The saying “hope is not a strategy” gets tossed around a lot. Politicians have used to to grill opponents and Instagram gurus have used it to get followers. Hey, I’m using it to make a point in this blog. And the point? Hope is not a strategy. Lots of people say it, but most unfortunately don’t live by it.
We say “I hope to make more money this year or lose weight. I hope the workplace bully will leave me alone and life will get better.” We need hope to work build a better future, but it’s not a plan. Hope doesn’t build a skyscraper or land a better job. Hope doesn’t clean the house or mow the lawn.
Hope Deferred Makes the Heart Sick
The scriptures say “hope deferred makes the heart sick. But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” If we continually hope for something that never transpires, it kills our spirit. Accomplishing a desire brings pep to our step and inspires us to do more. In ancient Hebrew philosophy, the heart is synonymous with the very essence of our inner being. It represents our true self.
Therefore if our inner being yearns for something that never happens, we ultimately give up hope. A dream that never comes true, a job that doesn’t offer career satisfaction or a bad habit that never quite gets licked can all make us heart sick.
Hope Follows Action
Hope follows action. The type of hope that restores comes from taking a positive action in the right direction. If you haven’t been able to lose that weight, get up tomorrow and walk a mile. Next day walk another mile. If you can’t organize your day, take a one-day break from social media and use that time to do something positive. Don’t wait until you feel like doing it. Just do it.
As an executive director of an organization, I often get interrupted at work. People expect an immediate response to their emails. Vendors leave phone messages asking “when would be a good time for us to have a 15 minute talk about our wonderful services?” Employees step into my office to speak and end up staying twenty minutes.
If I hope that people will stop wanting my attendance at time-wasting meetings or stop interrupting my day, I’ll be disappointed. Our nature is to inevitably give in to our disappointments and give up on our hope. Some days I actually don’t initiative an important project because I just know that the office social butterflies will pop in any moment and interrupt. Even if they don’t, I’ve lost that day’s productivity on anything important.
However, I’ve learned that when I take a positive action such as writing a blog before I get to work or completing a chapter in a book by 8:00 a.m., the interruption later in the day doesn’t torpedo my progress. If I hit the gym at 6:00 a.m. for a 30 minute workout, being tired after work doesn’t keep me from doing something important for my health.
Set a Goal with a Deadline
If you want to accomplish something important, set a goal with a deadline. Then tell someone about it. Then start working each day toward that goal. You’ll develop confidence because you’re not just hoping that something will happen, you’re doing something to make it happen.
Hoping to get in shape or learn a musical instrument won’t make it happen. Hoping to start enjoying your job again won’t make it happen. You’ve got to take an action. Taking a course to improve your job marketability puts your plan into action. Writing a chapter a day on a book rough draft makes something happen.
Don’t be the person always hoping, but never doing. Do something to improve your lot in life, to improve yourself. Don’t hope others will understand. They won’t. Do it because it’s your life and your dream. Take a small action today for a small victory. Take that same action everyday. In time, the big victory will be yours. The victory will not become because you hope for it, but because you work for it.