Whether you're an actor in Hollywood climbing the ladder for your big break or are a rising star in the business world, you're sure to learn one truth about success: "It's lonely at the top." While it may seem cliché, the fact is that successful people in any arena have increased challenges than "regular folks." Between family and friends treating you differently to your own potentially self-destructive behaviors, success for many is bittersweet. Following are some of the more common perils of success and the solutions to overcome them so you can enjoy the success you deserve.
- Family and friends treat you differently.
The more successful people get, the fewer friends and family members they seem to have because of jealousy and competition. In fact, for those who are on the rise professionally, the biggest obstacle is often dealing with the responses of others. All of sudden people view and treat you differently, and they act out against you. You get a sense that your once close friends and family members are now intimidated by you and they feel uncomfortable around you. While this technically is really their problem and not yours, their actions push you away. You're essentially left with two choices: either you go on your path without your friends and family, or you retreat to your former level of success where everyone but you is happy. Neither option feels very good.
Those who are rising stars have enormous pressure on them. After years of hard work you're finally getting recognized -- you're getting parts in movies and on TV, or you're advancing in your company. At that point, many people feel the seeds of fear and self-doubt creep in. They suddenly think they're not worthy of success. That's when they turn to drugs, drinking and heavy partying in an attempt to squelch the negative feelings from rising. This, of course, is the path to destruction.
Once you make it and have attained some level of success, fortune, or fame, you need to be aware of the guilt demon. Yes, some people actually feel guilty about their success, which is when they start self-sabotaging their efforts. They start showing up late to the set or to the office, they neglect to memorize their lines or finish their tasks, and they slack off to the point that those in charge notice and take serious offense. This kind of behavior is like going to school, doing all your homework and projects, but then not showing up for the final exam. You're essentially throwing away all the hard work you've done.
- Make peace with yourself.
No matter how others are treating you, you need to remember that you're not responsible for other people's feelings. While you should be sensitive to what people are feeling, ultimately you need to continue being you and embarking on your chosen path. Stay on course if that's your dream. People around you may have some emotional explosions, but don't worry about that or take them on as your problem. Their feelings and problems are theirs, not yours -- so don't make them yours.
If you're feeling doubtful of yourself, take the steps to reaffirm your talents and ground yourself in the reality of today. For example, you could do positive affirmations or visualization exercises every day. Or, you could find other successful people and model them. Another option is to watch documentaries of those who have fallen so you can clearly see what you don't want to end up like.
If you feel you need some help handling your increasing or newfound success, see a therapist or join a support group. Alternatively, you can find a group of people at your same success level and hang out with them more so than people below or ahead of you. Those ahead of you don't need to put in as much time and energy because they're already successful, while those below you may have a tendency to pull you down to their level.
Religious or spiritual beliefs can also help give you direction and comfort. Additionally, engage in some activity that forces you to slow down, do some self-reflection, and really think about your life and what you want. Journaling is a great way to express your feelings and sort them out in a non-threatening way.
As much as you're working and doing something you enjoy, you still need something that takes your mind off of work. It could be hiking, painting, reading (not business books or scripts), knitting, sports, weekend traveling... basically anything you enjoy that is not work related. Take some time for whatever your soul yearns for, as that's the only way to stay true to yourself.
The bottom line is that as your success is rising, you need to believe in yourself. If you don't believe in yourself, then at least trust in yourself -- trust that you'll make the right decisions at the right time and trust that events will work out in your favor. Remember that you're never called to do something you're not capable of doing. So always give everything you pursue all your effort. Don't quit when you finally get your chance, and don't let guilt derail your efforts. You deserve success -- so go for it and enjoy every moment of your journey.