A bit of optimism – three strategies to give you more hope in life

A coaching client recently shared with me how fed up she was.


Not about anything specific. Just in general. Fed up with the home schooling. Fed up with all the confusion about the vaccines. Fed up with this COVID life where there doesn’t seem to be a tangible end in sight and frankly a lack of hope.

It’s a common sentiment that I hear during many of my virtual catchups with clients, colleagues and friends. A sentiment that was perfectly captured in the viral post by Adam Grant where he named this feeling “languishing”.


A sense of hope


With so much angst in the world, it’s not surprising that we don’t have a hope to counter the feeling of languishing.


Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. – Wikipedia


A bit of optimism


As I reflected on this post, I stumbled across Simon Sinek’s podcastA Bit of Optimism”. While I wish there were more things I had in common with Mr Sinek, the fact we are both optimists is, for me, a good start.


In one episode, he shared a quote from Rebecca Solnit on hope.


“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal… To hope is to give yourself to the future – and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.” – Rebecca Solnit


Powerful isn’t it.

As we languish in our COVID existence, hope provides the breakthrough in our mindset that we desperately need and I’ve identified three strategies that will (not “that I hope will”) work.


Three strategies to give you more hope


1. Take control of your environment


We go through our daily lives like sponges soaking up both positive and negative energy from everything around us. Being thoughtful and deliberate about the energy you consume will help you to feel more optimistic about the future. This could include the work you do, the people you connect with and the information you consume.

Working for myself provides me with the opportunity to consider carefully the sort of work that I do and the people I work with. I have to say, distancing myself from the corporate politics and BS has played a significant role in maintaining my own personal level of optimism over the last 18 months, but I appreciate not everyone has that choice.

One thing we can all do is to be thoughtful about the volume of news you consume. This is common advice, but how about increasing your volume of good news intake? The newspaper Good Good Good is a good (sorry!) place to start if you want to create more hope.


2. Spend time with young people


As a very proud father of two daughters, I love the opportunity to engage with them and their friends. I left a recent dinner in London with my youngest daughter’s new house mates excited about the opportunities these young people are creating in the world.

For 5 years, my good friend Christine Burych and I ran the Millennial Crusade for millennials in the GTA. People were often surprised that we ran these monthly leadership development events for free, but our motivation wasn’t financial. The group were amazing to be around. Smart, engaged, energetic, creative people making a big difference.

I’d encourage you to find a young person to mentor. I’m confident you’ll get as much, if not more, out of the relationship than they will.


3. Reimagine your future


American philosopher, Noam Chomsky said:


“Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, it’s unlikely you will step up and take responsibility for making it so. If you assume that there’s no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope.”


The Reimagine Work framework that I use with companies provides the perfect roadmap for making a better future at an organizational level. At the individual level a similar approach can be taken. As coaches we help our clients reimagine a future and to identify the steps they want to take to get there. It’s rewarding work.

Taking the time to think deliberately about the future you want to create for yourself will give you a greater sense of hope.


Wield your axe


I appreciate those feelings of languishing are very common and all too relatable, but adopting these strategies to create a small shift in your mindset will help you create a sense of hope and optimism.

Are you ready to wield your axe?


Mark Edgar

Mark Edgar – a recovering CHRO and Founder of Goat Rodeo Project, a consulting firm designed to help you predict and avoid train wrecks. For the avoidance of doubt, we’re in a goat rodeo. Follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter for more HR-related ramblings. It would be great to catch-up.