I think hope is a big deal.
If I feel low on hope then I make it a priority to find a way to get some. This post shows you how to always have some hope by changing your perspective during tough times. You have the right to have hope, life is too short to live without it!!
I’ll use the below definition of hope as the basis for this post and relate it to what I see in my coaching conversations and then suggest some ways to create and maintain hope.
Hope is defined as:
“the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best”
How to find hope
Hope is a feeling and not an intellectual understanding; meaning that I cannot convince you logically that you have hope, but can only help you to see your current circumstances in such a way that you feel hopeful. Prior to having been coached most people think that a coach provides ideas and prompts you to think about solutions. This is true BUT only after work has been done to ensure you see your reality in a wider context (the bigger picture). From this more expansive perspective the coach and client co-create hope by visioning an ideal future state underpinned with pragmatic actions (life experiments).
So my advice is to not try to logically force yourself into a hopeful situation but use logic to shift your perspective so that you can see the bigger picture at play and view your current circumstance as part of something bigger. This is much, much easier said then done when you are on your own. Having a coach as an objective and skilled facilitator of this process makes it a much easier action to undertake. Nonetheless I encourage you to pull your thoughts out of the current drama and take a longer term perspective about where you are going… (in 5 years will this matter?). To do this you must re-connect to your “why bother” or life meaning. Short term dramas can either be endured or moved through only when you know where it is that you are heading. Take some time to consider your end game and then relate it back to where you are and what you are experiencing. THIS WILL CREATE HOPE. If your end game doesn’t provide you with hope and energy when you re-connect back to it then your end game needs changing. If you don’t have an end game then this may be the cause of your hopelessness (why are you living?).
The other thing I play with when coaching is “letting go”. What needs to be let go of in order to make room for something new in your life; hope does need space You want to continue to make a large income but also want more time with friends, children or to explore not-for-profit work. Most of the time we cannot have it all and tradeoffs need to be made. The metaphor I use with clients is to imagine emptying their house of all the furniture and then consider exactly what you want to put back in, what is to be thrown out (let go of) and what new furniture you want to introduce to your house. So if you are struggling to make things happen and find hope maybe consider what you need to stop doing or let go of to make room for hope.
There is hope in both success and failure
The above heading is the mindset I try to instil in my clients. I read the second part of the hope definition to say…sure, have a goal (what is wanted can be had), BUT if it does not turn out as planned, take it as the universe giving you some useful feedback that you can use to move toward what’s right for you at any point in time (events will turn out for the best). In fact I encourage clients to take their goals as a premise that requires testing and validation. In other words you think that if you undertake action A, that result B will be achieved. I help clients test these premises and adjust their goals/plans as they start to narrow down and focus in on exactly where they belong in work/life.
My advice is to see life as one big experiment where you are testing your truths, beliefs and presumptions about what it is you should be doing with your life. Take “bad” days as feedback telling you something. Look for patterns of bad days that show you’re not listening to what the universe is trying to tell you (sometimes it has to shout for you to listen). If you have a big goal you feel strongly about, make sure you (as soon as is practical) test the underlying assumptions. For example if you think doing an MBA will get you some career advancement, go talk to others in your industry or recruiters to test this assumption. Get data to see if you have created false hope.
Authentic and hopeful versus faking it and fearful
If you can see life as an experiment and assume that whatever happens is always useful feedback guiding you towards where you are supposed to be, then there’s always hope. Some of my most triumphant moments as a coach have been when clients have tested their assumptions about life to discover what their true calling is and have adjusted their course to live more authentically.
Once you practice living like this you always have hope and start to move away from the killer of hope… FEAR. Living in fear is a coach’s most challenging adversary but my experience tells me that once you start to fuel your life on hope then fear melts away and has less power over your life.