Hope

WHY SHOULD YOU PAY ATTENTION TO HOPE?

alt="3 Smiling, hopeful women"Being hopeful and forward facing is a joyful and satisfying way to go through life. Hopeful women know that with imagination and focus, a better tomorrow is possible. If you are alone or need a major change in your life, being hopeful will give you the strength to build a roadmap to create a better future.

You can become confident in your ability to make decisions.  Fear of trying something new, defeat and bitterness are attitudes which can be overcome with positive reinforcement, help and trust in your ability to create a difference in your  life.

Being hopeful leads you to gratitude and happiness for the progress you’ve made.

Being hopeful gives you the courage to overcome fear and try something new.

Being hopeful gives you the strength to know that you can make different choices and create a better future.

Here’s how to start:

SETTING GOALS IS ESSENTIAL

Hopeful women know that setting goals is essential and we believe that if we’re realistic and work steadily, our goals can be achieved.

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Your goals can be modest, such as more peaceful time to spend in your garden or reading your favorite books. This might just be a matter of better time organization. You might be wanting to improve your health by learning new ways to eat and care for yourself.  Fortunately, there is an abundance of advice available to modify your lifestyle for these attainable goals. Don’t be closed to asking for help when you are facing making a change!

But what about a full-scale life make-over? What if you have a vision of complete life reinvention which will require long-term strategy and stamina?

If your goals involve multiple people, such as children and spouses, or reinventing your career, things can get complicated pretty fast.  Here’s where being hopeful also means accepting that however strong your efforts may be, you will have obstacles and challenges to face.  This takes courage and trust in yourself.

WHAT IF YOU STUMBLE OR ARE SATABOGED?

alt="Woman drawing a triangle with words on the sides: "Idea" "Action" "Plan""Working towards reinvention can be a surprising journey.  The happiness we find in the kindness  and generosity of helpful people in our lives can be offset by unexpected problems. And unkind, cruel people might want to sabotage your success. Maybe it’s a co-worker who resents your good work, or maybe it’s a relative who doesn’t want you to lose weight. Negative people in your life have their own reasons but their reasons don’t need to become yours.

Obstacles come in many forms, not just uncooperative people, of course.  Rules and regulations, lack of money, being exhausted or not having enough time can all contribute to holding you back.

And then there’s fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of change. Fear of failure and embarrassment. Fear of having to painfully pick up the pieces.

Hope is the way we find courage to move through our fears.

Brave people don’t have magic – they have hope that they can overcome their obstacles. By nurturing your hope, you increase your courage and willingness to keep moving forward.

HERE’S HOW YOU STAY HOPEFUL AND OVERCOME OBSTACLES 

There are many techniques about solving problems.  Further down on this webpage, we’ll discuss problem-solving skills, overcoming fear,  staying realistic and how to increase your self-confidence.

But to start, let me suggest the techniques that I found most helpful in learning HOW TO STAY HOPEFUL through frustration and challenges, and keep believing that positive change can happen.

Here are 10 tips you can use to help overcome obstacles and stay hopeful:

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Tip #1:  Accept that you need to create a strategy to solve your problem and move forward towards your goal.  If you don’t have the problem solving skills from your own experience, look around for who can help you and seek out their advice. Accept that luck will not replace focused effort in overcoming your challenge.  Being realistic and strategically planning the steps you need to take is the key to making change.

Tip #2:  Stay focused on your goal and your strategy.  Be your own best cheerleader by creating ways to encourage yourself.  I found a simple technique very helpful: leaving notes with positive reminders so I could see them throughout the day.  Visual reinforcement matters.  Strong messaging is convincing. Try collecting pictures that symbolize your better future. Let yourself be constantly reminded of better times to come. Look for techniques to keep your spirits up and ways to reinforce your will to move forward. Nourish your hope!

Tip #3:  Watch out for your negative self-talk:  We all have heads that are filled with chatter, ways that we continue an inner dialog.  If you have heard negative messages repeated to you, it’s understandable that you would pick these up and continue internally discouraging yourself.  Replace negative self-talk like “Don’t waste your time,”  “You’ll never be able to do that,” and “You can’t,”  with positive affirmations you repeat to yourself.  “I can do this.”  “Stay strong, stay focused.” “I can make this happen.” More about this

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Tip #4:  Find connection and don’t feel alone: In today’s connected world, there is no reason to feel that you are the only person in your situation. Trust that among the billions of people alive on the Earth, there will be someone else who had a similar experience and figured out how to thrive and move forward. 

It’s important that you find examples of other people who have overcome their obstacles.

You will find comfort and inspiration knowing that solutions are possible for your problem, no matter how daunting.

Tip #5:  Hope is contagious: Spend time with people who have overcome obstacles and made good things happen for themselves. If you don’t know them personally, look for inspiring stories in books, magazines, online profiles, television documentaries.  It’s worth your time to seek out inspiration because positive examples actively teach that you can do it, too! You can catch the spark of hope! You will learn from their techniques. Whenever possible, ask questions in person and seek out advice.

If you can find a support group that meets regularly, this is very helpful. The support groups I’ve joined and attended during transition times in my life have made a huge difference.  I’ve received helpful advice, emotional support and maintained – or regained – my positive outlook through hard times.  Examples of support groups that you can find in your area include:  Weight WatchersAl-Anon Family Groups and private therapy. Look for a group that matches your needs at your local community center, health clinic, hospital or church. If you can afford to hire a professional, like a lawyer, therapist, business consultant or life coach, knowing that someone is on your side will reinforce your courage and hope for a positive outcome.

Tipe #6:  Be prepared! You can be productive even when you’re stuck: Investing your time in preparation is mandatory for any major change. You can use your time productively to prepare even when hitting an obstacle. When you are stuck, use your time to strategize and plan. Then, when it’s clear that you have no choice and must try something different, you will be ready with an alternative action. This is an essential tactic used by people who refuse to take “no” for an answer.

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Tip #7: Don’t be discouraged if you are overwhelmed or overworked.  Be realistic about your timeline. You will be able to invent a way to create change if you truly believe in two things:  1) your goals, and 2) your hopeful attitude that you can keep moving forward.  

Understand your timeline and pace yourself. If your work load is heavy, you may need more time that you’d wish for to make change happen. If you expect change faster than you can realistically make it happen, you will get frustrated and discouraged. Create mid-points along the way which you can use to celebrate your progress.

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Tip #8: Acknowledge your progress, even baby steps.  Take pride in being clever and creative that you have figured out how to keep moving forward. Don’t just wait for the finish line! When you have completed any part of your goal, celebrating your progress will keep you encouraged.  

Praise and reward yourself for your creativity and strength.  When you have made several baby steps, other people will notice. Seek out praise and encouragement from those around you.  

It’s good to be noticed for being resourceful and resilient.

Tip #9: If you have the misfortune to be in the presence of hateful, discouraging people who want to sabatoge your goals, make a mental note that YOU HAVE MADE PROGRESS IN SPITE OF THEM!  Build a mental wall between their negative energy and your goals.  It may not be easy but remember that whatever happens inside your mind belongs ONLY to you.

Tip #10: Remember that you have the power to control your attitude.  You may believe that other people can “mess with your head”, but, in reality, the only one who can create and control your thoughts is YOU. 

STAYING REALISTIC

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Expecting that the journey towards our goals will be varied and filled with different kinds of experiences, both positive and painful, is the approach that genuinely hopeful women find most helpful.  It’s realistic and practical to expected a variety of experiences while you are changing your life.  Only in fairy-tales do we get to wave a magic wand.  Keeping your eyes open in real life will help you be prepared to deal with whatever happens.

This is just as important as knowing what you hope to achieve.

ATTITUDE IS ALL-IMPORTANT

Attitude is all-important.  Believing that you can make a positive difference is the spark that starts your engine and the fuel that keeps it running.

It’s true that some people seem to be born more self-confident, and men, especially, seem more brave about moving into leadership positions and blazing new trails.  There is a lot of discussion about this now, especially with Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In  which encourages women in the workplace to not hold themselves back.

Helping other people is a fast way to feel capable, useful and in control

alt="Devoted mother helping her daughter with homework"A quick way to be encouraged that you are capable is to teach other people. Whether it’s demonstrating a skill to a co-worker, leading a team, helping a child or being a valued volunteer in your community, you will be proving that you are resilient and resourceful.

Being helpful is the antidote to discouragement. When life throws disappointments in our paths, the hopeful woman remembers to look for ways to build her self-confidence. She knows that self-confidence is just an attitude and can be reclaimed by saying “Yes, I can do this” and then finding ways to validate her can-do attitude.

There’s no magic to being a can-do person.  You just need to decide that that’s who you are and be willing to strategically move past anyone who would try to stop you.  In truth, most of us stop ourselves!  Shift your attitude by being committed to not holding yourself back.

You can move forward if you believe in yourself.

BUILDING TRUST IN YOURSELF TO MAKE GOOD CHOICES

With every small success you can build a foundation of self-confidence and trust in yourself. Soon that self-confidence starts to show. When we make good choices, it becomes easier to feel self-confident about making more choices.

Women with experience in life know that making good choices takes practice.

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Do we get scared and shaken? Sure., But trusting that we can figure out how to overcome obstacles is a core belief of hopeful women. That trust is based on taking small risks trying something new until we have practiced making choices and felt the glow of success.  Practice  gives us the courage to take bigger risks.

Making good choices takes learning to be observant about possible consequences.  Hopeful women know if we make lousy choices, as so many of us have, or if life shocks us with an unwelcome surprise, we can stumble on our life’s path.

Sometimes, the hole of despair is so deep, like in the case of a deadly illness or tragic loss, we may need more time and help. We may need to even adjust our goals.  There is no shame in making a course correction if circumstances are extreme.  We must be realistic. With each challenge, we learn the difference between being resolute and strong and being stubborn and stupid.

We learn by trial and error. It’s the lucky woman who has a firm, unshakeable vision of what she wants to be when she grows up then moves towards it smoothly. Many of us, myself included, have moved forward mostly by trial and error. I left home at 17 to create a new life, went in one direction then changed my mind.  Each change required strategy and problem solving skills.  Some were major, painful shifts.  There were difficult days when only trust in my ability to find help and be helpful to myself got me through.

This is why I believe so passionately that you can make change happen in your life, too!  I’ve been there in that darkest hour.

And….this is why being hopeful is so important:  hopeful women trust in their ability to make good choices about the future.

PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS CAN BE LEARNED:  YOU CAN START AT ANY AGE

A hopeful woman knows that problem-solving is a skill to be learned and takes practice.

alt="Golden key poised to go into a key hole"Babies are not born knowing how to figure things out. Some of us have wise teachers who guide us but everybody grows up learning by trial and error.  As toddlers, we reach into a flame and burn our finger. In school, we learn from the rewards or hazards of raising our hands in class. We run with balls or drop them, learn to please or rebel from authority, leave home and find ourselves on the threshold of adult life wondering which way to go.

We never stop learning. You can stretch your problem-solving skills with every new choice. You’ve made mistakes, learned to swallow your embarrassment and disappointment – sooner or later, and absorbed new life skills. It’s a cliche that older people look back at a crisis in their life and say that “Yes.  This is what taught me the most.”

If our eyes are on our goals and our hearts know the comfort of hope, we are not defeated.

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You can develop the problem-solving mindset. Look for opportunities in your life to step forward and try something new. Ignore being embarrassed or feeling incompetent.  We all hate that feeling.  BUT, with practice, you will glow with the love of learning. Your happiness and satisfaction will overcome your embarrassment.  You will stretch and thrive.

Learning to solve problems is addictive.  That’s why so many people play games and enjoy puzzles! Consider adding games and puzzles or your life as a way of training your brain to solve problems. The more you do, the easier it becomes.

If you’re at work, look for more responsibility, more training on new equipment, new opportunities for leadership. If you volunteer in your community, step forward to help the organizers so you can practice leading a team. If you have time, take a class. You can grow your confidence as a problem solver with repeated success and practice. This does work!

Some of us come to enjoy the smaller challenges in life because it’s like solving a puzzle or game.  How am I going to figure this out?  When we do, it’s a celebration!  With practice, the small obstacles grow smaller and the large obstacles come down in size, too, until they all seem to be manageable problems.

HOPE IS ACTIVE, NOT PASSIVE

Dreaming and wishful thinking are passive.  We can wish to win the lottery, or wish that the extra pounds on our bodies would just melt away.  But, you can easily see that sitting and wishing won’t make change happen in your life.  Some action from you is required.

“Hoping” is an action verb.

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Here’s another example: you can wish that you lived in another neighborhood so your kids could go to a better school.  Having a vision and a goal is the start but wishing alone won’t make things happen.  Only your actions can create a better future for your children.

For a major change like this, you will need a strategy and a lot of planning, but millions of parents research relocating and how to financially handle the move.  You can feel encouraged and hopeful and learn from their experiences.

Sometimes taking action means making sacrifices. Creating a new future and lifestyle is not trivial and may mean shouldering the burden of transition costs. Larger, more meaningful goals usually require significantly more work to achieve and should be considered thoughtfully.

Here’s why a Hopeful Women will succeed: she makes a practical assessment about what needs to be done, finds advisors and the best helpers she can, plans a realistic  timeline, then commits to working steadily towards her goal.  And, throughout, she remembers to take care of herself and nurture her hope.>>

Learn to nurture your hope and you will create and sustain excitement about your future.

LEARN THE HABITS OF HOPE…..AND CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

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