I often read articles and blogs that have direct relevance to our work as health and wellness coaches and I find it a really growth-promoting exercise to make notes on how a different model fits with our work with clients.
The topic of “Hope” really struck me as highly topical at a time when many people – if not feeling hopeless – are struggling with the challenges that lie ahead – be they financial, emotional (inability to visit loved ones), or physical (yes, many, many people have been touched by Covid-19)!
We have also seen some shocking scenes of anarchism – looting, rioting and terrible violence and of course this is what will appear on our screens each evening because BAD NEWS gets attention. What the presenters often fail to show are the numerous acts of kindness and support that are given when times are at their toughest. I was gratified to read that research actually shows us that when disaster strikes, altruism is the rule – not selfishness! High five to the human race! Apparently kindness and cooperation win out.
Now there’s a reason for hope!
So, in order to feel more hopeful, what do we have to do? Well, what we can’t do is sit around and wish for things to be better. We need to take action. And create a plan. Sound familiar? Eric Barker talks about “scientific” hope.
So first let’s define it. Here’s one definition.
“ Hope is the sum of perceived capabilities to produce routes to desired goals, along with the perceived motivation to use those routes.” (Snyder, 2000)
People with high hope tend to have a lot of performance-based goals that are moderately difficult to achieve. Interesting. How does that fit with how we encourage our clients to go about their change journey? Surely we want them to succeed. Yes however, with the The research shows that with our goals, we want a 50% chance of success. Now by goals here, we are not referring to behavioural goals. We are talking about outcome goals. Human nature responds better to a mix of failure and success. Hence, BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goals). If we always succeed there is no sense of excitement and achievement; when we fail constantly we become disheartened. A mix is good!
Agency (this is where motivation comes in)
This the sense that we can start and continue along the journey towards the desired outcome. But make sure that outcome is accurately described – somewhere. Does this sound familiar? A bit like creating a vision and having a strong sense of self-efficacy? It did to me too. And not surprisingly, using your strengths to work towards meaningful goals is essential.
Having a Plan
We then need the “resourcefulness” to create plans and recover from setbacks. Anticipating problems, breaking down the steps into a plan and being able to be flexible enough to come up with a new plan when you need one are all crucial skills. Also visualisation. We often talk about that with habit formation, but when we think about the journey we have to go on, it is better to imagine the middle section instead of the end. That’s where it can get tough and that’s where the power of our mind comes in. The beginning is exciting and the end is a celebration. The middle is the tricky part.
Also remember – If the plan fails,– it was the plan that was bad – not you. Then create a new one!
How is HOPE different from OPTIMISM? I know many of you will have been pondering that question. There is a difference. Optimism at times can be directionless. Hope involves action. And it involves us coming together to support each other and get through this time.
We will and come out the other side stronger and wiser.
Stay safe and hopeful.
Barker, E. (2020) Barking up the Wrong tree
Snyder, C.R. (2000) Handbook of Hope: Theory, Measures, and Applications.