Are you waiting, hoping, or even praying for something good to happen? Something that will change your life for the better?
Maybe you’re hoping for a new job, a promotion or a new career?
Or, perhaps you are hoping to get fit, lose weight or improve your work-life balance?
Hoping something will change or happen is rather like daydreaming, wishing or wanting something. The trouble with hope is it is only part of the story and will only get you so far.
Nelson Mandela hinted at the concept of ‘hope’ when he talked about vision. He famously said:
Vision without action is merely daydreaming
Creating a vision for a more positive future is similar to hoping for something. Consequently, ‘hope’ without action is also merely daydreaming.
I don’t want to mislead you with an entirely negative portrayal of ‘hope’. Being hopeful can feel highly positive. However, this only holds true if you know how to optimise your hopefulness and convert it into reality.
How to make ‘hope’ work for you.
Hoping for something can be motivational and inspire you to take positive action towards whatever you are hoping for. This is easy to see when, for example, we plan a house move, a wedding, or a holiday. We become excited about it and this compels us, almost inadvertently, to take steps towards making it happen.
You can make hope work for you by, firstly, visualising what you hope for. The effect of this is so powerful that your brain releases positive neurochemicals (such as dopamine and endorphins) which intensify your motivation as well as making you feel good.
Astonishingly, neuroscientists have found that when you recall or imagine a positive experience, the effect is almost as potent as when you do it for real. It positively affects your sense of well-being, even though it is only in your thoughts!
So how do you convert your hopefulness into a powerful vision that compels you to act and achieve what you hope for?
How to visualise what you hope for
Imagine for a moment how you feel when you think about (or visualise) an upcoming holiday.
Picture the wonderful things you will see, feel and experience. Imagine how will you feel when you leave your stresses behind and enjoy a break from the worries and pressures of everyday life.
To make it really work for you, visualisation needs detail.
Conjure in your head the images, smells, sounds, feelings, colours etc. If it is a holiday (for example) you’re hoping for, picture the beautiful sights you will see. The blue sea, white sand, the snow, the mountains, the lakes, the trees or whatever it is that attracted you to the holiday in the first place. Imagine the sun warming your skin, the sand between your toes or the taste of the cocktail as you watch the sun set. Feel the snow crunching under your boots, the frost on your nose or the swish of your skis as you glide down the beautiful mountain slope.
Most important of all, think about how you will feel when you achieve what you hope for.
You will start to feel real feelings. You will probably feel excited, relaxed or happy just by the thought of it, even though you are only thinking about it rather than actually doing it.
People who market and sell holidays know this. That’s why they bombard us with images of stunning sunsets, beaches, forests, mountains, happy people and so on. They are using images, words and sounds to create a ‘feel-good factor’ every time we look at their website, brochure, or video.
Hence, ‘hoping’, day-dreaming, desiring, visualising – however you wish to describe it – can make you feel mentally and physically good.
Sadly though, as soon as we put the brochure down or close the website and return to our daily tasks, the positive feelings subside.
The question then, is how do we make the feel-good mood last?
How to keep the feel-good factor going.
Mr Mandela inspired us to dream. He also knew how to maximise hopes and dreams. In the last part of his speech he said…
Vision with action can change the world
Changing the world is a mighty big ambition! Your hopes and dreams may not be quite as far reaching. Nonetheless, whatever you hope for is within your grasp. Research has shown that to achieve even a giant-sized, scary, ambitious goal, you are more likely to succeed if you take lots of small steps or actions which feel doable and achievable.
Every time you complete an action – no matter how small – it will make you feel good and you will be one step closer to converting your hopes and dreams into reality.
Day by day, step by step, you will move closer towards that which you long for. So, in conclusion,
These 3 things will make hope work for you:
1. Visualise what you are hoping for – in detail. Imagine what you will feel, see, hear, smell, taste?
2. Take small steps (actions) today to get you closer to what you hope for?
3. List the next steps – and when you have completed those, list the next ones, and so on until you get there.
You may not be aiming to change the world. But you can use your hopes and dreams as a positive force for change. Use it to frame and motivate yourself to take positive actions towards your desired outcome.
Be inspired by Mr Mandela. Begin to convert whatever it is you hope for into action. Start today with the first small step.
After all, ‘hope’ is not a plan!