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Can You Turn Hope Into Reality?

Can You Turn Hope Into Reality?

BY Michelle McQuaid

When it comes to what you want to accomplish in the months ahead at work are you clear on what your hoping for? I ask because while research suggests eighty-nine per cent of us believe the future will be better than the present, only fifty per cent of us believe we can make it so.

And yet studies show only when we hold both of these beliefs can we ignite enough hope to move us from where we are to where we want to be.

So are you just wishing for success at work or are you truly hoping for it? And what difference does it really make when it comes to your results?

What Are You Hoping For?

Professor Rick Snyder and his colleagues found hope not only lifts your spirits, it buoys your energy, makes life seem worthwhile and changes your day-to-day behaviour.

The work of your head and your heart, hope happens when your rational self meets your emotional self in the three following elements:

  • Firstly you can clearly conceptualize your “want to” – rather than your “have to” – goals. We call this ‘goal thinking.’ It’s all about knowing where you’re hoping to go.
  • Secondly, you can develop specific strategies to reach those goals to make your hopes a reality. Scientists call this ‘pathways thinking,’ but you could just think of it as way power. What’s the way forward to reach your goals?
  • Finally, you can initiate and sustain the motivation for using those strategies to reach your hopes. Because we know it’s one thing to have a goal and a plan to reach it, but another thing to persevere in the face of all the obstacles that come along.  Scientists call this ‘agency thinking,’ or you might just think of it as willpower. How are you going to have the will to make your way possible and achieve your goals?

When it comes to our work, researchers have found hope plays a central role in driving persistence, motivation, goal setting and innovation.   In fact, other things being equal, a meta-analysis has found hope leads to a 14% bump in productivity because it makes us feel more engaged and enthusiastic about our work.  To put that into context, it means hope is worth about an hour a day for most of us, and if your days are anything like mine that sounds worth hoping for!

So what can you do to make it a little easier – especially in a difficult environment – to keep moving towards your hopes?  In this episode of Chelle McQuaid TV I’ll show you the easy way to map your hopes and start making them a reality.

How To Map Your Hopes

One of my favorite approaches to igniting hope was created by Dr Shane Lopez and it’s called a Hope Map.

Simply take a piece of paper and place it horizontally on your desk. Then fold it into three sections and open it up once more.

On the far right third of the page write the heading “Goals”. Then note down below a goal you’re hoping to achieve. For example, one of my goals is to joyfully complete my PhD by the end of 2014.

Then on the far left third of the page write the heading “Pathways”. Try to note down at least three different pathways you’ll need to initiate to reach your goal and make your hopes a reality.  For example, mine include i) completing the analysis of my research, ii) drafting the results and iii) writing the rest of my thesis.

Then in the middle third of the page write the heading “Obstacles”. Try to note down at least one obstacle for each of the pathways you’ve identified that may thwart your hopes.  One of the things researchers have uncovered about achieving our goals is we’re more likely to succeed when we plan for possible obstacles at the outset.  For example, when it comes to completing the analysis of my research the biggest obstacle I face at the moment is being too scared to start. When it comes to drafting the results the obstacle is spending too much time lost in the details. And when it comes to writing the rest of my thesis the obstacle is finding the time to start.

Finally around the edges of your page note down what you can do to maintain your motivation and will power to complete the pathways, achieve your goal and realize your hopes. How will you make the journey enjoyable? Which strengths can you use? Who will encourage you? How will you measure your progress? For example, mine might include using my strengths of curiosity to get the analysis underway.  Committing to deadlines for my supervisor to deliver key parts of my thesis. And for every 25 pages completed a massage to remove the knots from my shoulders.

Once your map is complete and your hopes are clear and you’re ready to get on with it.

Given the research suggests no other workplace measure – including job satisfaction, company commitment and confidence to do the job – counts more than hope in determining whether you’ll show up, it seems worth a few minutes to invest your time in.

You can watch Shane talk about how hope impacts our performance here or grab his book “Making Hope Happen”.

What are you hoping for?

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