How “success” almost destroyed me

Success is a catalyst for failure.
—Greg McKeown

This is a fact that I knew even before it happened to me.

I once read this first from a gospel.

It’s a shame but I forgot the exact words or the citation, but it goes something like this…

When you’re not emotionally, mentally, psychologically, physically, or even financially prepared for the success that’s about to come your way, it could destroy you.

This is why lotto winners lose all their millions in a span of months.

Or why young stars get lost and go down the dark path after they reached “celebrity” status.

Or why freelancers who reach their highest income ceiling ever goes downhill from there.

I knew this stuff happens so I was wary of avoiding this, but unfortunately it happened to me too.

See, I was promoted to Marketing Manager of a SaaS Company 5 years after contributing notable wins as their email drip copywriter, blog content writer, and customer success engineer.

Yes, I played many hats.

The CEO was already preparing and testing me for more than a year before he broke the good news to me.

Of course, this little freelancer Filipino who has no marketing or writing background whatsoever was so overjoyed and grateful and a little proud so I took the role.

But more than a year after, the same CEO that hired and promoted me fired me out of the blue one fine day in September.

I knew it was coming so when I heard the news, I was kind of relieved but sad… happy because I’m free, but terribly scared and excited to start my new journey.

It was complicated.

But I knew one of the reasons why is because I wasn’t effing ready.

I had 30% systems in place.

I really don’t know who to hire.
I had no idea how to handle people and delegate.

I joined Dave Gerhardt’s Paid Community using my own money to learn all these, but it was a little too late.

I could write a whole new post of the things I did wrong there!

And not only was I failing at work, we were a mess at home.

I was always tense because of all the deliverables.

I didn’t have time for my son or my husband or my dog. He died. 🙁

I was in meetings ALL DAY long I didn’t have time for me.

And all of it happened in the middle of the pandemic so you know the stress that everybody was in.

I was miserable, I always felt angry and mad in the meetings that I started to voice out my opinions. My husband always told me how it seems like I let them talk over me during the meetings.

I was tired of not being able to execute my strategies because it was hard to get decisions, the checking was exaggerated and even uncalled for. I also hated the way everyone seems to know better than me, saying my copy is bad or we should do this or that.

But hey, we’re in marketing and this is the norm when you’re a marketer.

Thanks for articulating this, Liz Willits.

Funny, but what you thought as your most prestigious moments in your career could be your worse months, too.

I had to take day offs abruptly because I just couldn’t think and I am overwhelmed with the tasks and the thought of facing them in 4-hour long calls drained me.

This is the start of me discovering the Calm app. Life-changer.

Worse, when I tell my husband about it, he would tell me it’s normal when you get to the top. Managers get angry and shout “fuck” and “you don’t know what you’re doing” and walk out on each other. I got used to it and believed it was the truth because I’ve heard the same things when I was still an engineer in the semiconductor industry.

I was also mad at him for not taking my side, for pushing me to say my mind (I say this, but how can you say this when your colleagues don’t get marketing at all?). And he wanted me to stay because that job was giving us 6-figure months.

(I get it why people with mental health issues don’t get the support that they need. Nobody understands and people just dismiss it as normal and that we should just get through it.)

One night, my heart pumped so hard for a few minutes I had to sit and see if I needed to wake my husband to go to the hospital.

I couldn’t take the toxicity. I developed anxiety during those months.

So yes, I was also happy to be fired that day.

And so were my co-workers who also felt the strain and stress of working with the team.

I know they were also great at what they do (so it’s kinda unfair why we got fired), but you know what we were all happy that we were.

We were only staying for the CEO who was so good to us. (We ended it well, I mean the CEO.)

So yeah, that’s how “success” almost ruined me, my sanity, and my marriage.

They also thought that my side ventures (my steak business) was the root cause of me not performing well.

But I tell you, it’s not.



On top of handling our steak business, the flower business and our SaaS copywriting agency.

It’s not whether you have the time to handle everything…

It’s always, do you have the ENERGY to handle everything?

(FYI I still sleep 6-9 hours a day.)

As I look back, being with that team for 5 years just prepared me for my next chapter.

Now, I’m systems-first freelancer.
I hire slow. I make sure that everyone I work with would only help, not drain me our the team.
I am a tough leader with radical candor and can now speak my mind (although I have to work on my patience, I become a monster when I’m working with people who aren’t on the same wavelength as me. Haha.)

And I can now paint, exercise (working on my abs haha), and play with my son whenever I want to.

Although I can be slow and cautious at times…

I know my lessons. I don’t want to fall back into that kind of lifestyle… That’s why I take things slow.

As Reece Robertson said in a similar blog,

Because beyond mountains, there will always more mountains. You’re not going to be able to stay where you are for too long. You’ll either fall down the same way you’ve come up or move on to bigger and greater heights.

The question is: Which will you choose?

“Before you ever reach a goal, already have the next mountain or two in mind.” — Benjamin P. Hardy

Now, I am preparing myself for my next success.

Because I don’t want to climb another ladder of success to simply fall back down.

You might also love reading these posts:
- “Success is a catalyst for failure.”
- The clarity paradox — why success is a catalyst for failure
- If You’re Not Careful, Success Will Destroy You

4 responses

  1. Something about the title really called out to me. Thanks for sharing this because I’m at this point in my life where I’m taking a break because of stress that came from “success” also. I realize now that there is just a time and space for everything and sometimes realizing that you’re not ready for something leads to breakthroughs.

    1. Hi Anna!

      I’m glad this spoke to you. And yes, I read and replied to your comment a little over a year later. Lol. I kinda abandoned this blog, but I’m back! 🙂

      Wondering how things are for you now.

  2. […] And that’s what I took away from reading Aiza’s blog. […]

  3. I don’t think the title of your article matches the content lol. Just kidding, mainly because I had some doubts after reading the article.

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