Psychology research findings around what constitutes hope suggest that setting goals that are intrinsically motivating AND finding a pathway towards achieving them are hope's key components.
To put simply, being clear about what we want and being able to picture a pathway towards getting there are hope's important ingredients.
Other helpful variables
Other helpful variables that help to facilitate an experience of hope are:
Stating goals in a positive way, emphasizing what we would like to draw towards vs away from (e.g. making friends or deepening friendships vs not feeling lonely; eating healthy vs losing weight); and the more specific you can make your goals, the better!
Feeling in control
Setting positive, specific goals that relate to something we intrinsically value helps us to experience a sense of "control" and increases our well-being.
We usually feel better about our ability to cope and about ourselves when we also strive to incorporate goals/plans based on what we value into our lives vs how we feel in the moment.
Small can be powerful
Even goals that seem very small, like starting the day with a healthy breakfast, getting up half hour earlier for some meditation or prayer time, or drinking one more cup of water, can have a big impact. What seems like a small degree of change can translate into many miles (and make a huge difference to our inner experience).
This time of the year can bring about an experience of loss of hope for many people, as they start to experience disappointment around newly broken New Years’ Resolutions.
“What happened to the goals I was so passionate about? Maybe I don’t have a strong enough will” is a thought that can at times cross their minds.
Research found that when we have a goal but not a clear pathway that guides us towards it, it is very easy to lose one’s motivation if another emotional experience overrides our passion towards our goal; such as a touch of unexpected stress that catches us off guard and sends us spinning into our more automatic, well-trotted pathways.
I hope that this year you will discover and create many new pathways that lead you closer to fulfilling your unique purpose and the goals that expand your emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.
"I will either find a way or make one." Hannibal
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."
Hebrews 11:1 | NIV
"I never view mistakes as failures. They are simply opportunities to find out what doesn't work." Thomas A. Edison
"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up." Thomas A. Edison
Cheavens, J., Feldman, D., Woodward, J. and Snyder, C. (2006). Hope in Cognitive Psychotherapies: On Working With Client Strengths. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 20(2), pp.135-145.