Remain Positive

I write this Blog Post Article on the eve of me turning 45. This reminds me that the pandemic is now heading into its third year. Add to that the ongoing war in Ukraine, the almost daily evidence of impending climate disaster and the global supply chain disruption and inflation. So much turbulence and uncertainty that you would want to pull your hands up in the air and letting go. So remaining positive and sustaining hope has become more important than ever. We need it in our jobs as well as in our personal lives.

From where do we start?

It begins with understanding the nature of being positive and hopeful. Being positive can be defined as the belief that the future will be better than the present, coupled with the belief that you have the power to make it so. Let me be clear here. This is not in the realm of wishful thinking. When we play the lottery, we are engaged in wishful thinking. When we draw up a business plan and take it to the bank for a loan we are in the domain of hope.

Study after study shows that, in all stages of life, being positive and hopeful produces immense benefits. Positive and hopeful students have better academic results, whilst positive and hopeful adults report greater life satisfaction.

However, being positive and hopeful on its own, will not be enough. You need to marry that with discipline right from the very start. Discipline to work on imaging a better future, that leads you to work hard on planning that makes that future a reality. A discipline that translates itself in resilience that is able to accept that, despite our best efforts, the future is both unknown and unknowable, and so we would need to adapt to whatever is thrown at us. When things don’t go according to plan, you will need to rest on the ability to see adversity as an inflection point rather than a reason to abandon hope.

If  you cannot imagine a better future, hope is impossible. What we imagine impacts us emotionally and physically. Conversely, when we repeatedly and vividly imagine a bleak future, it impacts our performance, mood, and even physiology. A lack of positive future imagery is linked to depression. We pay an emotional and physical price for a negative future that may not even arrive. So instead of fixating on a dismal future, there are massive advantages for consciously imaging a plausible alternative future that can bring you energy and motivation instead of dread and anxiety.

However imagining a future through the filter of hope and positivity is not enough. Imagination makes hope possible; planning makes it real. So you then need to ask yourself – What is the pathway to the future I am imaging? What are the critical markers? And, most importantly, what is the next step? If you are having trouble identifying your next step, work your way through the following potential action areas:

Behaviours – Is there something you should do more, less, or with increased consistency? Are you really and totally committed?

Relationships – Is there a relationship or relationships you need to build or strengthen?

Learning – Is there a skill or ability you should invest in and develop?

Attitudes – Is there an attitude you need to let go or cultivate?

It is very easy to be caught up in imaging a very bleak future. You have many signals around you that can push you in that direction. However, the bleaker the present indicators get, the stronger should be your resolve to imagine a plausible future that is better than present, to then identify the pathway to that future and accept that things rarely go exactly according to plan. This will help cultivate hope and positivity in you, that will lead to useful resilience.

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