start out on their proofreading journeys, quite literally every single one of them wants to be successful. I’ve never met or chatted with a student who didn’t want to be able to make money proofreading after they complete the course.
[I have met a couple folks who wanted success without working for it, but that’s a different post for another day!]
Tough Lessons I’ve Learned About Success
There are tons of resources all over the web about achieving success, the habits of successful people, but not so much about what happens once you achieve it — things like what you should do, not do, and how you can deal with other people’s reactions to your success.
So that is precisely today’s topic!
But first … what happens once we reach success?
For one, you change as an individual. Your beliefs about what you used to think was possible shatter into a million pieces. In many cases, you become a totally different person, having seen yourself achieve things you previously believed to be unachievable.
Maybe you thought you’d always be chained to a desk or a location-dependent job — and you took a leap of faith to learn something new. Now you’re a trained proofreader traveling abroad, doing your own thing, yet still perfectly capable to deliver top quality to your clients back in the States. And now you know you can literally do anything you want in life.
I have some news for you: sometimes, people will HATE you for your success.
Some people won’t understand how you were able to skip all the guesswork and stumbling to achieve your successes — they’ll assume you didn’t need to do any work at all, because how else would you have achieved it? It couldn’t possibly be by being diligent and studious for several months or investing in proven training with an experienced industry professional. You simply must have cheated somehow.
Some people hate me, too. Other “professionals” in this industry — who don’t even know me in the slightest — have slammed me, my business (this website), and my success with it, to the point where I’ve considered taking legal action.
Why do they choose to slam me? My guess is they just don’t understand what I’m doing or how I’m doing it, so their knee-jerk reaction is that it’s unfair and I’m cheating somehow — and cheating other people.
It’s also easy to ridicule and slam someone when they feel they’re getting the short end of the stick. Perhaps the thought has crossed their minds: Why didn’t I think of that? No matter what they say, the truth is this: I’m doing something super positive with my life by not just doing work I love, but I’m also sharing it with others who want to learn. That positivity is having a ripple effect! Other people are starting their own businesses doing something they love — and they’re finding success, too.
It’s dealing with that newfound success that can sometimes throw us for a loop. So I’m going to share with you the three tough lessons I’ve learned about success (and my students are learning also) — as a proofreader, a business owner, and my favorite: a human being.
Lesson 1: You gotta ignore the haters … and keep succeeding.
I’m not talking about ignoring the kind of people who take time to actually help you with constructive criticism, here. I’m talking about haters.
Be prepared to hear the meanest things about yourself imaginable. They’re coming.
But those haters? They’re totally powerless. Sure, they can spread nasty rumors. So what? The rumors that’ve been spread about me are just that, rumors. Any true professional worth their weight in salt will take the time to investigate those rumors and see just how off-base they are. People are naturally jealous and/or suspicious when you achieve success, whether you achieve it as a proofreader, a businessperson of some kind, or both.
These people will never admit it, but they’re not critics. They’re not voicing opinions. They’re internet trolls.
I firmly believe in standing up for yourself. But then — move on. Trust me, you’ll never get trolls to agree with you (there’s a reason trolls live under bridges). They’re never going to stop spewing garbage all of a sudden and apologize for being nasty. So don’t waste your energy. Trolls thrive on other people’s energy — they need it somehow. Instead, use that energy to continue succeeding.
Continue being positive. Continue living an excellent life — one you’re truly proud of.
Lesson 2: Stay humble in your success.
Fight the urge to be cocky and arrogant. That urge will come, believe me — especially in the faces of folks who’ve grown to resent you for your achievements.
I’ve had the urge to raise my hand to those people and say something like, “Well, how many clients do you have?” as a reminder that financially, I am doing better than them, or say something you might find in one of those snarky Willy Wonka memes. But I don’t. Chances are they already know I’m doing better anyway, and that’s the whole reason they made their comment in the first place.
Everyone gets the urge. You’ll get the urge, too.
It might not come from a “classic” internet troll. Maybe a family member who still works a regular job they hate will make a snide remark about how lame it is you have to read for a living (Woe is me, I know :-)).
Maybe you put in your notice at a regular job and a coworker makes a comment in passing about how they knew someone who “did the same thing” and “ended up bankrupt” … those people are everywhere, and that urge will come where you just want to slam ’em just as hard as they’re slamming you.
Don’t do it! Remember where you came from. I will never forget where I was — a struggling personal trainer who had no idea it was even possible to work as a full-time proofreader. Then I met my mentor, and well, it took a few years, but my life changed forever. Now it’s time to pay it forward.
Lesson 3: Keep working for your continued success.
It actually does take work to find success — a whole heck of a lot of it — and it never stops.
At least it shouldn’t.
A big mistake people make when they find success is they become stagnant. This can happen as a result of the thought arriving that you’ve “made it” and you can finally (finally!) kick back, relax, and sip martinis all day. And you know what? Sometimes I do that. When you achieve success — whatever that looks like for you — you should absolutely take some time to enjoy the fruits and martinis of your labor. All work and no play makes proofreaders frazzled, tired, boring people!
The problem arises when you kick back and sip martinis all day, every day. You can lose sight of why you sought your success in the first place. Your memory can fade as to who you were before you got to where you are now. Always remember that person you were before you became the “you” you are now.
Set new goals as you continue your journey. You’ll need more confidence, an even stronger motivation, and yep — you’ll need to do more work.
Doing more work, after all, is the best way to keep succeeding.
These are the tough lessons I’ve learned about success… Got a story to share? Post below!