You know how everybody says to “keep your head up” when things get tough?
I don’t buy it. At least not when it comes to business or personal growth.
Because you know what happens when I keep my head up? I see what everybody else is doing. And when I see what everybody else is doing, I begin to doubt myself. I question myself.
And I spend a lot of time not doing what I should be doing to get where I want to be.
When I see Sally Freckleface is making progress, getting clients, and changing her life… it makes me envious and sometimes a little depressed. Never mind the fact that she’s probably 2,817 steps ahead of me in her journey and started quite some time ago… I still get overwhelmed with the work ahead of me that I have to do to be even remotely close to where Sally is right now.
I ask questions: Is all the work worth it? Can I really do this? Can I really become this?
I start writing all kinds of stories in my mind about Sally, her journey, and myself. Oh, I’ll never be able to compete with Sally. Sally probably just got lucky… that only happens once in a lifetime, not to people like me.
Sometimes I go into a Facebook group and post something about how nervous I am about starting, finishing, or just trying X, Y, and/or Z. I ask for other people’s opinions and advice, believing they’ll be the ones to take me with them in some way, or say some magic words that’ll make me a little less scared or make the journey easier somehow.
I’ll then spend three or four hours of my day sitting on Facebook, in a fog of weird anxiety, watching my notifications to see how other people respond to my post. Sometimes they won’t say what I need to hear, which can discourage me; other times, they’ll temporarily mask my fear and make me feel invincible. If they can do it, so can I!
Their responses change my emotions — how I feel about what I need to do — but they don’t get any of it done. I essentially spent four valuable hours of my time trying to make myself feel better.
But… but… but… I need answers. I need support! I need motivation! I justify it by calling it research. I’ll say just about anything to myself to justify the time spent… to justify WHY I’m not just doing the work.
All the time I spend worrying, fretting, wondering, and posing question after question — that won’t have an answer specific to me until I get out of my comfort zone and DO SOMETHING — is time I spent not doing anything.
Not getting anywhere.
Just like yesterday and several days last week (!!).
I’ve fooled myself many times into thinking all this stalling is just research; I’m just “doing my due diligence”… but in reality I’m procrastinating. I’m afraid of what will happen if I just get out there and do the thing. And I don’t even realize the more time I spend scared and inactive, the longer it’s going to take me to achieve my goals. That’s the real scary part!
Have you been there with me?
It’s okay; we all have. I tell you this very personal story because, despite my own success in business, hardly a day goes by where I don’t find myself scrolling through my Facebook feed, yet again, to see a Sally Freckleface broadcasting her success… it sends my self-confidence plummeting, and it sends my self-doubt soaring.
The same questions bubble up: Is all the work worth it? Can I really do this? Can I really become this?
Many times I’ve let myself just stew in the bad feelings, prolonging the procrastination day after day. Thank goodness I recognized what I was doing to myself.
I’ve gotten to the point now where I just don’t scroll through Facebook to see what everyone else is up to.
I don’t bother “checking out the competition.”
I ignore pretty much everyone most of the time. I’m not going to base my potential for success on someone else’s effort. My success depends entirely on MY effort.
So I just
scribble neatly write out my goals, and I tackle them one at a time (or one step at a time, if it’s a big’un!). I know if I spend time on Facebook or too much time snooping around on other people’s businesses, I’ll spend less time making progress on the home front. I know what I need to do, and I don’t need to know what everyone else is doing in order to do it.
It’s not that I don’t like other people or don’t want them to succeed — quite the opposite. But when I’ve already got a clear path to success and already know what I should be doing, the stuff somebody else is doing is just a distraction.
plum plumb out of ideas, I’ll go looking for more, but until then, my head is down.
Ignoring everyone else.
Doin’ the work.
Been there? Holler at me in the comments!
Man alive, this really resonated with me. I’ve been plagued by self-doubt lately and I think I’ve probably spent more time looking for advice and encouragement than actually working on action items. I needed to read this today! Thanks!
Glad to be of assistance, Jessica!! 🙂 It’s funny how much we tend to look for advice when we already know exactly what to do!! 😀
Great article! I literally just posted asking for encouragement and advice yesterday because of my lack of confidence to commit and fear of failure after taking a step of faith. No one can make decisions for me. I just need to move forward!
Awesome. You know you better than they do!! 😀
This is exactly what I needed to hear this week. It’s confirmation of what I’ve already been thinking! As much as I love the Facebook groups you’ve created for those of us who have gone through the course, I’ve realized that I need to pay less attention to them for a while so that I stop comparing myself to what others are doing and just do what I need to do to run my business! Not that I’m going to disappear from the groups completely because — let’s face it — it’s an amazing group of people! 🙂
I know, right!? I get more done when I just stay out. One day a week I’ll spend a few hours in there, but that’s it. We gotta set boundaries!
I actually just shut down my Facebook because of this problem! I spent way too much time looking at others and feeling down about myself. When in reality usually people are struggling just the same but only put the best parts of themselves out there lol (myself included). I just keep telling myself if I ignore all the distractions and focus on what I need to do, there’s no way that I can fail!!
You are SO right about that! That is how successful people think. 🙂
Great advice!! We all know this but need to be reminded of it anyway!
And Sally Freckleface… too funny!
Right?! We all need these great reminders now and again! 🙂
YES. I compare myself to YOU all the time, and I have convinced myself that you are simply one of those superwomen out there (usually younger than I) whose achievements I could never, ever match. So then I just have to remind myself that we don’t necessarily have the same goals, I am not trying to build a 7-figure business, nor am I wired to be a super high-achiever. There will always be someone who is more successful, smarter, richer, has a nicer car, better hair, better everything. Self-acceptance is the way. The only way.
This was such a great read. Although I now have my business established, I still experience moments of self-doubt. It’s usually when I compare myself to someone who has been in the game for much longer than I have. Those kinds of comparisons can really bring you down. As you said, checking out the competition isn’t always helpful! My time is better spent nurturing and growing my own business.
I completely agree, Katy! The comparison game does nothing for us. Good luck with your business! 🙂
Great article. It’s pretty funny when someone once told me to “keep your chin up”.
All I could think about was WHY? especially when I need to keep it down and concentrate.
That’s so true! We need to keep our chin down and get to work! 🙂
Yup! Needed to hear this today. I have been fighting this war with myself for several weeks now. Do I leave FB alone and get stuff done for myself or do I continue to cheer everyone else on? I still am wondering which one of me will win. I hope it will be my success choosing side!
I struggle with that too, Sue! Facebook can get distracting, and at times it’s best to turn off those notifications and concentrate on your work. 🙂
Spot on! Great post 🙂
So glad you enjoyed it, Victoria! 🙂
Absolutely, comparison can be so depressing! Occasionally it can be motivational, but I think you’re right that it’s more often a dangerous distraction.
It really is depressing. We start looking at our shortcomings, and then we lose motivation to keep going. 🙁
Occasionally it can be motivational.
We must be aware of our own mindset & what it us that draws us in. If I need to hear stories to encourage n spur me on, then that's what I'm going to do. If I'm just putting off the inevitable, then I need to recognize it & redirect my focus where it is most effective!
Frankly, this article AND the comments herein have been VERY encouraging to me. It's ok to be at whatever point one is at, BUT discovering where & when procrastination is the villain is crucial to moving forward.
Exactly. What one small thing can you do to move forward every day, even when you really don’t feel like it?! Any progress is better than no progress.
THE FOLLOWING IS FROM A FB GROUP I STUMBLED UPON RECENTLY.
HEADING: Just write. Stop judging it. Just get it out. That’s it for now. That is what you need to do.
POST: One of my college professors used to say "anything worth doing is worth doing poorly". I didn't understand that for years because I didn't do anything poorly; I couldn't do anything poorly – I had to do everything perfectly.
But when that 2 minutes seems exhausting, brushing your teeth for 30 seconds is better than not brushing them at all! Doing 10 minutes of yoga is better than 10 minutes of sitting when 30 minutes of cardio sounds impossible.
Changing my clothes is good when a whole shower is otherwise impossible. Standing on the porch for a few minutes is worth it after being in the house for three straight days because I don't have the energy to go anywhere.
Anything worth doing is worth 'doing poorly' because doing it poorly is better than not doing it.
I LOVE IT! Clearly a PERCEPTION, but that's what our actions are often based on so….. USE it to an advantage! Right? 😝
Been there I believe I have spent most my life there. I 'm getting it though, thanks to the encouragement you have included in this course.
Definitely been right there with you. When I first started freelance writing, I was there all the time – mostly scrolling through Pinterest then – to see other people’s successes. And now that I’ve started a blog fairly recently, I’m there on Facebook scouring for “help.”
I’ve changed my mindset about it all very recently. I’m doing the 80-20 rule, but I’m doing it opposite of what most people do. Most people spend 20% of their time writing or working on whatever craft it is they do and 80% of their time marketing it and on other business tasks. I’m doing the opposite – devoting 80% of my time to my craft, and 20% to the business side of things. It’s been working out pretty well.
Now about the only time I use social media is when I’m looking for 2nd opinions on something very specific. Like “which photo do you think would go better” or “Which turn of phrase sounds better for such and such situation” and I leave it at that. No more getting lost in the social media whirlwind.
That’s wonderful, Tessy! Thank you for sharing! I’m going to try that. 🙂
…and the next time you post all my business on one of your blogs, the least you can do is give a gal a heads-up! lol
Right?! This post really spoke to me too! How does Caitlin do that?! 🙂
I totally get it Caitlin. There is a certain course I am supposed to be working on and I see all the success stories. Many people are doing so well and at the same time I see many people who are saying the course is so hard and demanding. That is a good thing though as it makes the people actually learn something. I do not think it serves anyone to just let people slide through. Yet when I read the stories of how hard the course is I just tell myself I will get started tomorrow as if maybe I will be more ready then. I know I am smart. I know I have the skills to get it done. I have the Eagle Eye. I studied English at USC. I can build websites and market myself. I hate working for The Man. I have another secret weapon I can unleash when I finish the course. So what am I waiting for? Time to put my head down and stopping worrying about what the others think or say. Time to just do this!
Wow! Yeah, you totally have what it takes! 🙂
Thanks for the reminder. It is tremendous to know I am not the only person with those crazy thoughts of comparison. Thanks for the post.Starting new careers are always hard. and will take planning and one step at a time. Thanks needed the encouragement
I am definitely in that area of fear right now. Your article spoke to me in a personal way. Only difference is I stay off Facebook. I would love to get others feedback and inspirational quotes. But like you Caitlin, I could lose myself for hours worrying, doubting and craving that one comment that will solve every insecurity I have about the success I want so bad I can taste it. I am my worst enemy when it comes to self doubt and getting out of my comfort zone. But I am pushing myself to continue. I will get success, with the help of your course. Thanks for your inspiring story.
I needed to read this right now. I literally just wrote a Twitter thread on this exact topic, being frozen by other people’s successes. Thanks, Caitlin.
So glad you enjoyed the post! We know what we should do, but it’s always great to have these motivational reminders. 🙂
I have a trick I use when I find myself comparing. I remember that the only person I’m allowed to compare myself to is myself. Am I, personally, better than yesterday or last year or the previous decade? Why, yes I am! And how did I, personally, get from there to here? Now? Aahhh. Right. I kept moving and improving myself. Not someone else. Just me.
ABSOLUTELY!!!! I just had this same conversation with another budding entrepreneur. I research and research and then I hoard all the information I collect. Then I drown in all of the conflicting information and get stuck on where to start. me. Being still, stagnate or whatever only prolongs me getting started and encourages my doubts/fears. I know by nature, I don’t do well in the gray areas of life. I like a template, outline or a play book to help me along. Logically, I know that what works for one may not work for me. I will never know until I step out there. Mistakes are necessary for success. If I don’t make them, how will I know where I need to make improvements or if I have made improvements!!
This is such an issue for me! I have difficulty shutting it down and start to over-research everything. It’s frustrating and such a waste of time!
It can definitely be both a blessing and a curse to have so much information at your fingertips. Make sure your research doesn’t prevent you from taking action! 🙂
Great read! and complete truth, I needed that reminder, Thanks
Glad you enjoyed it! It’s definitely a good reminder for ALL of us. 🙂
Wow – definitely a mind shift. I appreciate your rigorous honesty. Trolling FB for useful information is so time consuming and random. But I wish I had one fellow student as a pen pal for mutual support, still! Can we find out if folks live in our same state? Anyways…
If you’re enrolled in one of the courses, make sure you’re taking advantage of the PA Proofreaders Facebook group. You can definitely reach out to your fellow students there and likely find someone who lives in your state! 🙂
I’m working my way through Module 4 and would love to joint the PA Proofreaders Facebook group. I tried the icon within the program, with no luck.
Could you provide me with a link, please?! I sent a support ticket too, no answer.
Thanks a bunch,
I am so sorry to hear that you’re having such issues getting in the group! An email was just sent to you with directions on how to get into the group. Make sure to search in all your tabs in Gmail as well as the spam folder. Let us know if you don’t get it! 🙂
Wonderful tip today, Caitlyn. I really needed it – yesterday. lol. I had noticed my tendency to stray when I felt overwhelmed with my goals – so I stopped looking at FB, and will only log in after my work is done for the day – if that means I don’t log in then so be it.
There are a great number of support communities on FB – including yours of course. But I was spending my time going from one writing one to yours to a motivational one – and that’s as bad as just scrolling my news feed, right? lol. Giving myself parameters will enable me to focus on my goals – to be a proofreader, author, copywriter. My goals are not lofty to me – they are attainable. But not without work and focus. Thus no FB during work time. 🙂
Have a fabulous day all!
This is exactly what I needed today! I’m starting to compare my work to others; but really, my life isn’t theirs. As long as I’m making progress, I don’t need to worry about anyone else’s.
Hi Caitlin! You ask if I’ve been there with you…I’m there right now!😢
Having trouble getting turned back around, it’s taking way longer than I’d hoped. Thanks for your help in these emails.
I finally made the transition from the commute to contract work-from-home. My next goal is to detach myself from the pseudo certainty of paycheck to paycheck living. A mindset adjustment is what the doctor ordered. I applaud your article.
Thanks, Vicki!! I am excited for you. You hit it on the head with the term, “pseudo certainty” 🙂
I tell myself positive affirmations and that I can do it!
YES! You can!
We’re told to “keep our chin up” which covers our mental motivation. You’re really saying “keep your nose too the grindstone” which means just work, work, work! All that work could one day lead to money for a nose job! I’m needing new teeth, and I plan to get them with transcript proofreading!
I've quit looking at both instagram and Facebook, and recently scrolled through one of them to see someone succeeding at their own business and started questioning myself. Thank you for the reminder and practical advice!
The main thing that has stuck so far when I start procrastinating is "just show up today and keep showing up".
Thanks again for the road you've paved for me and so many others!
Social media is a crazy world! Showing up is just as difficult as not showing up, too, right?!
I absolutely love this! I’ve definitely kept my head up and compared my start with everyone’s successes instead of putting my head down and doing the work.
Now that I’m aware, I’ve noticed it’s a lot easier to get back to my own steps that will lead to MY own success!
Thank you, Caitlin!
I'm there right now! The struggle is real — thanks for sharing and letting everyone know that no one is alone in it 🙂
Been there only for moments. I feel uncomfortable there for too long. Once I realize where I am, I can shift to "Well, Yes I can". All of these examples, motivating experiences and shared times are very encouraging. I spend a few minutes on Facebook while reading other students’ experiences and then it's off to the books. This is the first class, in this venue, that I can relate to one hundred percent. Now I will proofread this message using some specific lessons I have retained.
Love this so much! I have been procrastinating for way too long now. Thank you so much for this Caitlin.
You’re welcome, Judy!! I’m so glad it was helpful for you!
Self worth, and confidence is hard work,but when achieved, it is the greatest gift. Awesome read. Practice/study what you love and success will prevail.
I loved the part about "keeping your chin up." I've always thought that if I do that, I'm going to trip over something. It's better to focus on what I am doing and move forward. By keeping your chin up, you can't see where your feet are, and you might miss important steps while you focus on what others are doing.
Beautifully said! Yes! This was very helpful. Thank you!
I'm mad at myself! I should have finished this course long ago! Procrastination is the thief of time! Giving myself a deadline of the end of April!
THANK YOU!! Thank you!! thank you!!!!!
This has been me for …I’m not going to say how long! But it is TIME TO STOP it and get on with it!!!
I am so appreciative of your transparency and willingness to keep it in pain and simple! From your experience!!! Thank you again. I’m on it!!
I needed to read this today. Upon purchasing the course, I've been reading posts on PA General Proofreaders and have been thinking oh my-what have I done? Can I actually do this? This brought me back to center, so thank you for this! I've got this 🙂
spoke to me today, how do you do that? My husband asked me if I had been doing the modules for my proof reading. I immediately got defensive, asked why he kept asking me that, and he responded by saying, "you spent the money to do it, so do it" He is right, but I don't need him to guilt me. Trying to commit to 2 hours per day, just do it. Thank you.
This was wonderful, hitting me right where I’m at. I spend WAY too much time on Instagram, giving others encouragement when I need to spend this time helping myself. Your course is amazing, so glad I’m a part of this wonderful course!
It took me a couple of weeks to finally decide to look at your advertisement; I was unsecure, not of the course, but of myself. I kept seeing other people progress, continue life as if nothing happened and finally that is what woke me up. I have to stop comparing myself to others, I'm responsible for ME. No one else, me.
This is so true. At my previous job I kept my head down and did my work, and didn't worry about or listen to anyone else.
I loved this post. I always thought the success of others was meant to motivate me but it never does. It makes me anxious and feeds my self-doubt, just as you say. To make matters worse I don't only go down that dark street but I also feel guilty about feeling that way. What a waste of my precious time. No more!
This is exactly what I needed to get me jump started! There are a lot of us out there who have doubted ourselves and wondered if we can really apply ourselves. Also, spend the money, not knowing if we can succeed. I will give it all I've got to be a success!
This is exactly how I've been feeling (AND what I've been doing i.e., procrastinating) so thank you for posting this. It's good to be reminded that actually it's about doing one's OWN work. It can be hard at times tho for exactly the reasons you list. Other people seem so much further ahead and what's worse is that so many are younger than me. If only I'd started 20 years ago. On and on it goes and it can be SUCH a negative spiral. And all the time MORE time is passing.
This article resonated with me today! I spent the last couple of days procrastinating and finding things to do as a means of escape instead of activating movement toward my goals and continuing the process of what learning what I need to know as a proofreader.
You are making me giggle because my mother used to ask me why I couldn't be like my friends when she wanted me to do some thing but when I wanted to do something my friends were doing that she didn't approve of [of which she didn't approve] she would say "do you have to do everything your friends are doing?" So there is a question, does the question mark go inside the quotation marks or outside?
I understand the paralysis that comes from being afraid to start any project because of the insecurity of not knowing if it will succeed. My background is in theatre costuming, often being the main designer/construction person on a show, so the volume of work is frequently mind-boggling. It is the fear of starting the ball rolling that stops it happening until, often the last minute – causing still more stress and anxiety. Just taking that first step is the problem.
I definitely understand this, I have done the same. Get off Facebook and go back to what will make me be successful. We all have days where we all feel like we are not being successful.
Put aside all the distractions and focus on the task that will take us to our own success.
I remember many of these "distractions" that I used when working on my dissertation. It would take an hour of more to "get in the groove." I can see where it would be better to jump right in and work on the task at hand.
Thank you, I needed this, too. I was successful in my career and know persistence and determination were key. My problem now is my thinking that at my advanced age I might launch another career, one closer to my heart. So, I will let my doggedly terrier-like personality come back out and move forward.
Again, thank you. I needed this. 🙂
Just wanted to say that this was exactly how I was feeling yesterday (and the day before, and the day before, etc. 😅).
Thank you so much for this post, Caitlin ☀️
Hope you're doing well where you are 😊
(And yes, I'm an emoji fiend sometimes!)
Remembering to remember this is the key. 🤔😎
I just purchased your course, because I do have confidence in my ability to be a proofreader, as I was a master, in Business English, in college.
The part I struggle with and have for 50 years, is the self-limiting beliefs. I know this and still, I have a terrible fear of failure.
First of all, my English skills have deteriorated over the years. I use an extension called Grammarly to keep my writing up to par.
Secondly, I'm 57 years old and feel like it might be too late for me to get anything substantial started.
Having said all that, I want to thank you for this course because proofreading is something I've thought of many times over the years, and you seem to be just the motivator I need.
This is a self-paced course so please take your time! It’s not a race! You’ll have nothing to fear as far as your proofreading skills are concerned if you study and practice everything the course teaches. With practice comes accuracy which in turn builds your speed. And don’t forget about your Facebook student support group! The group is there to help you with your questions about grammar and punctuation, and if you need some extra practice, you can write to [email protected] and ask for Additional Resources to study and practice. We have a long list of websites and workbooks to help you master the rules of English! We’re hear if you need us!😉
Yes! Exactly! The demon of “comparatitis” always seems to creep in and make up stories. I appreciate how you structured your story above. It truly resonates with me. Now just beginning this journey, being privy to the wisdom of experience is appreciated!
Please contact me asap. I paid for the course on April 11, I have tried to be incontact with you or 10 times since then fit have been VE RY unsuccessful. I want to take the course, HELP please
Please contact our PA Support Team at [email protected] and they will be happy to help you!
I also want to start but my confidence level is low and everyone is saying to investment.
thank you for sending me this. I also want to do proof read anywhere
If you have questions about our proofreading course, please write to us at [email protected] and a member of our PA Support Team will be happy to help you!