Hopelessness is one of the greatest challenges in my work to help people build happier lives. Hopelessness leads to powerlessness. And powerlessness (the inability to affect change in our lives) leaves us desperate and sad.
And as Brene’ Brown says in The Gifts of Imperfection:
So how to you become more hopeful when things look bleak? Here are the four characteristics required to be hopeful. Lets look at ways you can tap into each of them:
Hopeful people set realistic goals
When was the last time you set a clear, measurable, realistic goal? So many of us focus on the problems in our lives rather than imagining what we actually want and setting a clear and specific goal to help us get there. What do you really want? Be as clear and specific as possible.
Hopeful people are willing to figure out a plan
Sometimes we all get stuck in the muck (I always think of this super sad scene from The Neverending Story when I say that) and it’s hard to get the energy together to find a way out. But the only way out is to take action. What small step can you make to keep moving today? What simple task can you get out of the way today to move in the direction of your dreams?
Hopeful people have and use their ability to be flexible and change or adapt plans along the way
Things are going to change and grow as you move toward your goal. Breathe and be ready to adapt your plans along the way. I find it helpful to get a group of strong supporters around me who can help brainstorm new action plans when things get tricky along the way.
Hopeful people believe in themselves
It can be hard to believe you can make your dreams happen- all kinds of messages will tell you otherwise on your path. Start believe in yourself today by writing a list of your prior accomplishments. These can be big or small, try the list below for starters. I add to my list every day and I draw from it when I start to question myself or my progress.
I bought a house
I gave birth
I ran a 5k – even though it was slow
I got out of bed today when I would have rather stayed in and cried
I called a friend when I was scared to try something new
Hopeful people value persistence and hard work
This is the biggest one, because all of us lose steam sometimes. It is good to take a rest (and that can help you on your journey too) but just being hopeful will not bring your final goals any closer. Hope for them, believe in you, and keep moving. Taking action regularly and consistently is the surest way to reach your dreams. If you didn’t make it to the gym this morning, get there later today or tomorrow. If you missed a deadline apologize and make up your work. Find a way to keep going, keep moving, in the direction of your dreams.
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