Resolutions, and the power of hope

It’s often at this time of year that any New Year’s resolutions can start to falter as our positive intentions hit the inertia of our old ways of being. The power of hope (a desire with an expectation for something, especially something good, to happen) can enable us to see possibilities where none exist, propelling us to move towards a better future for ourselves and others around us.

Research has shown that people who score high in hope have lower levels of depression and anxiety, and higher levels of happiness and wellbeing. Hopeful people tend to share four core beliefs:
– the future will be better than the present (optimism)
– I have the power to make it so (agency, self-efficacy)
– there are many paths to my goals (resilience)
– none of them is free of obstacles (realistic).

Snyder’s Hope Theory argues that to hope is to have both the will and the ways to go after desired goals. This three-part process gives us a roadmap to achieving our New Year’s resolutions, or any other change we might want to implement in the coming year:

  • Goals – develop clear, concrete goals for a better future.
  • Pathways – find pathways to your goals, and develop the ability to generate alternative solutions when obstacles or setbacks arise
  • Agency – belief and determination that you can change yourself, overcome obstacles, and achieve your goals. ‘Agency thinking’ is believing that you have the ability to effect change and make things happen.

This process, of creating and pursuing change through hope of a better future, can be captured in the GROW (Goal, Reality, Options, Will) model which is widely used in professional development coaching.

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