You won’t believe what one of the most insidious success killers is…

Nick      Sunday, July 3, 2016

Share this page with a friend

Success, wealth and happiness. These are the three things that most ambitious people strive for, and actually most people in general.

But why do so few people actually do the work that needs to be done in order to reach their goals?

You would never guess it, but it’s an insidious little thing that we carry around within us.

It’s something that pretty much no one talks about.

In over 20 years of studying personal development and successful people I have only rarely seen it mentioned, and have never seen it delved into.

So what is this elusive and evil thing? Let me tell you with a short story.

Mary is a single mom with a 10 year old daughter.

She works during the day while her daughter is at school, but wants to go back to college because she never finished after she got pregnant. You could say that she is procrastinating on it, but there is something behind the procrastination.

Procrastination is always just a symptom and never the root cause.

So what is holding Mary back?

Well when she isn’t working, she tries to cook dinner most nights and keep the house clean and the clothes washed. She also needs to spend time with her daughter and take her to the different events, friend’s houses and everything else.

Mary has very little time to relax or for herself.

She knows that she could use some of the little time she does have to keep things up on the house more, and her daughter is also becoming more independent and needing her less and yet she is still holding back.

So what is still holding her back?


She feels guilty if the house is messy, or dinner isn’t made or she doesn’t spend enough time with her daughter. She feels that by taking the time to get her degree, which will open up better jobs for her and more opportunities for her and her daughter, that will also make her a worse mom because she’s not doing everything she is “supposed to”.

The truth is though that everything would be fine, even with the time she would need to spend taking the courses necessary to finish her degree.

Yes, the house would be messy.

Yes, she may not get to spend as much time with her child.

Yes, some people might look down on her for the state of things there.

But the difference that could be made by getting her degree in their overall lifestyle could be huge.

Most situations in our lives are more possible than we think they are, but our guilt and sense of obligation can keep us from doing what we need to do.

While Mary would work 16 hours a day to keep a roof over her and her daughter’s head and food on the table, she won’t consider working 8 hours a day and spending just a couple more hours a day doing school work because she’d feel like she was taking that time away from her daughter or her duties to her daughter.

What kind of sense does that make?

The really insidious thing about guilt though is that we don’t even realize that it’s there most of the time.

We just simply go about our every day lives and that little voice in the back of our head fans the flames of our guilt to keep us in our existing seemingly safe situation.

So how do you overcome guilt?

The same way that you do fear, look at it directly.

Examine what it is you are feeling guilty about and see if you are actually doing anything wrong (most of us aren’t).

If you analyze your situation and realize that, while it might be tough, things would be better at the end, then do it.

Guilt may never fully go away as it’s something that is hard-wired into us by our society. But you can lessen it and have it not be a paralyzing force anymore.

Just see it for what it is and take action. Realize that you are making things better and that it is really worth it.

You can also use your guilt to help you ensure that you are only doing the actual productive things instead of the busy work that some people get trapped in when trying to achieve their goals.

For example, actually doing the online research you would need to do to write a paper rather than just surfing the web.

Either way, you can make the choice that guilt cannot control you. And while it can be similar to fear, it is a different creature and you need to be aware of it.

So what do you feel guilty about?

What sense of obligation are you feeling that when you look at it, you realize doesn’t have to be there?

Feel free to answer in the comments below.


This presentation contains images that were used under a Creative Commons License. Click here to see the full list of images and attributions:


Hi! I'm Nick!

I've worked in both IT and Sales over the past 20 years and have had to study human psychology and personal development to help with both.  As a manager, I've used these skills to help grow my team from what I've learned myself and helping others to grow over my time in these two professions.  Now I'm here to help you!