Happy New Year! 

We are well into 2019 so now is a good time to reflect on your goals and / or resolutions for this year. 

Have you already achieved what you set out?

For those who have, have a think about what your motivation was like when you started. Were your goals supported by an action plan? Were you hopeful that your plan would work? Or did your achievement simply come down to wishful thinking?

Studies have found that the difference between people, who are committed to and achieve their goals, and those that don’t, comes down to their levels of hope.

One of the most well-known researchers in this space, Synder (1995), defines hope as the process of thinking about your goals, along with the motivation toward those goals and the ways to achieve them.

Hope has cognitive (thinking), emotive (feeling) and behavioural (doing) elements. It can sustain happiness and is about knowing what you want, thinking of a range of ways to get there and being motivated to start and keep going.

Although they may be interpreted by some as similar, there is a clear distinction between wishing and hoping. Hopeful people set clear goals, which is critical for achievement, whereas wishful people expect things to happen. A hopeful person knows roadblocks are a part of life and will be persistent in the face of challenges, which relates to a growth mindset (Popovic, 2005). People with a growth mindset are optimistic and hopeful about the future.

In addition to helping you achieve your goals, studies have proved that hopeful adults:

  • perform better at work (Peterson & Byron, 2008)
  • have higher levels of psychological wellbeing (Gallagher & Lopez, 2009) and positive emotions
  • enjoy better levels of physical health (Synder et al., 2000)
  • develop stronger relationships (Synder, 1994)
  • live longer (Stern, Dhanda & Hazuda, 2001).

So given these benefits, how can we cultivate more hope?

Researchers suggest that hope comes from your energy and excitement about what’s next (Synder, 2000).

This is why defining and planning for your goals is so important, as well as anticipating how you can overcome any roadblocks.

If you want to know how hopeful you are, you can take this quiz.

For more detail on hope, you can read Martin Seligman’s autobiography “The Hope Circuit”.

And what’s more, hope is contagious so you should surround yourself with hopeful people so you can be ignited by their stories of achievements and setbacks!