Leap of Faith
This blog has been reproduced from the article I wrote for SHEROES – an Opportunity Scape for women
Not many of us think what a great accomplishment walking is until we see a toddler take her first steps. Well, so is writing an exam, then. And so is riding a bicycle; that day when you first took your car out on the roads all by yourself; the day you felt you were in love; the day you reported to your first job ever; the day you decided to adopt a pet; the day you decided to end a relationship; the day you decided to switch careers; the day you lost a friend to an argument; the day you stood up to an abusive family member; the day you decided to pick up a hobby you had always dreamt of but knew you had not much talent for¦ we have all done some of these things, never once realizing in that small, isolated, intense moment what a leap of faith it was for us.
Why do we call if a leap of faith? Being an experienced mountain climber, perhaps I can help with a mountain climbing metaphor: Think you are on a tough trek, making your way through a narrow path on the edge of a valley and you are looking down a cliff “ the only way forward being a few metres away, a deep chasm or a spring of ice-cold water in between. You are not sure if your feet will listen to you; not sure if you will land safely; not even sure that it is the right way to go any more than knowing that it is the only way forward. You flinch. And then you decide that it must be done. And you do it. That’s a leap of faith. Whether you graze a knee while landing or twist an ankle, you feel exuberant. You made it on the other side. This is what makes trekking an adventure. And, this is what makes life an adventure too. So many of us seek out an adventure while considering a vacation but feel bogged down by similar challenges in our daily life. We come up against cliffs on the mountain of life all the time; instead of working our hamstrings, we choose to back down, turn away, beginning to doubt the purpose itself.
Besides, it might help perhaps to realize at the outset that for whichever things that fall into the life-changing category, there are no clear-cut answers, no promises, no certainties. On the other hand, there will be questions galore: what if I didn’t take a risk and just stuck with my job for a while maybe I would learn to adjust; what if I don’t make a great parent; what if I lost; what if he/she leaves me; what if I was wrong¦
Well, whenever faced with such a quandary, I always ask myself, what if I never even tried¦? The tricky part is that the stronger our need or desire for a particular outcome, the greater is the fear or doubt, notwithstanding our proven abilities, strengths, or qualifications required to accomplish it. As with mountain climbing and with life, it only boils down to managing our fears.
If you find yourself staring down one such cliff, here’s what you can do:
1) There are no certainties: What if you jumped and things didn’t turn out the way you want them to? Then again, what if you stayed and things suddenly changed for the better or otherwise? Life changing decisions are perhaps less about mathematical probability and more about our convictions. No guarantees, no certainties but for the lessons we are to learn.
2) Look around, do you truly like what you see? Prepare to make a few tradeoffs for achieving things that you value. But in the end, if that tradeoff makes you feel spent, miserable, used, it is probably not worth all that.
3) Understand your priorities: There is no such thing as a free lunch. For most of us quality family time means cutting down on travel for work or get-togethers with friends; that high-profile job might exact its price through a long commute on a daily basis. Moreover, you can’t please everyone. Understand and evaluate where you stand currently and how far would you like to change things, what price are you willing to pay. Be it in terms of convenience, effort, money, status, relationships, time, etc.
4) Find out what is holding you back: It is not unusual to let certain experiences get a debilitating hold on your life. Identify them and work them out. Seek closure and see how they are affecting your life. Talk, share, communicate with people you trust. We often do not realize how strongly naysayers influence us. Do have one around you? Assert yourself, and tell them to back off and keep their views to themselves if you absolutely must.
5) Trust your vision: Finally, trust yourself. This is your life. Achievements or mistakes, joy or disappointment, you are the one who will bear all that comes your way the most “ not your partner, not your family, not your community. If you trust your goals, and your capabilities, don’t let doubts smother your dreams.