"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence." — Helen Keller
When we blow out birthday candles we’re told to make a wish, but to not tell anyone what you wished for or else it won’t come true. The problem with this line of thinking, though, is that a dream not stated has no hope of becoming a reality. If we don’t declare it, we may have a dream but we’re not really hoping it will work out.
The difference between wishful thinking and hopeful thinking is that wishful thinking sees things for as they are, desires something more, and then does nothing about it. On the other hand, hopeful thinking sees things for as they could be, makes a plan to make it happen, and then jumps into action.
Wishful thinking plays life safe and acts like maintaining the status quo is the primary objective. In other words, wishful thinking is not in the game to win, rather it’s only in the game to not lose.
Hopeful thinking plays life adventurously and acts like calculated change is not only a good thing but is also a requirement for growth. In other words, hopeful thinking is in the game to win, believing the often-quoted motto:
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
Hopeful thinking understands the value of taking calculated risks when the potential payoff is greater than the threat of maintaining the status quo. In the words of T.S. Elliot:
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
The Magic Word Hope reminds us to take control of our lives while also releasing the need to control everything—even control over desired outcomes. Hope allows us to grow beyond our current level of achievement, yet it also gives us permission to fail gracefully, as we strive again and again.
Have you been wishing, or have you been hoping? What can you do today to leverage the power of hope?
Jonas Cain is an instructional designer, facilitator of fascination, and purveyor of positivity—helping to initiate and manage positive change for individual, team, and community growth.