Men doctors at work inside hospital during coronavirus outbreak - Medical worker on Covid-19 crisis wearing face protective mask - Focus on black guy eye

Building hope

So how do we build hope? Research suggests that building hope is a step-by-step process. There are three key elements to creating hope: a goal, a pathway, and agency.

Step 1: Set a goal

To build hope, we start by setting a goal or desired outcome. There are two basic types of goals: 

  • Approach goals are things we actively want to happen. 
  • Avoidance goals are things we want to prevent from happening. 

While both types of goals are valid, having an approach goal is often more motivating.

Let’s return to our case study of William and continue his story:

William tried to combat his hopelessness by focusing on who he wanted to become. 

He noticed that during the pandemic he was showing up to work and acting in ways that contradicted who he thought himself to be. 

This made William both sad and disappointed. In response, he decided to focus on acting in ways that made him feel good rather than just trying to avoid the pandemic. One goal to help him with this was to re-engage with his patients in a more patient-centred way.

Step 2: Build a pathway

Once you have set a goal, the next step is to figure out how you will achieve it. Try to think of two or three options instead of just one. This will give you alternative solutions if the first doesn’t go as planned.

William has created a few strategies for himself. These include memorizing his patients’ names and spending an extra minute in each room asking them more about themselves when he does his rounds.

Step 3: Motivate yourself

Motivating yourself is also called agency thinking. It’s important to inspire yourself to say “Yes, I can” even in challenging circumstances. 

William knows the pandemic has changed him — but he’s decided to focus on continuing growing positively. Before each shift, he now focuses on his strategies to rebuild his hope and move toward the person he wants to become.

Hope does not necessarily fade in the face of adversity. Hope often endures despite life challenges like poverty, war, and famine. While no one is exempt from experiencing such events, hope fosters an orientation to life that allows a grounded and optimistic outlook even during the hardest times.