Should You Take a Leap of Faith?

June 5th, 2012

By Dr. Jim Taylor

Personal GrowthI’ve been on a bit of a self-help kick in my writing lately. And given the strong response from my last post about regret, I figured I would continue my personal-growth jones and write about another topic that might be of interest to readers.

Living the life you want often means making some big changes in some part of your life, whether career, relationships, location, what have you. Change can sound like a good idea in theory, but, in practice, it’s not always so clear. When you make a change in your life, you might be opening up your own personal Pandora’s Box.

You can never know for sure whether you can actually shift your life in the direction in which you want to go; change is really difficult. Or, if you succeed, whether that change will be what you really want; I’m a big believer in the Theory of Unintended Consequences. No one, not your family, your friends, your psychotherapist, or your psychic, can foresee what will happen to your life if you change it. There is going to be that fear of the unknown; how will you change psychologically and emotionally, and how will your world around you change?

Ultimately, if you really want to change your life, you must take a leap of faith. A great philosopher once said, “You do or you do not. There is no try.” No, it wasn’t Aristotle or Socrates who spoke those simple, yet profound words; the great thinker was … Yoda, the Jedi Master of Star Wars fame (actually, George Lucas, but you get the idea).

I often use an analogy from the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, in which Indiana Jones is in search of the Holy Grail (an appropriate metaphor here, wouldn’t you say?). He is following a map that leads him along a treacherous path toward the Holy Grail. Near the end of his journey, Jones comes to a seemingly bottomless chasm across from which is the doorway to the Holy Grail. There is no apparent bridge across the abyss, yet the map shows a picture of a man stepping into the void and speaks of taking a leap of faith that will enable Jones to traverse the gap. Mustering his courage, Jones takes that leap of faith and finds that there is an invisible bridge that he can walk across to seize the Holy Grail. Against the direst of consequences if he was wrong (plummeting to his death!), Jones had the faith to choose the path that led him to the Holy Grail. Similarly, you must also have the strength of your conviction to take that initial leap of faith to discover your Holy Grail (especially realizing that your worst-case scenario is nothing like that faced by Indiana Jones, though that was just a film, of course).

The leap of faith begins with the conviction that you don’t want to go down the path that your current life has been taking you any longer, that your life just isn’t working for you any longer. The leap of faith continues with, well, faith, that you can change your life. The leap of faith involves having a basic belief in yourself and a fundamental trust in the vision of who, what, and where you want to be in the future. The leap of faith involves the belief that good things will happen when you choose to change your life. Recognize also that some misgivings are a normal part of the process—you can never be 100 percent sure that things will work out the way you want—if you didn’t have doubts, it wouldn’t require a leap of faith.

You should also regularly dream about the new life that you envision and how wonderful it will feel to find that which you seek. The leap of faith will then initiate an positive upward spiral that will transform your leap of faith into a growing confidence that you can and will change your life for the better.

You must also understand that this leap of faith is not blind faith. Rather, you have a lifetime of knowledge and skills that you can marshal to change your life. Hopefully, you also have extensive resources — family, friends and other forms of support — to bolster your efforts.

What part of your life would you like to change? And what leap of faith would be required to make that change a reality? And coming full circle back to my last post, what do you need to do to ensure that you don’t have regrets at the end of your life?

(This article was also posted at Dr. Jim Taylor’s Blog.)

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