My #6 character strength, hope, is defined in VIA materials as expecting the best in the future, working to achieve it, and believing that I have the ability to create it. When I set goals that align to that ideal future, hope helps me move toward the accomplishment of those goals. With hope, we are open and flexible, seeing many pathways to our goals. Connected to hope are the concepts of optimism, future mindedness, and future orientation.
Last week, I drew upon these concepts and created a vision of my ideal future. After writing this vision, I reviewed the intentions and goals I had set for myself at the beginning of the year, and revised them to better align to my vision. I wrote a picture of my best possible self – the me that I want to cultivate, starting now. The me I will need to be in order to accomplish my goals and make my vision and dreams come true. This research-based exercise helps us boost our hope, optimism, positive emotions, and happiness. I also created a life list and documented over 100 things I’d like to do or experience over the next several years. Then I started the process of putting these ideas into a more concrete plan so I can start taking action.
Not only am I feeling excited about what my future holds, but I am feeling optimistic about my ability to accomplish at least some of my dreams. I won’t accomplish them all this year, or even next, but I can identify the most important ones, the ones I want to start with, and I can start taking action now.
Ideas for Action
Do you feel hopeful about your future and your ability to make your most desired dreams come true? Or could your hope use a boost? Choose one of these activities to try over the next week:
Document and/or reflect on your past accomplishments. How did you persevere when things got tough? What strengths did you deploy that you can use again in the future to accomplish challenging goals or handle difficult situations?
Reflect on past risks you’ve taken. What did you learn or accomplish by taking those risks?
Create your life list. Write down everything you are interested in learning more about, or everything you’d like to do “someday.” Don’t limit yourself to what you think you can realistically accomplish in the next few months. Some people take years to accomplish everything on their life list, and keep adding to it along the way. For more inspiration, check out Caroline Adams Miller’s website or her book, Creating Your Best Life Now.
Begin to put some of your life list goals into a plan and take action! Creating the list is one thing, but then you need to take the next step and determine which goals you want to accomplish, when, and what support you’ll need to make your dreams a reality.
Try the Best Possible Self Exercise. Visualize yourself in a future time, having accomplished your goals and reflect upon how you got there. Which character strengths helped make your best possible self a reality?
What does your future hold for you?
Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality. --Jonas Salk
Resources: Character Strengths and VIA Survey
Peterson, C., & Park, N. (2009). Classifying and measuring strengths of character. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology, 2nd edition (pp. 25-33). New York: Oxford University Press. www.viacharacter.org
Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press and Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. www.viacharacter.org