Recently I was having a conversation with a new client who was describing how he lived continually with a knot in the pit of his stomach as he fought and struggled to fulfill his life goals. In the course of the conversation he described that a few years earlier he had experienced an “aha! moment” when he ran across an interview article with Dan Rather in Esquire magazine.

That article made a tremendous impact on his state of mind, creating dramatic changes in his business and personal life. Rather was quoted as saying: “It comes down to TR: time remaining. When you’re in your thirties or forties or even your fifties, time remaining can seem like infinity. TR hits different people at different stages. But you get to your seventies and you’re thinking about TR. Exactly how do I want to spend my remaining days?”

My client was in his early fifties and resonated so deeply with this article by Rather and its question about how you would want to spend your remaining days that he quit his job, got a divorce, and committed the rest of his life to pursuing the success he had always hoped he would achieve. He had been living with the tyranny of the urgent for many years to become a success in his chosen field, but now with this new thought of TR he went into complete overdrive to make it happen. The thought of time remaining had him running scared.

Given that it had been a few years since my client had read that article, I asked him if he felt that he was any closer to achieving the success he thought he would accomplish after making all of the changes in his life. He went silent for a moment and then quietly answered, “No.”

I went away from this conversation thinking about it for some time, wondering what held my client back. He was tremendously talented, so talent wasn’t enough. He desperately wanted to achieve success, but desperately wanting success obviously wasn’t enough either.

Then I had my own aha! moment. I had inadvertently answered my own question. He desperately wanted success! He was panic stricken and was actually driving away the success he so desperately wanted. His state of mind was paralyzed by fear. Whatever is not of faith is fear. Desperation is a success repellant! My client was actually repelling success from coming to him. And by the way, panic is a very unhealthy state of mind.

There is an old saying that rings true on this subject, “Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there.” That’s about as simple as it gets. If we apply our faith and trust to a situation, more often than not we find out there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

My client is just like so many other people who are making a mad dash for success, desperately trying to accomplish their goals. Their desperation pushes success further away. This desperation creates something like mental madness as the ego drives them harder and harder out of fear. Fear of not succeeding! The ego is needy! The immature ego has a need to accumulate material things and chalk up accomplishments in order to feel successful. If we don’t see this mental tally board filling up the way we have planned, then panic sets in and the desperate clawing to make something happen overtakes our sanity and our peace of mind. As time passes and we realize we are getting older, there is an increasing desperate drive within that tells us that the time remaining is quickly slipping away and if we are going to make it to the finish line with enough stuff and accomplishments, we are going to have to sacrifice the joy and peace of the journey to make it happen. Wrong! It just isn’t so.

As most people know, the ego is not our True Self but is the earliest stage of our developing personality. We come into the world self-focused. The attention of our mother or primary caregiver is on our individual needs and making sure those needs are met. We are fed, burped, diapered, and changed by others. Someone is always watching out for our needs. It’s all about us! Through maturation and growth we are able to develop our ego from self-absorption into an awareness of our higher purpose and an expanded world-view. This maturation process happens when the ego and the True Self merge into a unified field through a conscious connection to the Spirit within.

So, the concept of TR for the underdeveloped ego is like living with a noose around your neck. If you let go for a moment you are afraid that you will hang yourself by failing to accomplish the goals you set out to accomplish in life. But that feeling is out of the immature ego’s competitive pressure to perform. It is a fear-driven competitive aspect of our personality and not the consciously connected spirit of the heart. It is a little like a rat running on a wheel in a cage, never reaching a final destination, always running faster and faster trying to keep up, but never really getting anywhere. Gandhi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” The rat race for success is never satisfying for more than just a moment, then it is on to the next desperate attempt at finding happiness in other things and with other people.

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” This driving desperation pushes us to achieve, succeed, acquire, and to be loved by someone, but still leaves us dissatisfied because there is always something bigger and better than what we have already. Driven by the ego, this person finds him or herself constantly tiring of all accomplishments and acquisitions. The treadmill never stops. These goals are all fine and good to have but the ego will never be satisfied because it is focused on externals.

I believe success isn’t just about amassing things in life (although I like fine things) or just having a meaningful relationship (something I find very important as well). Success is a bi-product of fulfilling the purposes for which we were born. It is consciously connecting to the internal power within us that takes the pressure of performance off and allows us to fulfill our highest purposes and calling in the most relaxed way. True success is the fulfillment of our passionate purposes and the added benefits of wealth in body, health, relationships, finances, and spirituality.

Author's Bio: 

DR. JUDY ELLISON is a psychologist, research scientist, success coach, published author, and motivational speaker. This article is taken from a copyrighted excerpt from the book Success is a State of Mind and can be used by permission from the author. She can be contacted through her website