Human beings are hope-shaped creatures. How you live today is shaped by what you believe about your future - Tim Keller
I heard this quote on a podcast this weekend and it resonated so deeply and got me thinking about how true these words are.
When I look at my own life I see how everyday the way I live my life reflects my belief about the future. On days I’m feeling low I see how that is reflecting that my belief in better future has diminished. On days where I’m feeling great I see how that too reflects a belief in much brighter future one where I see what is possible.
The first word in my H.E.A.R.T. self leadership framework is HOPE. The framework I developed was born out of my own journey from healing after after heartbreak when my marriage ended a few years ago and continues to be one I go deep into whenever I’m navigating change or uncertainty.
I’ve been wondering about HOPE a lot recently perhaps because I’m 39yrs old hurtling towards the big 40 in December and life doesn’t look anything like what I expected it to at this time.
I’ve always wanted a family of my own and I’m conscious at this age that my egg reserves are rapidly depleting, it probably doesn’t help that my ovaries explode every time I see parents with their new born babies! Lol!
Being single too, I still have hope for a partner to share my life journey with - I’d always imagined growing old with someone, holding hands, being a soppy romantic and seeing how the laughter lines on my face would deepen from years of belly laughs and living with a silly grin on my face!
As I cultivate and deepen my understanding of the role of hope and how it ignites the vision we have for ourselves, I see the power this small four letter word has in shaping our lives.
My life doesn’t look anything like what I imagined it to or had hoped for in certain areas of it, but it’s incredibly useful for me to be aware that I’m no less hopeful about the future.
Hope is ultimately a way of thinking that propels us forward and the absence of it…. well….I’m sure we’ve all experienced a sense of hopelessness at times and it’s not a place I want to re-visit.
What’s important to note is that hope is a choice and it can be something learned.
Research from C.R. Snyder shows us hope happens when we are able to set realistic goals for our future and have a belief in ourselves to achieve them - which also includes how to figure out the steps to get there as well as being persistent in the face of disappointment.
I was speaking to a friend this weekend around the challenges people face in cultivating hope and where the problems lay. What was interesting to hear was her perspective that hope, when it comes to careers and work, was significantly easier to cultivate because she felt it was more ‘figure-out-able’ and that perhaps there were greater challenges in cultivating hope when it came to our personal lives because it’s harder to define where we are wanting to go and therefore how to get there.
As I pondered her perspective I considered what I had experienced and all that I have learned. What I recognise to be true is that we have to begin with understanding ourselves and what is going on for us.
Are we trying to have the whole of life figured out and have the answers for where we should be headed for the rest of our lives? It’s a big ask and can be overwhelming, it will certainly feel like it’s impossible to figure out!
Are we locked into believing that because we don’t have everything we want now that it’s never likely to happen? Are we comparing our lives to others and letting the joy be stripped from the adventure of discovering what is truly meaningful for our own lives?
Are we stuck in a narrative that says it’s hard to know where we want to go?
If you allowed yourself to think perhaps just 12mths ahead what personal goals would you set for yourself? And if it’s hard to identify the goals perhaps start with asking yourself what would you like to be saying at the end of year that would make you feel proud about how you lived it?
Now when it comes to my personal hopes to be settled in relationship and to have a family of my own I know there are many factors I can’t control but I’m no less hopeful because I focus on the things I can.
I know at the end of the year I want to be looking back saying that I lived my life fully, like someone who already had everything she hoped for, with a sense of gratitude and deep fulfilment. I know I want to be saying that I had a hell of an adventure and didn’t waste time pondering over what I didn’t have but celebrated all that I did.
As I result the goals I’ve set myself focus on how I achieve exactly those outcomes - I say yes to new opportunities. I seek new adventures and challenges and I open myself up to letting the wonder of life unfold.
I’m living today as my hope for the future is that I look back with a silly grin on my face, with my wrinkles from my laughter lines and have peace knowing I lived exactly I was meant to.
That’s my hope - what’s yours?