It’s tough sometimes to justify not spending whatever extra money you have on indulgences when you could be investing it in your own business or project/s instead. Your future is exactly that – the future, out there in Somedayland where fantasies and antigravity suits exist. That fast food lunch is now, and that new cd or download is now, and… well, you get the idea. In all of this are our thoughts about how we’re going to get ourselves into the life we’ve been dreaming of. But when our faith wavers, it all seems so far away. And once we start thinking about how far away it seems, all the things we’ve tried in the past that haven’t worked out come around for attention too, and before we know it, we’ve diverted our energy and time away from our desires and into the immediate present where this current idea suddenly doesn’t look so promising either. Stopped in our tracks by the fear that the life we want might never come, we give up and ask why we even bother.
If you look at the history of nations, companies, groups of any kind at all, you’ll see this pattern repeat over and over again. Sooner or later there comes a time when even the most successful of them forget what got them there, and they start thinking only of what’s five minutes ahead of them. There are many reasons for this, but one of them is quite simply faith. Both a lack of faith and too much of it can cause the same effect for two totally opposite reasons.
Lack of Faith
When we don’t believe that we’ll ever really be able to live the life of our dreams, a number of things happen. It starts with a loss of focus. Where once we honed in on our ambitions and acted as though we absolutely knew that they would be realized, now we are easily distracted by more temporary temptations. So without us even noticing, we begin accepting that state as normal. And because we accept it, that automatically means that we don’t feel that we really need our dreams to come true anymore. It’s true that we don’t need our ambitions to be realized before we’re happy, because an unhappy person won’t be any happier when they’re a thousand dollars richer or two pounds thinner than they are now, but the loss of focus and drive means that we lose the things we would have gained along the way towards our dreams – the experiences, the friendships, the good times we knew would come had we accomplished our goals.
What we do next sometimes only makes the problem worse – we look for evidence to support our faith. We look for signs that all this effort we’ve been putting in has been worth it. Is our bank account any healthier, or are we? Do we have a wider network to draw from, is our influence any greater, are our skills any sharper? Have we lost any weight? Are we, in one word, better?
Asking this on a day when we’ve just paid a lot of money for car repairs or eaten two desserts after a huge dinner isn’t the smartest strategy. And the fact is, there is always somewhere to put your money other than into your fledgling enterprise that’s one day going to pave the way for your dreams. Therefore, many times we don’t even see these temptations for what they are – something that takes away from our dream. This in turn means we lose faith because we don’t see the evidence that what we’re doing is working. So we allow even more temptations and distractions to erode our discipline, and we lose more faith as a result, and the cycle continues.
So far we’ve only been discussing what happens when we lose faith, but the flip side of that is an overzealous approach that disregards any enjoyment of the present because it is sacrificed in the name of the future and ignores the reality in the present. And the problem with the future, of course, is that it’s always in the future. It’s equally dangerous to live on faith. Too much faith minimizes our actions by casting them in a light that renders them ineffective – we feel that nothing we do will alter the course of our advancement and success so it doesn’t matter what we do. Obviously this is ineffective, for a goal achieved is the result of action. And we can only take action now. We can’t do it in the future because the future only exists as a concept. In this way, having faith that everything will work out just fine means that we might as well do nothing at all. But we know that’s never going to get us where we want to be either.
You don’t need faith (but it sure is nice)
Faith is rendered completely unnecessary when you do what’s required to reach your goal. You don’t need to believe that your dream will come true, you just need to do what’s required to get there, and it will come. As long as you behave accordingly, the energy and time you devote to your diet, business, blog, service, or whatever, will pay off. But even that is difficult to understand without an illustration of how this works.
Nature relies on this concept. Nature would not exist at all if it didn’t simply go ahead and do whatever’s necessary to live and reproduce or propagate. Plants and animals don’t need faith because they just do what needs to be done. They have to do it this way, as they have no options. They can’t clutter up their actions with self-indulgent analysis, they just go ahead and grow. Have you ever seen grass or a plant growing up through a crack in the sidewalk? That required no faith at all; it just went ahead and grew there.
I’m a poet at heart, so seeing life in unlikely and harsh places stirs the romantic in me. I love to think about how the hardy little plant tries its best and struggles in adversity to overcome the risks of being driven over or tread on, but the fact is, that’s called anthropomorphism, a long word meaning humans ascribing human characteristics to a non-human entity. I love plants, trees, animals, I even love rocks. And when I’m surrounded by the beauty of nature I do absolutely treasure it. But I have respect for it because it understands the Question better than most people do.
Asking the Question on a daily basis sets you on a path that doesn’t even need faith in order for you to succeed. Faith ends up being a wonderful addition to your daily thoughts, but it isn’t necessary. Faith, with or without evidence, becomes something you can think about in your spare time if you like, but you’ll notice that it does nothing to bring you any closer to your ideal life. You either act according to what the Question teaches you, or you don’t. Either way is okay, but at least by using the Question you’ll know both where you are and where you want to go. That means you can never get lost.
If you assume that your success is coming from your faith, I would urge you to examine what is actually bringing you closer to the life of your dreams. Faith is nice, and it helps warm our hearts when things are tough, but taking action towards our goals is the only thing that actually gets us there. Using faith to keep you focused is great, but it’s been your actions that have brought results.
Either way, whether you’ve given up and lack faith or have found yourself coasting on all sizzle and no steak, it’s nice to know that simply learning and using the Question provides all you need.