Hope for the Future
Students need to be hopeful in order to achieve their dreams for the future. Hope is an important psychological construct; a critical element associated with optimism, overcoming adversity, religious belief, self-belief, and academic success. Research indicates that students with high levels of hope set themselves higher academic goals; they expect to achieve success in attaining these goals; they are ultimately more successful in achieving positive academic outcomes and experience greater academic, interpersonal and life satisfaction.
Conversely, students with lower hope tend to experience higher levels of anxiety, self-doubt; failures or any difficulties the student encounters are linked to poor self-worth. It is important to help students to build hope for the future. Richard Snyder describes hope as “the link between goals dreamed today and the attainment of those goals in the future”. Helping students to develop goal-setting skills and identify pathways that enable these goals to be accomplished will allow students to build hope through the process of achieving goals.
This seems like the eternal question: which came first, the chicken or the egg? Does hope precede goal setting and achievement of the goal or vice-versa? In reality, one feeds into the other. As students learn how to identify personally meaningful goals, breaking the main goal down into smaller, realistic sub-goals and developing the practical skills needed to implement plans, they will begin to achieve these goals. Through the achievement of their goals, students develop increased self-belief and build hope for future achievement. This becomes an upward spiral of hope feeding success while generating greater hope and confidence for future endeavours.
Learning how to establish and accomplish goals is fundamental to this process. The goal should require the student to ‘stretch’ beyond the current level of performance and yet the goal should still be seen as attainable. The development of requisite skills and achievement that results, builds hope and an optimistic outlook for the future. Janette Boazman, through research conducted at the University of Dallas, found that hopeful students tend to identify multiple pathways to achieving their goals. Students should be encouraged to identify different pathways to implement their goal so that if one approach is not successful or obstacles are encountered, they still have alternatives that can be utilised to make further progress. Having a flexible approach towards goal attainment can offset difficulties while building confidence that making detours along the way is an acceptable way to achieve. Students who establish goal directed thinking and learn practical, flexible ways to implement their goals, will increase their skills as well as building hope, confidence and optimism for the future.
© Michele Juratowitch