Dr Bev Smallwood

To Get Ahead, Take a Leap of Faith

"Go wash your hands, George," his mom instructed.

"Why?" five-year-old George whined.

"Because you have germs on them, and dinner is ready."

George headed down the hall, mumbling under his breath. "Germs and Jesus, germs and Jesus...that's all I ever hear, and I haven't ever seen either one of them!"

A true story taken from KidSpiration: Out of the Mouths of Babes...co-authored by Judy Denson and me.

The ability to take "leaps of faith" and the willingness to believe and act on "things not seen" form the foundation for some of the most important experiences in life. For example, having a vision for the future and moving toward goals...these are possible only when we open our hearts to believe. But it's not always easy.

I remember when I opened my psychological clinic in 1984. (Has it really been twenty years?) I knew in my deepest soul that I was called to work with people, helping to bring out the best in them, even when their circumstances were at their worst. I was a single mom with a house note and a car note. I was leaving a salaried position to take on significant overhead with no guarantee of anything. But I knew in my heart that it was what I was supposed to do. I was scared and confident at the same time. Scared when I looked at the cold facts of my circumstances. Confident, though, because I could "see" beyond it to what would be accomplished. Willing to act because I trusted God that as I moved, unseen doors would open. And they did.

What dream do you have that you have been postponing until...? Have you stayed in a bad situation way too long because you've feared the unknown? How long have you been on the fence with a critical decision? (I recently read this quote: "The only advantage to sitting on the fence is that you have a great view of life passing by.")Are you struggling with a loss of hope and feeling paralyzed? Just maybe what you need is an infusion of faith...the divinely-inspired ability to clearly visualize the positive possibilities before they happen, and then to take action with a solid confidence that you've seen reality.

Five Ways to Give Yourself a Faith-Lift

1. Realize that there are no risk-free steps of progress. A turtle only gets ahead when he sticks his neck out, and it's the same with his human counterparts. There are always trade-offs and risks. Question is, if you can achieve what you dream, will it be worth it?

2. Avoid analysis paralysis. Analysis paralysis happens when you become obsessed with having every single piece of data before you are willing to move forward. Certainly it's wise to be reasonably informed. However, if you get stuck in information overload, you'll stall indefinitely. Let faith be the bridge over which you travel the uncertain terrain toward your goal.

3. Think optimistically, then pessimistically, then optimistically. This may seem like a strange sequence, but allow me to explain.

First, envision the positive outcome you want to achieve. Clearly picture it, believing that it is possible.

Next, think pessimistically! Yes, that's what I said. (But don't be like the woman I heard about who wore a medical bracelet that said, "In case of accident, I'm not surprised!") Without getting bogged down in it or letting pessimism become a habit, consider, "What's the worst that could happen, and what could I do if it did?" Though the difficulties you encounter will probably not be these worst ones, this mental exercise helps you prepare for whatever may occur. Again I caution, don't get stuck here!

Third, move back to optimism. Remind yourself of the strength you have available for this process. Think about your past successes in overcoming hurdles. Imagine how it will feel when the goal is achieved.

4. Get your ducks in a row without quacking up. Prepare to take action, making realistic plans for the time and energies you will commit. Access the support of encouraging friends and mentors. Prepare, but don't procrastinate...always "getting ready to get ready" to take the leap.

Just do it

Nike had it right. There comes a time when you just do it. You take action in the direction of your goals, armed with a spiritual confidence if not a human certainty. You take a step, which leads to another and another.

St. Augustine said, "Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe."

Dr. Bev Smallwood is a psychologist and professional speaker who is the author of “This Wasn’t Supposed to Happen to Me.” Visit her website, www.DrBevSmallwood.com; or contact Bev at 601.264.0890 or by email, Bev@DrBevSmallwood.com. Also connect with Bev on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and her blogs, Shrink Rap and New Morning Devotionals.

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