Hope – The Centre of Career Flow / The Message of Christmas

In preparing to write about “hope,” I googled the term. Perhaps not surprisingly, the first “hit” was Wikipedia – it’s worth a quick read. (As an aside, the second “hit” was a beautiful mountain community about an hour away from our head offices – Hope, BC :-)).

In the Wikipedia definition of hope, reference is made to belief in positive outcomes, spiritual grace, agency, and pathways. Very recent research has found hope to be an even better predictor of academic performance than intelligence, personality, or previous academic achievement. My own research demonstrated “optimism” (sometimes defined as having both hope and confidence) to be the best predictor of both career success and job satisfaction. Spencer Niles and Norm Amundson, my co-authors of Career Flow , placed hope at the centre of the model underpinning Career Flow. In other research, hope has also been linked to physical, emotional, and relational healing.

Clearly, hope is important across life arenas, so how can we strengthen it? Diverse professionals (e.g., teachers, nurses, pastors, counsellors) recognize that treating people holistically is important (i.e., instilling hope takes the whole person into account). Hope is also connected to the notion of “worth” – Amundson and others refer to this as “mattering.” Hopeful people know they matter – and this has been affirmed by others in their lives.

Hanukkah was celebrated earlier this month and Christmas is coming at the end of this week. Both spiritual celebrations are linked to hope. Rabbi Moshe Goldman, chaplain at Laurier University, says, “There are all kinds of social pressures that Hanukkah teaches us about. It teaches us about hope, not giving up, not settling.” The Christmas message, too, is centered on hope – the hope of a baby born in poverty but destined to save the world.

What gives you hope – the hope that is central to your career, your health, your faith, and your relationships? For some people, it’s taking time to look back before looking forward – reflecting on accomplishments. For others, it’s setting the past aside and looking ahead to a brighter future – actively working toward goals and dreams. Aristotle said, “Hope is a waking dream” – to bring your dreams to life, consider developing a vision board of words and/or pictures to keep you focussed.

John F. Kennedy cautioned, “We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes.” Try to make time this holiday season to reflect on your dreams, the fears that are holding you back, and a strategy to keep hope alive in 2011.

Originally posted December 20, 2010 by Roberta Neault

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