Over the last couple of years it has been challenging to find positive things on which we can be future-focused. The Covid-19 pandemic stripped away our ability to plan long term, the immediate focus rightly being on staying safe and at times isolating within our respective bubbles. While our safety is still a major focus, I feel a heightened level of optimism and hope coming out of the Federal election results in May.
Whatever your political persuasion the results heralded a significant shift in our political landscape and have highlighted the issues that are front of mind for the majority of Australians – the environment and climate change, cost of living, gender equality and safety, a shared future of a more equitable and humane society.
Hope will play a part in our collective moving forward. It is a change agent and not to be underestimated as it has a very ‘active role to play in psychological change’ (Lopez et al., 2004).
“Hope reflects individuals’ perceptions of their capacities to 1) clearly conceptualize goals; 2) develop specific strategies to reach those goals (pathways thinking); 3) initiate and sustain the motivation for using those strategies (agency thinking). Goals in this instance are anything an individual desires to experience, create, get, do, or become” (Lopez et al., 2004, p. 388).
Goals can be monumental or small, and range from being slightly possible to highly likely. Pathway and agency thinking are both necessary to pursue goals and achieve meaningful change. One way of looking at hope is that goals are the destination, with strategies and motivation being the supports that enable us to reach the destination.
When I attend educational courses run by the Recovery College in Sydney, one of the common threads that people speak of in their recovery journey is the importance of hope in enabling them to change. They refer to the importance of having something to focus on, of strategies and a determination to make improvements to, and have agency over, their own lives as the factors that allows them to deal with their varying mental wellbeing challenges.
Because we are social creatures another important component of hope is having people we can share our goals and dreams with, people who will support and challenge us in our endeavours to do whatever we identify as being important, people who will help us overcome any slumps we may have in pursuit of our goals.
I encourage you to think about what your goals are and how you’ll achieve them and support yourself to stay the course. Make the most of this communal feeling of optimism to enhance your individual feelings of hope, moving into a new phase of collective social change. Ride the wave of people who are hopeful for a better future.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch if the above resonates with you and you’d like to talk to us.
Lopez, S. J., & Snyder, C.R., Magyar-Moe, J. L., Edwards, Pedrotti, J. T., Janowski, K., Turner, J. L., & Pressgrove, C. (2004). Strategies for accentuating hope. In Positive psychology in practice (pp. 388-404). John Wiley & Sons.