We all admire those people who can stare death in the face and hope for a brighter future. I would much rather hang around those types of people than the constant pessimists of the world.
I have found that hope-filled people seem to fall into two categories:
- Those that have a plan of action, with clear steps, and definitive timelines.
- Those that are delusional.
Hope is not a plan of action and nothing ever works out like you hope or want it to. A plan gives you the best chance for control in the face of obstacles. Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, coined the term “Stockdale Paradox,” which he describes as the ability to confront the cold hard brutal facts and yet still remain hopeful about the future.
Admiral James Stockdale was captured during the Vietnam War and held as a POW for over seven years.
Stockdale could always tell which soldiers weren’t going to survive being a prisoner. It was the optimists– those soldiers who thought they were going to be rescued by Christmas or by Easter. When those soldiers weren’t released by the time they had hoped for they gave up and died. The ones who survived were the ones who realized they might be prisoners for a long time, but were still able to hold out hope for an eventual rescue.
Action Step 1:
Take time to examine areas of your life where you might be ignoring harsh truths- hoping things will magically turn out ok.
- Your Health
- Your Marriage
- Your Finances
- Your Career
- Your Faith
- Your Relationships
If your only strategy is hope- IT WILL NOT GET BETTER!
Action Step 2:
Develop your plan of action. All the positivity in the world isn’t enough without a plan.
Paul J. Meyer describes the characteristics of SMART goals in his 2003 book, “Attitude is Everything: If You Want to Succeed Above and Beyond.”
Your goal should be clear and specific, otherwise you won’t be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it. When drafting your plan, try to answer the five “W” questions:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why is this goal important?
- Who is involved?
- Where is it located?
- Which resources or limits are involved?
It’s important to have measurable goals, so that you can track your progress and stay motivated. Assessing progress helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal.
A measurable goal should address questions such as:
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
Your goal also needs to be realistic and attainable to be successful. In other words, it should stretch your abilities but still remain possible. When you set an achievable goal, you may be able to identify previously overlooked opportunities or resources that can bring you closer to it.
An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:
- How can I accomplish this goal?
- How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?
This step is about ensuring that your goal matters to you, and that it also aligns with other relevant goals. We all need support and assistance in achieving our goals, but it’s important to retain control over them. So, make sure that your plans drive everyone forward, but that you’re still responsible for achieving your own goal. A relevant goal can answer “yes” to these questions:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Is this the right time?
- Does this match our other efforts/needs?
- Am I the right person to reach this goal?
- Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment?
Every goal needs a target date, so that you have a deadline to focus on and something to work toward. This part of the SMART goal criteria helps to prevent everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals.
A time-bound goal will usually answer these questions:
- What can I do six months from now?
- What can I do six weeks from now?
- What can I do today?
Action Step 3:
You can always hope, but hope is not a strategy.
See you on the mat!