As we mentioned in a prior post, it is possible to grow your hopefulness about your work and life. Yet, you might not know where to start in doing so. Or maybe you are on a work team that is losing hope in its ability to achieve goals. It’s easy to lose hope when things aren’t going the way you expected. But, luckily, it’s also possible to build your hopefulness back up.
Below, you’ll find an exercise to help you to grow your hopefulness at work. We hope that you find this activity useful in re-energizing yourself, or your team, around important goals. If you want an even more in-depth version of this exercise, check out our course on the 4 Keys to Sustainable Success.
Step 1: Set a goal you want to build hopefulness toward
Hope is usually invoked during times of stress or struggle. If the situation you were in was easy, you might not need hope to get through it. But, when we are blinded by challenges, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. This is why the first step of the activity is to set a clear goal. You need to be able to focus on exactly what you want to achieve in order to get there.
Try sitting down in a quiet space and writing out your goal. Goals should be specific, and challenging. But, they shouldn’t be impossible. For example, if your goal was to improve your team’s culture at work, you might commit to improving your team’s satisfaction and engagement scores by a certain percentage. But, committing to never having an interpersonal issue arise again might be unrealistic. It would also be problematic if you set your goal to “improve the team’s culture”, because that would be too vague. Once you have your goal tacked down, you can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Remember your “why” in order to maintain hopefulness
Next, it’s important to build your motivation toward your goal. Hoping for something often means that you’re in a situation that is quite bleak at the moment. It can be hard to stay energized toward your goal if you aren’t prepared to keep going when times are tough. Writing down why this goal is important to you can help.
Meditate on what would improve in your life, or the lives of others, if this goal was achieved. For the prior example, you might lower your stress and improve your happiness if your team’s culture is improved. You might also do the same for other members of the team. Further, the organization might experience improved performance and well-being outcomes as a result of your team’s improved culture. Write down your “why” and keep it somewhere that you can revisit later. When times get tough, reflect on what you wrote down as motivation to keep going.
Step 3: Take pre-planned action to achieve your goals
Finally, hoping won’t get you anywhere if you aren’t actually taking action to achieve your goals. Part of staying hopeful over time is recognizing that your dreams are possible. But, it is easy to let hopefulness become eclipsed by hopelessness when your goals are getting further out of reach. For this reason, being hopeful means taking steps to make your dreams reality.
Take some time to start charting a course toward your goals. What do you need to do in order to make your goal happen? Write out an action plan, with detailed steps outlined. Now, think about things that might go wrong along the way. Generate additional, contingent action plans that would help you to get around those potential challenges. When you hit a snag that you anticipated, hope is better maintained than if you are caught off guard. Careful planning can help make sure your hopefulness doesn’t take a hit along the path toward your goals!
Hope can be grown at the individual or at the team level. So, this exercise is great for when you’re trying to achieve personal goals, or when a work group is tackling something challenging. Return to this activity whenever you want a boost in your hopefulness.
The nice part about this activity is that it isn’t just for work. You can use it for achieving life goals – or you can introduce it to a group of friends or your family if you are trying to reach goals together. It can be tough to build and maintain hope, but it’s not impossible. We hope (no pun intended) that this exercise helps get you there!