Hope

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu

What Is Hope?

Hope describes our motivation to realise our goals, even when something is blocking us from achieving them. We broadly define hope as “the belief in a better future and the action to make it happen”. The action part of this definition is particularly important as it means using specific steps to make our goals a reality. For example, where we may have a ‘plan a’ that fails, we need to also have a ‘plan b’, ‘plan c’, etc. This distinguishes hope from similar concepts as it presumes personal accountability for outcomes.

It can be difficult to maintain hope in situations where an obstacle (be it real or perceived) is standing in the way of our goal. This can allow thoughts of doubt or disbelief to creep in and ultimately leads to giving up.

Fortunately, there are a variety of strategies we can use on a daily basis to help us overcome these negative thoughts and take positive action.

This module will guide you through three steps that have been shown to influence hopeful thinking. Alongside explanations, you will be given practical tools you can use to complete each step and achieve your goals. 

Understanding Your MyMynd Hope Score

Optimal

An optimal score suggests that you are able to employ multiple appropriate strategies when working on your goals. You likely experience no significant distress when encountering obstacles and are motivated to overcome them. You may want to explore this module in order to maintain good functioning.

Satisfactory

A satisfactory score suggests that you are able to employ a few different strategies when working on your goals. You may experience some mild distress when encountering obstacles but are still largely motivated to overcome them. You may want to explore this module to work on those aspects where you are struggling.

Moderate Concern

A moderate concern score suggests that you are able to employ a limited set of strategies when working on your goals. You may experience some distress when encountering obstacles and may struggle to think of a ‘plan b’ in situations where ‘plan a’ doesn’t work. We recommend exploring this module in order to work on those aspects where you are struggling.

At Risk

An at risk score suggests that you are only able to employ one or two strategies when working on your goals. It is likely that you experience frequent and significant distress when encountering obstacles. You are also likely to struggle to think of any alternatives to ‘plan a’ and therefore have limited motivation to pursue your goals. We recommend exploring this module to work on those aspects where you are struggling and to seek help from your GP/listed helplines if needed.

Why Working On Your Hope Is Important

Having hope feels good, but it is also good for you.

Hopeful people benefit from:

Greater Life Satisfaction

Healthier Lifestyle

Longer Life Expectancy

Increased Productivity

How Can You Be More Hopeful?

Research suggests that there are three main steps you can take in order to achieve a more hopeful outlook on life. 

These steps can be remembered using the acronym GPA:

GOALS

Approaching life in a goal oriented way.

PATHWAYS

Finding different ways to achieve your goals.

AGENCY

Believing that you can bring about change and achieve your goals.

By understanding these steps and using relevant strategies, you can learn how to create clear goals, think of multiple pathways towards those goals and persevere until you have achieved them, even when obstacles get in your way. 

Tools To Improve Your Hope

Wheel Of Hope

A simple tool that allows you to visualise all the important areas of your life at once.

Implement Intentions

A pre-determined plan about when and where to act to achieve a specific goal.

Rate My Goals

An easy way to identify and track your progress towards long-term goals.

Overcoming Obstacles

Increase your ability to identify and overcome any barriers that might get in the way of you achieving your goals.

Weighing the Evidence

A key difference between having high hope and having low hope is learning how to balance positive and negative thoughts.

Positive Affirmations

Positive statements that help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts.

Wheel Of Hope

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Goals

15 Minutes

Starter

Visual

The wheel of hope is a simple tool that allows you to visualise all the important areas of your life at once. In doing so, the wheel helps you to identify which areas you are succeeding in and which ones need more work. 

Completing the wheel is a good starting point for goal-setting as it allows you to gain some insight into the balance of your life and to start thinking about why your wheel looks the way it does, what you would like your wheel to look like and how to make it happen.

You can use and print the PDF template in the Download Materials or draw your own wheel of hope.

1. If drawing, draw a circle and divide it into 8 wedges. 

2. Label each wedge so that all the important areas of your life are represented. 

3. Assign each wedge a score from 1-10 that reflects how hopeful you are about your goals in that area:

(1 = not hopeful at all)

(10 = extremely hopeful)

4. Fill in each wedge so that the size of the wedge is representative of the score you have given it. 

5. Once you have filled in all of the wedges, take a look at the wheel as a whole and take some time to reflect:

    • Are there any big discrepancies between areas?
    • Why do you think this is?
    • How would you feel if those low scoring areas were to improve?
    • What can you do to improve them

6. Choose one area to focus on first and write down what you would like to achieve in that area in the long-term. 

7. Then, write down one (or more) specific steps you will take in the next week in order to move closer to that goal and act on them. 

8. Repeat for each of the areas you would like to improve and monitor your progress by revisiting your wheel at the end of the month to see how it has changed. 

Implement Intentions

R

Goals

20 Minutes

Intermediate

Thinking

An implement intention refers to a pre-determined plan you make about when and where to act in order to achieve a specific goal and can be created using the following format: 

“When situation X arises, I will perform response Y”. 

Setting implement intentions helps to remove any vagueness surrounding your goal and transforms it into a concrete plan of action. The idea is to make the time and location of each activity so obvious that, with enough repetition, you automatically get the urge to complete it, transforming your goal into a habit.

You can use the worksheet in the Download Materials to complete this tool.

1. Think about an existing goal you have that you are struggling to complete. Start small, pick something that you can realistically address straight away. 

E.g. “I’m going to get healthier” or “I’m going to be more productive”.

2. Remove the vagueness of your goal by rephrasing it according to the specific activity you will perform followed by the time and location in which you will perform it. 

E.g. “I will go for a walk for 1 hour at 5pm in my local park”.

E.g. “I will write a to-do list for the day ahead at 9am in the study”.

3. Sometimes you won’t be able to implement an activity, no matter how perfect your plan. When this happens, you can change the format of your intention to an “if-then” version. In doing this, you’re still stating your intention to perform a particular activity but you are planning for any unexpected situations or obstacles that might crop up. 

E.g. “If my meeting runs over and I’m unable to go for a walk this evening, then I’ll wake up early tomorrow and go for a run before work”.

E.g. “If I haven’t finished my to-do list by 9.15am, then I won’t look at my social media until I have completed it”.

Rate My Goals

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Goals

20 Minutes

Intermediate

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Written

Checking your goals is an easy way to identify and track your progress towards long-term goals and can be split into two stages:

Stage 1: setting the goal and rating your current progress towards it (see ‘Rate My Goals’ worksheet).

Stage 2: breaking the long-term goal down into smaller, short-term goals and thinking about ways to overcome any obstacles you might encounter (see Overcoming Obstacles worksheet).

1. Start by writing a list of all the major goals you want to achieve in your life.

2. Then, using the worksheet in the Download Materials, assign at least 2 long-term goals (to complete within the next 1-2 years) to each of the domains provided.

Note: goals should be both meaningful and reasonable to achieve e.g. “get a promotion at work”.

3. Once you have written down your goals for each domain, rate your current progress towards them on a scale of 1-10. 

(1 = no movement towards your goal)

(10 = very satisfied with your progress towards the goal)

4. Repeat this process on a weekly or monthly basis as a way of tracking your progress and identifying which of your goals are close to completion and which require more attention.

Overcoming Obstacles

R

Pathways

30 Minutes

Advanced

l

Written

This tool is a continuation of the Rate My Goals tool.

Overcoming obstacles refers to your ability to identify any potential barriers that might get in the way of you achieving your goals and to come up with a range of appropriate strategies for dealing with those barriers. 

Note: strategies should not be limited to 1 or 2 but should include any realistic course of action that can be taken in order to overcome the obstacle and reach your goal. 

1. Look back at your ‘Rate My Goals’ worksheet. Now that you have identified what your long-term goals are, it is time to take appropriate action towards achieving them.

2. Using the worksheet in the download materials, write down 2-3 short-term goals that will help you to pursue each of the long-term goals you rated as lower than a six on the ‘Rate My Goals’ worksheet.

3. Once you have done this, think of any potential obstacles you might face when pursuing these goals and write them down.

4. Finally, consider the steps you will take to overcome these obstacles and put them into practice.

Weighing The Evidence

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Agency

20 Minutes

Advanced

l

Thinking

A key difference between people with high hope and people with low hope is in how they balance positive and negative thoughts. 

Individuals with high hope tend to acknowledge their negative thoughts without letting them take control of their overall outlook on life. In contrast, those with low hope often focus excessively on negative thoughts which leads to self-doubt and giving up. 

Weighing the evidence is a tool that can help you become aware of such negative thoughts and then test whether or not they are true, allowing you to reframe them in a way that is more reasonable and less distressing.

When you focus excessively on negative thoughts they can become extreme, leading you to:

  1. Blow things out of proportion – e.g. because I made a mistake, I will lose my job.
  2. Jump to conclusions – e.g. because this happened, this next thing is going to happen.
  3. Overgeneralise – e.g. because this happened once, this will always happen.
  4. Mind reading – e.g. my boss doesn’t like me, I just know it.
  5. Labeling – e.g. I am useless.

Extreme thoughts can also lead us to make extreme statements such as:

  1. “I will never get promoted”. 
  2. “No one likes me”. 
  3. “Every time I try, I fail”. 

Next time you catch yourself thinking in this way, write the thought down. Then, using the worksheet in the Download Materials, write down all of the evidence that supports your statement (evidence must be hard facts, not yours or anyone else’s opinion), followed by all of the evidence that contradicts your statement. Once you have done that, you should be able to create a more balanced thought.

Positive Affirmations

R

Agency

10 Minutes a Day

Starter

Thinking

Affirmations are positive statements that help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. When you repeat them often, you encourage your brain to adopt a more positive outlook on your life and your capabilities. 

Over time, the positive changes to your thoughts will also be reflected in your behaviour.

There is no right or wrong way to practice your affirmations but some suggestions include:

  1. Writing the affirmation downWrite the affirmation in a journal, diary or on your computer and add to it each morning until you have a comprehensive list of positive statements ready for whenever you need a little boost.
  2. Saying the affirmation out loudWhen you wake up in the morning look at your reflection in the mirror and recite the affirmation out loud to yourself three times to solidify it in your mind.
  3. Downloading an affirmation appDownload a free affirmation app and get daily affirmations sent straight to your phone.

Note: what you choose to write in your affirmations is entirely up to you. Statements can range from something specific to do with your ability to perform in your job to something more general about your life. The important thing is that each affirmation is a positive statement created by you about you. 

The flashcards in the Download Materials contain some examples to help you get started.