At the time of writing this blog, 2019 has just started and I have begun a new journal outlying all my goals for the year ready to create lots of new memories.
We all carry memories from past events, hopefully many of those are happy ones we can look back on with some joy and satisfaction. In a TED talk by Shane Lopez he talks about how we are in 3 states of being; past, present, and future and these states determine who we are. Our past achievements show what we can do, our present state is who we are right now, and our future state offers the potential of who we may become. However, when we apply to a school a college or a job, we are judged solely on our past. Did we get the right grades at school? Have we performed well in our previous job? Of course, we don’t yet have the ability to see into the future so its understandable that we are judged on our past endeavours as this is all anyone has to go on. But just how much does this define who we really are, and how helpful is this to us when moving forward?
Creating a memory of the future
What happens when we take our past memories, mix them with who we are now and carry those in to the future to create new memories? By doing this we are experiencing hope. Hope is a place we create for ourselves which is better than the place we are right now or have been before. Hope is the emotion that carries us through difficult and troubled times, and yet it is often one of the most understated and least understood. With hope we can achieve anything, it just depends on how high our level of hope is. There is a direct relationship between our hope and our achievements.
How does hope work?
Try sitting for a moment and not do anything. Unless you are skilled at meditation its unlikely that you will sit and not think of anything. You may sit and think about a past event, but it’s more likely you will think of an event in the future. It may be thinking about what you are having for lunch, or a piece of work that needs to be done, or maybe a happy event you are looking forward to. As far as we know this is something unique to a human, we re the only species we are aware of that constantly thinks in the future. This is because we have evolved to think in a predictive way and as such those thoughts are causal. What we think creates our reality. If we can use those thoughts in a positive way, then we create hope. The lunch you will have will be tasty, the piece of work a masterpiece and the happy event full of joy and laughter.
The 3 elements of hope
According to Snyder’s theory, hope has three distinct elements; a goal, a pathway, and willpower. Once you have established a goal, how are you going to reach it and how badly do you want it? If it is a goal that you desire greatly then often multiple pathways will need to be found. How many times in life have you suffered a setback in something you have wanted to achieve? By trying again, often by a different route, is where the willpower comes in.
It will all come right in the end
A great line from a film when questioned “What if it doesn’t come right in the end” elicited the reply “Then it isn’t the end yet”. That’s the great thing about hope, it doesn’t matter what setbacks you have as long as you have hope you have a purpose. Reaching a goal is less about how easy or hard it is to attain but more about how much you desire that goal and how long you are prepared to wait to finally achieve it. If something is worth having, then its worth waiting for. Think back to all the great things you have achieved and think about the original goal and what you had to do to achieve it. Did it work first time, or did you have setbacks?
As a simple exercise, write down 3 goals that you would like to achieve this year, then look closely at how you will achieve these goals. Is there just one pathway to this goal or are there many routes you can take. Then finally ask yourself just how much you want to achieve these goals, or put another way just how strong is your hope?
I hope all of you who are reading this achieve what you have hoped for.